Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Traveling Vegan: Oahu, Hawaii

Traveling Vegan: Oahu, Hawaii

I'm not a beach person. With a book I can manage to squeeze out a few hours at the beach before I get bored and want to leave to do something else. I'm more of a city person and because of this I don't tend to vacation or travel to tropical destinations. But only one word can describe my experience in Hawaii: Paradise. When Matt and I decided to finally take a trip to Hawaii, I needed a vacation. A real vacation. One where I'm not running myself ragged trying to fit every possible experience in. I needed a real break. What I found was that it's easy to relax in Hawaii, even when you are a person like me that finds it hard to sit back and relax. The whole atmosphere of Hawaii lends itself to relaxation and rejuvenation and that's what I found there. It was an amazing trip and it was only made better by all of the truly delicious food we had there. Oahu has become not only one of my favorite places to visit but a place that has some of the best vegan food in the world.

Traveling Vegan: Oahu, HawaiiThe Beet Box Cafe
66-437 Kamehameha Hwy
Suite 104
Haleiwa, Hawaii 96712

We'll start my vegan food tour of Oahu on the North Shore. The North Shore is a beautiful part of Oahu which is much more wild and less touristy than areas like Honolulu and Waikiki Beach. It's true Hawaii, and in the North Shore we found a gem of a vegan spot.

The Beet Box Cafe is a stones throw away from the beach and has a very beachy feel inside. They have a pretty large menu which is all vegetarian and has TONS of vegan options.

We chose to try the avocado toast, which is a favorite of my husbands. It was a little bit of a spin on avocado toast, since it was on thick bread with garlic aioli. It was so good! A refreshing change from the traditional avocado toast.

We both tried the Hello Burger for our main course which of course had a beet based patty. It had some toppings that I wouldn't normally choose to have on my burger like pickled onions and dijon mustard, but I'm so glad I went out of my burger comfort zone on this one. It was an amazing burger with all of the toppings working perfectly together. The Beet Box Cafe is a must stop place for vegans visiting the North shore of Oahu.

Avocado Toast
Toasted whole wheat pita bread smothered in garlic aioli, avocado, lemon juice & seasonings.

Hello Burger
Our delicious homemade veggie burger served with arugula, pickled onions, cucumbers on a toasted whole wheat bun with garlic aioli & a dollop of dijon, served with a side of steamed kale

Traveling Vegan: Oahu, Hawaii
Blue Tree Cafe
1009 Kapiolani Blvd
Honolulu, HI 96814
(808) 591-2033

The Blue Tree Cafe is a great little cafe that is prefect for grabbing a quick healthy breakfast before heading out for a day of sightseeing or hiking. They open early so it's great if you want to get a head start on the day.

They have fresh juices, amazing smoothies and quite a few vegan options. We went there twice before heading out for the day and I loved their house strawberry shake. I had them make it with almond milk and it was delicious.

If you are a fan of smoothies and would like a break from some of the heavier vegan meals you'll enjoy in Hawaii, be sure to stop by the Blue Tree Cafe.

House Strawberry Shake
Strawberries, organic milk (sub plant based milk), organic vanilla and vanilla agave

Traveling Vegan: Oahu, Hawaii
Wing Enterprises Incorporated
1145 Maunakea St #4
Honolulu, HI 96817
(808) 536-4929

Wing is a little ice cream shop that always has several vegan flavors on the menu. The owner makes all the ice cream by hand and has a lot of original flavors.

We tried the green tea and Oreo with chocolate. The chocolate was delightful but green tea ice cream tends to taste like seaweed to me and this version was no different. I would have liked to try some of the other flavors but we only made it to Wing once.

Wing is a small business that makes all of their ice cream from hand and is a important part of the vegan community in Oahu. Make sure to stop by to try some ice cream flavors that are true Hawaii.

Traveling Vegan: Oahu, Hawaii
Simple Joy
1145 S King St # B
Honolulu, HI 96814
(808) 591-9919

Simple Joy is an all vegan restaurant with a huge menu and an array of cuisines. It's a no frills place and menu but it's clean with a friendly and quick staff.

Traveling Vegan: Oahu, HawaiiWe started out with the veggie pot stickers which were just as we expected. Warm and tasty. It was a perfect size to share.

For our main course, we ordered the noodles with veggies and tofu. I really loved this dish. All of the flavors and textures  of the noodles and veggies blended so well together and the tofu sent it to the next level. I figured I would enjoy it, but this simple dish really hit the spot for me. So much so that we came back later in our trip and ordered the exact same thing.

Simple Joy will definitely be a spot I will return to the next time I make it out to Oahu. Don't miss this spot.

Vegetable Pot Stickers
Noodles with veggies

Traveling Vegan: Oahu, Hawaii
Peace Cafe
2239 S King St.
Honolulu, HI 96826
(808) 951-7555

Peace Cafe is a very cute all vegan cafe. They have a pretty good array of sandwiches, bowls, juices and smoothies.

