The great advantage of your own Kauai vacation rental is the ability to cook and eat when you like in your own kitchen. Kauai has many fabulous restaurants that prepare the finest and freshest of foods and cuisines in the world. But sometimes, 7mgg you may just want to stay in and prepare your own meal at home. You might even wish to pick something up for your special picnic or on your way to relax on the beach…here are the best local markets where you can enjoy all the bounty that the Garden Isle has to offer:
Green Markets & Fruit Stands — The County of Kauai sponsors regular weekly Sunshine Markets throughout the island, featuring fresh Kauai Sunrise papayas (sweeter, juicier, and redder than most), herbs and vegetables used in the various Hawaiian ethnic cuisines, exotic fruit such as rambutan and atemoya, and the most exciting development in pineapple agriculture, the low-acid white pineapple called Sugarloaf, manguerose not as rare these days, but still hard to find. These markets, which sell the full range of fresh local produce and flowers at very fair prices, present the perfect opportunity to see what’s best and what’s in season. Farmers sell their bountiful crops from the backs of trucks or at tables set up under canopies. Mangoes during the summer, numerous lettuces all year, fleshy bananas and juicy papayas, the full range of Filipino vegetables (wing beans, long beans, exotic squashes, and melons), and an ever-changing tapestry of edibles are all for sale.
The biggest market is at Kapaa New Town Park, in the middle of Kapaa town, on Wednesday’s at 3pm. The Sunshine Market in Lihue, is held on Friday’s at 3pm at the Vidinha Stadium Parking Lot, is almost as big in size and also extremely popular. The schedules for the other markets: Koloa Ball Park, Monday’s at noon; Kalaheo Neighborhood Center, Tuesday’s at 3:30pm; Hanapepe Park, Thursday’s at 3pm; Kilauea Neighborhood Center, Thursday’s at 4:30pm; and Kekaha Neighborhood Center, Saturday’s at 9am. The Koloa Market draws hundreds of shoppers, so go early shop hard and shop fast! There is also the Kauai Products Fair located in North Kapaa. Experience Kauai’s culture with all the fresh produce, tropical plants and flowers, artisans, aloha wear, island food, wellness practitioners and various form of entertainment…always free Wednesday through Sunday.
For Kauai vacation homes on the North Shore, Kilauea is the agricultural heart of the island, with two weekly green markets: the county-sponsored Sunshine Market, Thursday at 4:30pm at the Kilauea Neighborhood Center; and the private Kilauea Quality Farmers Association (mostly organic growers) Farmers Market, roomidea Saturday from 11:30am to 1:30pm behind the Kilauea Post Office. Everything in the markets’ wide-ranging selection is grown or made on Kauai, from rambutan and long beans to sweet potatoes, corn, lettuce, and salsas and chutneys. The markets are a dramatic, colorful illustration of how farming activity and enterprises are growing by leaps and bounds in Kilauea. Also on the North Shore, about a quarter mile past Hanalei in an area called Waipa, the Hawaiian Farmers of Hanalei — anywhere from a dozen to 25 farmers — gather along the main road with their budget-friendly, just-picked produce. This market is held every Tuesday at 2pm. You’ll find unbelievably priced papayas (in some seasons, several for a dollar, ready to eat), organic vegetables, inexpensive tropical flowers, avocados and mangoes in season, and, when available, fresh seafood. The best of the best, in season, are rose apples, mountain apples, and the orange-colored papaya lilikoi.
For Kauai vacation rentals on the South Shore, there’s great things said about the two adorable fruit stands in Lawai, where you can find inexpensive bananas (sometimes $1.25 a bunch!), papayas, and avocados along an old country road. The fruit are beautifully displayed, and sometimes the honor system is used — leave the money if no one is there. This is country style nonpareil. (From Kaumualii Hwy., turn at the corner — Lauoho Rd. — then take the first right.)
Closer to the resorts, in Poipu on Koloa Bypass Road, spaice with a view across asparagus fields and the chiseled ridges of Haupu Mountain, the Poipu South-Shore Market sells produce (some of it from Haupu Growers) daily from 10am to 6pm. Haupu Growers is the major supplier of Kauai asparagus, and this is where you’ll find it. Asparagus season begins in October. Fruit Smoothies & Exotic Treats — Fruit stands have sprouted up all over this island, and smoothies are gaining ground as the milkshake of the new millennium. New crops of exotic trees imported from Southeast Asia are maturing on Kauai, creating anticipation among residents and fruitful ideas for the smoothie world.