Farms and Tours
Would you like to experience something totally different? Tasting Kauai Food Tours include tastings from one-of-a-kind specialty food stores, famous local restaurants and food trucks while providing you with an insider’s view into the culture and history of Kauai.
We love to personally experience the activities we recommend to our guests. Just because we live here doesn’t mean that we can’t also pretend to be on vacation does it? lol! Last week we decided to indulge ourselves and join up with Katherine Smithers on the south shore Tasting Kauai Tour. This intimate food tour runs every Wednesday and includes six stops that are a celebration of food inspired by Hawaii’s multi-cultural population. We were impressed at the selection as the tour definitely provided a fresh culinary perspective for guests to discover local hidden gems they may surely have missed. Kate provided an insider view, happily sharing her knowledge and love of island grown, Kauai-made food and providing warm introductions to the owners, purveyors and chefs that we met along the way. Hearing their stories and sharing in their passion through sampling delectable fare and exploring new flavors is what makes this tour so satisfying and enjoyable! Guests staying with Great Vacation Retreats receive a special discount with Tasting Kauai, and while the tastings and stops may vary from tour to tour, we are certain you will have a good time. Tours are also offered for the East Side and the North Shore too! Find more information on this “culinary romp through paradise” online at Tasting Kauai. Below are some of the many highlights of our tour!
If you are lucky enough to glance to the right as you head west on Kaumualii Hwy you will notice the sign “Monkeypod Jam” adhered to a building adjacent to the Lawai post office. What you won’t realize, unless you are in the know, is that behind those walls succulent island fruit is bubbling away in wide copper jam pots and fragrant scones and pies are baking in the ovens under the magical supervision of the owner, Aletha Thomas. Kauai’s seasonal harvests are preserved in an array of artisanal jams, curds, chutneys and sauces laid out like a veritable treasure trove of flavors captured in exquisitely packaged glass jars begging to be sampled. Jams entice with names like Spiced Tomato, Mountain Apple Pepper, Papaya Vanilla and more. Tahitian Lime, Coconut, Calamansi and the highly coveted Lilikoi Curds beckon from the shelves! The desire to taste all of them leads many visitors to their Jam Club. The Monkeypod Jam Club features the finest fruits of the seasons through two carefully selected, 6oz. jars that are sent to you every two months. Now that is truly irresistible!
KICKSHAWS FOOD TRUCK
Kickshaws food truck is Gourmet Diner Food with a definite twist! On the Tasting Kauai Tour we were treated to the 100% Awesome Burger: 80% Fresh ground chuck steak 20% ground bacon topped with crispy bacon, a pineapple-black pepper-onion marmalade, cheddar cheese, arugula, tomato and mayo on a torts roll. For the one non-red-meat-eater on the tour, well she looked like the cat that got the cream or ate the canary or in this case the Tremendous Tuna Melt: Freshly caught, local ahi topped with Havarti cheese, pickled red onion with a caper aioli on Deli & Bread Connection’s sourdough bread. We were very impressed with owner chef Seth Peterson and his self described “science-forward food” and are most grateful that his truck is parked on our side of the island. “Seth uses sous vide cooking and other avant grade techniques to create truly unique and delicious dishes. He’s most definitely changing lives one 100% Awesome Burger at a time”. You can find Kickshaws food truck parked at Warehouse 3540 on Koloa Road.
It is bittersweet when big corp pushes out mom and pop! Usually these places have a special place in the heart of the community and it is a joy to support them especially when they have been in the same location for almost 50 years! We love authenticity and variety and the historical Kukui’ula Store along Poipu Road is continually evolving to remain competitive and to deliver a unique local island shopping experience. This is a place where you can go and enjoy a hand crafted sushi roll, an acai bowl topped with fresh island fruit or a spam musabi!! A place where you can shop for unique jewelry by local artisans or beautiful kauai made bikinis. Terry Kuribayashi, the owner, encourages opportunities for young island entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses. Her storage facility in the back of the store is now a thriving Jiu Jitsu school. We appreciate that Terry took the time to chat with us on the Tasting Kauai Tour about the history and progressive vision she has for the store. The store has come a long way from back in 1960 when Hajime Kuribayashi, a sugar cane truck driver, decided to go into retail!
ANAKES JUICE BAR
Anakes Juice Bar, located inside Terry’s Kukui’ula Store, offers divinely delicious Acai bowls, fruit smoothies and juices. Their bowls are packed with everything you could possible want, but just in case you need to personalize it to your exact desires, their add on menu has you covered! Choose from bee pollen, goji berries, chia seeds, maca powder, almond slivers, dates, coconut flakes, hemp seeds, mulberries, li hing mui, spirilina, moringa, dark chocolate chips and more…. Thank you Anakes!
Chef Matt and the crew at Makai Sushi continue to serve up award winning sushi from their bar located inside the Kukui’ula Market. Ask for the “Gorilla Bowl” or any of their specialty sushi rolls, poke bowls or sashimi – all made fresh to order. Congrats on making Yelps Top 100 Places to Eat in the Nation for the last two years in a row!