Traveling Vegan: Oahu, HawaiiI ordered the Tex Mex Bowl for myself and it was good but left me unsatisfied. We were there for dinner and I just didn't feel like there was enough to it.

My husband ordered the Hanoi sandwich which he enjoyed.

 I would love to give Peace Cafe a second chance the next time I'm in Oahu. Their food tends to be on the lighter side so I would suggest heading there for lunch instead of dinner.

Tex Mex Bowl
Hanoi Sandwich

Traveling Vegan: Oahu, Hawaii
Traveling Vegan: Oahu, Hawaii
Down To Earth
2525 S King St.
Traveling Vegan: Oahu, HawaiiHonolulu, HI 96826
(808) 947-7678

Some of best food I had in Hawaii was found at one of the most unusual of places. I found Down To Earth in my research before we left for our trip. It's a vegetarian grocery store with a deli inside that I thought would be a great place for us to stop on the way to the hotel so we could pick up some snacks and hopefully grab lunch.

Their deli menu and ready made foods were amazing. I was blown away with the vegan options (most of their deli menu can be made vegan) and the helpful staff. We ate here several times during our trip and everything we had was mind blowing.

On our first trip there we got shared the Reuben and the veggie pizza with Daiya cheese. Where do I start. The pickle they added to the reuben gave it a bite that I have not experienced before in a reuben. It was simply delicious.

The veggie pizza was another love affair. The slices were large and the veggies and Dayia plentiful. This is one of the best pizzas I have ever had. Period.

On our next visit we had the pizza again but tried the Foccacia Panini. This was warm, gooey and had all the right fillings. It was simply divine.

Traveling Vegan: Oahu, HawaiiOne thing we knew we had to try while in Hawaii was musubi, traditionally made with spam (BARF) and rice. There are several places on the island that make vegan musubi, so we picked up a few at Down To Earth. While I enjoyed my musubi, I was fine with just having one on our trip. My husband on the other hand, was taken with the Hawaiian specialty and consumed several over the course of our trip.

I never would thought that I would find such amazing food at a grocery store in Honolulu, but I did and it is a MUST for any vegan or vegetarian traveling to the area.

The Reuben
Vegetarian Salami, Sauerkraut, Swiss Cheese, Sesame Seeds,
Pickles, Tomatoes, Lettuce, Stone Ground Mustard, and Vegenaise
on Rye
Veggie pizza with Dayia

Foccacia Panini
Pesto, Shredded Cheese, Tomatoes, Onions, Bell Peppers, and Vegetarian Ham, Turkey, or Salami (Grilled) on Foccacia bread
Vegan Musubi

Traveling Vegan: Oahu, Hawaii
Moana Surfrider
2365 Kalakaua Ave.
Honolulu, HI 96815

Traveling Vegan: Oahu, HawaiiWhat's better than afternoon tea on the ocean? Vegan afternoon tea on the ocean! If you are a frequent reader of my blog, you know I seek out vegan afternoon tea wherever I travel. Since we were staying at the magnificent Moana Surfrider, I sent them an email a few weeks before our trip to see if they could make vegan afternoon tea for us.To my surprise and delight, with just two weeks notice, the Moana Surfrider can prepare a vegan afternoon tea for you.

Traveling Vegan: Oahu, HawaiiAfternoon tea is served on The Veranda, which has beautiful views of the ocean. You are mere feet from the beach as you enjoy your afternoon tea. I wish I could remember the flavors and ingredients of everything we had but it was explained to us by the waiter in such detail I couldn't retain it all. I do remember that this afternoon tea was very localized. They had many ingredients that were from the islands, so this made this afternoon tea a little different from the others I have had.

Just take it from me and the pictures that this was a very impressive afternoon tea and the location made it that much more special. I would highly recommend afternoon tea at the Moana Surfrider if you would like a unique experience while you are in Oahu.

Traveling Vegan: Oahu, Hawaii

Traveling Vegan: Oahu, Hawaii
Downbeat Diner
42 N Hotel St.
Honolulu, HI 96817
(808) 533-2328

Traveling Vegan: Oahu, HawaiiAnother amazing place we enjoyed was Downbeat Diner. This was by far the hippest place we ate while on our trip. Downbeat is a popular diner that has music performances in the lounge next door. The atmosphere of Downbeat is pretty darn cool. The fabric that lines the booths is covered in the faces of people in pop culture and they always have a film or footage being played on the large TV in the diner. Downbeat isn't a vegan diner but they have TONS of vegan options on the menu. You won't have any trouble finding a thing or two to try.

One of the best things about Downbeat is that they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner all day! Whatever meal you're in the mood for you can get it at Downbeat. My favorite meal I had there was brunch, so I'll start there.

