Restaurants You Shouldn't Miss Along the Kohala Coast

The Big Island's Kohala Coast is a magical place. While one end reaches from lush green rainforest land dotted with deep valleys, the other spans into dry and sunny territory lined with white sand beaches. Among all of the natural beauty though is an abundance of spectacular restaurants. While many are located at high end resorts like the Hilton Waikoloa Village, others are scattered along the coast out in the small port town of Kawaihae.

If you're craving a high end meal of Pacific Rim cuisine, Roy's Waikoloa Bar & Grill is the place to go. As a classic Hawaiian staple, Roy's is known for serving delicious steaks, seafood, salads and desserts all with a Pacific twist. It's appropriate to dress up a bit here, but over the top isn't necessary.

Out in Kawaihae is Cafe Pesto, a long standing Big Island Italian restaurant where each dish has a local twist on it. Not to be confused with the other Cafe Pesto in Hilo, the Kawaihae location is the best Italian food on this side of the island.

Over in the resort area of Waikoloa, a number of great restaurants await. Brown's Beach House at the Fairmont Orchid offers American and modern Hawaiian cuisine, but only for dinner. Nearby is the CanoeHouse, where Pacific Rim dishes are serves along the beach.

The Kohala Coast offers an array of cuisines as diverse as its terrain, so don't forget to explore the coast and its eateries.


Specializing in Pacific Rim-influenced cuisine, this restaurant offers tables with sweeping views of the ocean and of dramatic island sunsets. Refined yet unpretentious, the Provision Company prepares dishes using only locally grown produce and fresh-caught seafood. Headliners include a seafood mixed grille with Hawaiian fish and Maine lobster in a lemongrass herb sauce. Landlubbers will want to try the likes of the Big Island Luau for two, served with a pupu platter and your choice of pork rib chop, beef brochette, grilled scallops, or fresh fish. The Kamuela Provision Company does a great job at blending the relaxed feel of the Big Island with a feeling of upscale dining.

Recommended for Kohala Coast's Best Restaurants because: The Kamuela Provision Company serves locally sourced meat, seafood and produce cooked to perfection.

Jade's expert tip: Come here for a romantic date.

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Any west side morning should start with the breakfast buffet at Manta & Pavilion Wine Bar. This is the place for long, leisurely breakfasts and chit chat over made-to-order waffles and omelets, fresh tropical fruits and juices, healthy whole grain cereals and various delicacies from the pastry kitchen with a cup of Big Island coffee. This is the Mauna Kea's breakfast buffet, with its ocean-overlook and birdsong symphony, and this is what your family will remember. Later on in the day venture to the exquisite crescent shaped white sand beach out front. You won't have to venture any further for great food or beach time.

Recommended for Kohala Coast's Best Restaurants because: Amazing food in a beautiful, ocean front venue on the sunny west side of the island. It can't get any better.

Jade's expert tip: After breakfast explore the northern sights, it'll be perfect timing before turning around for lunch.

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This restaurant's Pacific Rim-influenced menu boasts a wide range of scrumptious seafood options. Enjoy fresh-from-the-sea mahi mahi marinated in miso sake, savor lemon-pepper scallops grilled and served with wild mushrooms, or delight in flavorful nips of nori-wrapped ahi tempura and ginger-scallion tofu. The scene is equally delightful, and the rolling surf just a few yards away juxtaposes nicely with the large, outrigger canoe hanging over the enchanting outdoor dining area. Located on the beach overlooking the ocean at this high end resort, the atmosphere couldn't be any more romantic for a vacation date night. Make reservations to guarantee a spot.

Recommended for Kohala Coast's Best Restaurants because: The CanoeHouse offers amazing seafood at its romantic ocean front location.

Jade's expert tip: Arrive in time for sunset.