Papalani Gelato owner, Marck, is passionate about his gelato and so are we! Papalani means “heavenly” in Hawaiian and we think this gelato truly lives up to its’ name! Marck offers the finest Kauai Made, gourmet traditional and organic gelato and sorbet made daily in a variety of local flavors and unique tropical flavor combinations. Papalani Gelato also makes gelato cakes, cookie sandwiches, cupcakes, and pies for any occasion.
HAOLE GIRL ISLAND SWEETS
The last stop on our Tasting Kauai Tour was to meet Judy, the founder of Haole Girl Island Sweets. Judy brings her Farm to Table products to various farmers markets across the island. Judy loves to support local farmers and business in the making of her creations and uses locally-produced material such as Kilauea goat cheese, Maui Gold pineapple, Kapahi honey, and hand selects her produce from local growers across the island. Her intent is to bring only the best ingredients to her bakery, to make sure you get the best croissants you’ve ever tasted! We sampled two of her deliciously stuffed croissants at the Wednesday farmers market at Kukuiula Shopping Village, the Caramelized Portobello Mushrooms with Havarti cheese and Thai basil and also the Sun-Dried Tomato and Spinach with Kauai Kunana Dairy Goat Cheese.
Whether you are a coffee drinker or not, Kauai Coffee Company is a wonderful spot to add to your must see list. The Kauai Coffee Estate is the largest coffee farm in the United States with over 4 million trees grown on 3100 acres! They welcome you with the spirit of Aloha and a hot cup of their best coffee!
The Coffee on the Brain tour is offered for only $20 and includes a walking guided tour of the estate from one of their very knowledgeable guides. The guide will also show you different methods, tips and trade secrets for brewing that perfect cup! You will get to sample many different types of coffees.
If you would rather experience the estate on your own, they also offer a complimentary walking tour where you can stroll the gardens at your own leisure. You will still get to sample all the delicious hot coffee. They also offer a very nice café and gift shop. So stock up on coffee to take back home!
For the foodies at heart, if you are looking for a bit more of an authentic food experience while you are here, we suggest giving these local culinary tours a try.
Garden Island Chocolate Tour: A 3-hour guided chocolate tour on Kauai’s North Shore. You will see a working cacao farm and learn how chocolate is made. During the tour, you will have the chance to enjoy a full chocolate tasting.
Kauai Food Tours by Tasting Kauai: Farm-to-fork food tours centered on different parts of the island. See the farms, meet the farmers and chefs, and sample some of Kauai’s finest food.
Kauai Coffee: Take a walking tour at your own pace or catch up to a guided tour (available at certain times through the day) to see how coffee is grown, harvested, roasted and brewed. After your tour, sample the entire line of 100% Hawaiian estate grown coffees.
Kauai Fresh Farms: Join them for their sustainable agriculture tour on Tuesdays from 10-11:30a.m. (advance reservations required). This is a fully narrated tropical tram tour exploring Wai Koa Plantation, the country’s largest mahogany forest, koi ponds, the Stone Dam as well as a tour of the farm’s operations.
Ho’opulapula Haraguchi Rice Mill: A 6th generation working taro farm located on Kauai’s North Shore in Hanalei. This is the ONLY remaining rice mill in the State of Hawaii and dates back to the 1800s. On the tour, you will learn about Hawaii’s agriculture and cultural history, view endangered native water birds, and explore the cultivation and uses of taro, a traditional Polynesian food source. Then, enjoy a complimentary picnic lunch featuring unique items prepared with taro grown on the farm. The tour is on Wednesdays at 10 a.m. and lasts for approximately 3.5 hours.
Organic Coffee Farm Tour: Tours are small and by appointment only. Experience the entire coffee process firsthand while enjoying a bottomless cup of Blair Estate Coffee. You will also get to sample the various tropical fruits grown on property, as well as a bread tasting. This is the only organic coffee farm on Kauai growing 100% Kona coffee.
Kauai Cigar Company Farm Tour: Relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Blair Estate while learning about cigar production and learn how to hand roll a cigar. You will receive a complimentary cigar and bottomless Blair Estate coffee during the tour.
Kauai Shrimp Farm is located on the west side of Kauai in sunny Kekaha. Known for its sweet flavor, Kauai Shrimp is highly sought after by local restaurants and residents alike. The shrimp are sold, and frequently served, with the head still intact to retain that delicate texture.
The farm uses sustainable hydroelectric power and pristine saltwater to filter the shrimp ponds. No chemicals or antibiotics are used to feed the shrimp making them a great healthy choice for your next cookout.
Not only do they grow shrimp, clams are also grown on site and assist in acting as a natural filter for the water.
Check here to find out more information and where to purchase Kauai Shrimp.
Located on the lush North Shore, Kauai Kunana Dairy is a true micro-dairy, specializing in artisan goat cheese, and goat milk products. The farm also grows certified organic fruits and veggies and you can find them at farmers markets around the island.
Farm tours are a fun family event. Every Monday beginning at 10:00 a.m. you can visit the farm, sample the cheese and learn how it’s made and meet the goats! You will also learn about the organic vegetable, herb and fruit gardens.
Visit their website here to find out more information and see where their products are sold.