I ordered the egg breakfast with tofu scramble, vegan bacon, home fries and toast. The combination of all these yummy things made this plate an amazing breakfast. My husband ordered the pesto scramble which had similar choices but he chose the vegan sausage.

We shared a side of vegan french toast and it was delicious! We loved what we ordered so much that we came back for brunch again later in our trip and had the exact same thing!
Traveling Vegan: Oahu, Hawaii
Since breakfast was so amazing we had to see what Downbeat had in store for dinner. We started with the BBQ wings which were a little too life-like for my taste. Also, the wooden stick that serves as the "bone" of the of the chicken wing was off putting. All in all I wasn't a fan of these.

Traveling Vegan: Oahu, HawaiiOur second appetizer, yes second, was the homemade Downbeat gravy and cheese fries. Wow. These made up for the creepy BBQ wings by a mile. These were so good! I love fries and I also welcome most things they can be topped with.

Now we finally get to our main courses! I ordered the Buffalo Chicken sandwich which I really enjoyed, especially because it was served on sourdough bread. My husband ordered the California burger which had all kinds of awesome stuff on it and he really enjoyed it.

Traveling Vegan: Oahu, HawaiiWhile dinner at Downbeat was very good and I would eat dinner there again given the chance, I think they really excel at breakfast/brunch. That was the meal that kept us coming back there with so many other options on the island. I would recommend trying breakfast and dinner at Downbeat because it's a spot on Oahu that you don't want to miss if you're in the market for great vegan food.

Egg Breakfast
Two eggs any style or tofu scramble. Home fries, or rice. Sausage, pocho sausage, bacon, vegan sausage or vegan bacon. Served with toast or 2 pancakes.

The Pesto Scramble
Traveling Vegan: Oahu, HawaiiPesto eggs or pesto tofu scramble, your choice of bacon, sausages, pocho sausages, vegan sausages or vegan bacon. Served with home fries or rice and toast.

French Toast
Hawaiian sweet bread french toast or vegan french toast with powdered sugar.

BBQ Vegan Wings
Vegan Wings served with ranch.

Cheese or Gravy Fries
Basket of fries smothered with melted cheese or Downbeat's gravy.

Traveling Vegan: Oahu, HawaiiBuffalo Chicken
Grilled chicken or vegan chicken, spicy buffalo sauce, swiss cheese, ranch, lettuce, tomato, and red onion on sourdough.

Big Island beef burger or vegan burger, bacon, avocado, swiss cheese, red onions, lettuce and mayo.

Traveling Vegan: Oahu, Hawaii
2301 Kalakaua Ave.
Honolulu, HI 96815
(808) 200-1640

I came across Banan because it was a healthy snack option that was within walking distance of our hotel. I figured it would be good in a pinch but I had no idea that I would fall in love with it. Their dairy free banana soft serve is so good and they have many vegan toppings you can add. It was so nice to have on a humid Hawaii day!

Traveling Vegan: Oahu, Hawaii
Ai Love Nalo
41-1025 Kalanianaole Hwy. 
Waimanalo, HI 96795
 (808) 888-9102
Traveling Vegan: Oahu, HawaiiMenu

After hearing so many good things, I finally made it to Ai Love Nalo! The parking can be a challenge and it is pretty much out in the middle of nowhere, but it's really worth the trip! We stopped by after a nearby hike. They use honey even though they have signs at the door saying that no animal products are allowed inside the restaurant. Just be aware of that.

I got the Mint To Be smoothie with coconut milk, carob and maca powder, bananas, local mint, honey & cacao nibs (had to sub out the honey for agave) and it was amazing. We also had the Spicy Poke and the Kalossal Burger, which came with a large kalo falafel patty placed on a toasted locally baked whole wheat vegan bun smeared with baba ganoush and beet hummus, and topped with fresh greens, beets, carrots and avocado. Everything was so good we came back later in the week to enjoy them again!

Next time I'm in Hawaii, I will for sure be stopping by Ai Love Nalo again. YUM!
Traveling Vegan: Oahu, Hawaii

What are your favorite vegan spots in Oahu? Let me know in the comments!

All photos by Ashley of


  1. Holy crap! We missed out on a ton of eats when we went to Oahu. We only tried about half of those places. Damn. I have to go back.
    Wasn't Down to Earth surprisingly awesome? I was a little nervous when I wandered in as it's not the nicest looking, but the food is sooooo good! I ended up eating there like 3 times while we were there... it didn't help that we were walking distance ;p
    I'm so glad you guys had such a great time. And I'm glad I have this post for next time I go!

    1. Oh my. So much good food there! I wasn't even expecting it to be on par with the vegan food on the mainland, but it was!

      Down to Earth was seriously one of my favorite places. We were not within walking distance and we still ate there three times! He He!

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