Larger than all the other Hawaiian islands combined, the Big Island requires a few day trips and overnight visits to fully explore the “youngest” place on the planet. So breakfast here is very much the most important meal of the day to help you prepare for your Big Island adventures. Here’s a list of our favorite spots for a delicious start to the day. Aloha!
But wait, there’s more. We’re here to help demystify some of the unusual words you might see on menus like furikake, laulau and lilikoi — and explain which meat is being served and why. And possibly most importantly of all, provide the fun facts on the origins of local dishes.
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Big Island Breakfast Map
Breakfast in Kona
'Ulu Ocean Grill
Located in the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, this is what vacation breakfasts are supposed to be like. Sitting at a table steps from the sand you can wake up to hot coffee and chilled POG served alongside lemon ricotta pancakes with fresh berries and creamy lemon curd or an açai bowl topped with banana, blueberries, coconut, crunchy granola, bee pollen, goji berries, and local honey. If you have room, we also highly recommend treating your to a macadamia nut cinnamon roll with cream cheese icing. You won’t finish it, but what’s leftover makes for a lovely afternoon snack. ‘Ulu Ocean Grill also offers a breakfast buffet loaded with options including made to order omelets, hot malasadas, Eggs Benedict, yogurt parfaits, and more. Open daily 6:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
The Coffee Shack
Just off the highway, The Coffee Shack is a picturesque place to stop for breakfast, perched on the mountainside south of Kailua-Kona. You’ll find Kona coffee in the mugs and homemade bread and pastries on the menu. On Sunday they offer a specialty brunch menu. Open Thursday through Tuesday 7am to 3:30pm.
Island Lava Java
Here we’re talking local coffee, local veggies, local chicken and local beef. These guys are sourcing the best stuff that Hawai’i island has to offer. This two-story restaurant is smack dab in the middle of Kailua-Kona for a great open air dining experience. The Island Lava Java menu has a little something for everyone. But, we’ve got our eyes on the luau omelette — a whole egg omelet stuffed with slow roasted pork, grilled pineapple, onion and a cheese blend. Forks up! Open daily 7:30am to 8:30pm.
Breakfast in Waimea / Kamuela
Hawaiian Style Cafe
If you’re craving local comfort food, there are two locations of Hawaiian Style Cafe where you can indulge in hearty portions that are light on the wallet (the second location is in Hilo). The breakfast menu is available all day and features local favorites like kalua hash and fried rice. Their loco moco game is strong as well. And if there’s ever a time to have breakfast for dinner, it’s on vacation. Open daily 7am to 2pm ( check website hours for varying locations).
Waimea Coffee Company
Waimea Coffee Company has been recognized locally for “Best Cup of Coffee,” “Best Sandwich,” and “Best Eco-Friendly Business,” and better yet, we love their tagline — “Good Friends, Bad Habits.” Breakfast is served until 11am, featuring a nice selection of bagels and daily specials to accompany your dark roast. The Waimea Coffee Co. Waimea location is open daily from 6:30am to 5:30pm and the Hawi location is open daily from 7am to 5:30 pm.
Breakfast near Hilo
Punalu‘u Bake Shop
This popular bakery is the perfect place to stop on your way to Volcanoes National Park. The Punalu’u Bake Shop sits on four acres of tropical gardens, so it’s an ideal place for stretching your legs as you enjoy a warm, sugary malasada. And if you’re really looking for a hearty meal, relax on the lanai and order the fan favorite Shoyu pork and baked fish plate lunch from their restaurant menu. Open daily 8:30am to 5pm.
Self-taught chef and owner Paul Cubio helms this tiny Hilo gem. Reservations are required, and make sure you’re punctual because there’s only a five-minute grace period before you lose your spot! The ingredients are almost entirely sourced from the nearby farmers market. Breakfast menu includes waffles, eggs Benedict, and bagels and lox. Paul’s Place is open Wednesday through Saturday 7:30am to 2pm. Closed Sunday through Tuesday.