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Outdoor seating and terrific ocean side scenery set the stage at this Orchid treasure, whose extensive wine list and traditional Hawaiian cuisine have turned more than a few heads. Dine in a near-paradisical setting, highlighted by lush greenery, candle-lit tables, and an enchanting tropical lagoon. Dinner patrons are wowed by the menu's versatility, and choices range from seared crisp moi with basmati rice to a Kobe-style rib-eye with fingerling potatoes and ponzu dipping sauce. Exceptional nightly entertainment, plus an entrancing hula dancer, make for an unforgettable evening. During the day, pool, beach, and casual attire (with cover-ups) are suggested. For the evening, it's casual resort attire.

Recommended for Kohala Coast's Best Restaurants because: Brown's Beach House is known for serving delicious food at it's ocean side location.

Jade's expert tip: Reservations for dinner are a must here.

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Peter Merriman, whom many regard as the man who helped put Hawaii's regional cuisine on the world map, owns and operates this eponymous restaurant just outside Waimea. His award-winning dishes continue to reveal imagination and an understanding of local ingredients that amazes and tantalizes even the most discerning diners. Featured items include ponzu-marinated mahi mahi with shiitake mushrooms and hearts of palm, roasted natural chicken with vegetable ragout, and "Kansas City Cut" New York steak platter. A uniquely Hawaiian dining experience that you shouldn't pass up. Reservations are a must, especially during peak seasons. Located in the inland town of Waimea, this is a perfect stop when driving between Hilo and Kona.

Recommended for Kohala Coast's Best Restaurants because: Merriman's utilizes the abundance of the Big Island by serving locally grown vegetables and meats.

Jade's expert tip: Reservations are a must.

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Big Island Brewhaus
Photo courtesy of Jade Eckardt

Amazing beer! If that got your attention, then the Big Island Brewhaus is for you. The locally crafted beer is truly one of the top breweries in the islands, and as the newest one serves up great food and beef in an ideal location, in the sleepy paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) town of Waimea. Located on the side of the main road in Waimea, it's an ideal location when traversing the Hamakua Coast between Kona and Hilo. Here amazing and award winning beer is combined with really good Mexican food, both making the brewhaus worth a stop in their own right. Dine, or just drop in and take a growler (half gallon) to go in a custom glass bottle.

Recommended for Kohala Coast's Best Restaurants because: Big Island Brewhaus creates the best local beer in Hawaii.

Jade's expert tip: Take a growler to go enjoy on the beach.

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Kawaihae's Cafe Pesto enjoys quite a reputation for innovative pizzas, which range from traditional Italian varieties to recipes bearing Mediterranean or Pacific Rim touches. The restaurant gets packed at lunch; everybody from local business types to tourists clamor for a daily fix of pizza topped with shiitake mushrooms, artichokes, chipotle-seasoned chicken, or chili-grilled shrimp. Diners wanting to go a different route may opt for an Asian catch stromboli with shrimp tempura and an Oregon wasabi snow crab caesar salad or a Sandalwood panini (Japanese eggplant, marinated artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, and rosemary gorgonzola). There's another Cafe Pesto on the east side in Hilo.

Recommended for Kohala Coast's Best Restaurants because: Cafe Pesto serves the best Italian food on this side of the island, and it's all with a local twist.

Jade's expert tip: Put together your own pizza here.

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Restauranteur Roy Yamaguchi has garnered quite a reputation for himself, both in the Paradise State and on the mainland, and it's little wonder. Specializing in Pacific Rim cuisine, the Kohala Coast edition of his culinary empire dazzles diners with Szechuan-style baby back ribs, a kiawe-grilled rib-eye, and curry seared ahi tuna. Despite the shopping center locale, the restaurant offers an upscale scene that tends to get noisy during peak hours. The best tables offer clears views of either an adjacent golf course or a nearby lake. Guests can dress up a bit here with aloha wear, or keep it casual - but no sandy feet.

Recommended for Kohala Coast's Best Restaurants because: Roy's is a classic local staple, serving delicious food and drinks.

Jade's expert tip: Casual wear is okay for lunch at Roy's.

Read more about Roy's Waikoloa Bar & Grill →


Meet Jade Eckardt

Raised on the Big Island of Hawaii, Jade has traveled the world and doesn't intend to stop, yet the Hawaiian Islands are still her favorite place. She spent seven years living on Oahu and...  More About Jade