Secret Hawaii: Maku'u Farmers' Market in Puna on the Big Island

Updated on March 6, 2018
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The author goes to the Maku’u Farmers' Market every Sunday. His favorite lunch there is Thai pumpkin curry and lemongrass ginger iced tea.

The Big Island is known for its rich farmlands and abundant agricultural products, so it is no surprise that there are as many as 28 farmers' markets found across the island. Maku’u Farmers' Market is one of the largest, located off Highway 130 in the Puna district, between Kea’au and Pahoa. Most visitors to the island have never heard of this market, but it’s slowly becoming more popular.

If you’re on vacation on the east side of the Big Island, a Sunday visit to the Maku’u Farmers' Market is a must! Only a 25-minute drive from Hilo, you will enjoy the wonderful sounds, sights, and tastes of this unique local market. The friendly vendors and customers there reflect the true image of a laid-back and extremely diverse Puna community.

Hours

The Maku’u Farmers' Market runs every Sunday from

8 AM to 2 PM.

Source

Sunday at Maku'u Market

The Maku’u Farmers' Market is a busy open-air market with an almost carnival-like atmosphere. It is quite large—approximately 5 acres, with plenty of free parking and clean public restroom facilities—and is situated on a vast, beautiful piece of property known as the Hawaiian Homelands Farm Lots.

Note: No pets or animals are allowed at the market, except for service dogs.

Going to the Maku’u Farmers' Market is like taking a culinary tour of the world! There are over 150 vendors, most of them from the Pahoa area, as well as nearby Kea’au, Kalapana, and Hilo. Together, they offer an eclectic mix of foods that they prepare and cook for you right on the spot. Nowhere else on this island can you find such a great selection of delicious ethnic foods all in one location. Edible offerings include Hawaiian huli huli chicken, French crepes, Samoan breadfruit stew, Indian chickpea curry, Greek pizza, Thai green papaya salad, Indonesian satay, Puerto Rican pasteles, Vietnamese summer rolls, Mexican tamales, and Filipino pan de sal pastries, just to name a few.

Many Puna residents bring their whole families to this market each Sunday specifically for the delicious and affordable local foods. There are long picnic tables arranged under a large tent where people can sit and enjoy their lunch. There’s also a small stage where local musicians entertain the lunch crowd with everything from The Beatles to Bob Marley. Occasionally even a Japanese taiko drum band or a Latin marimba ensemble will perform. People often clap and sing along or get up and dance, which might just prompt you to drop your groceries and join in!

Freshly prepared food at the Maku'u Farmers' Market
Freshly prepared food at the Maku'u Farmers' Market | Source
These tents keep diners dry even in the rain.
These tents keep diners dry even in the rain. | Source

What to Do at Maku'u Market

In addition to its prepared foods, the Maku’u Farmers' Market is also well-known for its huge variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. On market day, you will find the freshest produce—either harvested earlier that morning or just the day before—from various local farms. Many of the fruits and vegetables are certified organic or pesticide free. Depending on the season, you will find all kinds of tropical fruits available. Browsing row after row of exotic fruits beautifully displayed under the vendor’s tents, you can’t help but imagine you’re at a market somewhere in Southeast Asia!

At Maku’u market you will also find a large collection of ornamental plants and fruit trees for sale from local nurseries and backyard gardeners, as well as cut flowers and orchids from the anthurium and orchid farms in the area. Many of the potted orchids are ready to be shipped to the mainland for visitors.

You can also buy unique homegrown or homemade products such as Puna goat cheese, lehua honey, coffee, vanilla, macadamia nuts, chocolate, jam, jelly, and pickled or baked goods. Sometimes there’s even fresh seafood from local fishermen (selling mahimahi, ahi, and ono from the back their boat in the parking lot!) and grass-fed beef from the upcountry ranch area of Waimea. Vendors also sell handmade soap, jewelry, and clothing, as well as crafts, paintings, photographs, pottery, books, vintage records/CDs, used furniture, and garage sale knick-knacks. There's truly something for everyone!

If you need to take a break from all the visual stimulation, you can always head to one of the massage tents and get yourself a lomilomi massage, or just relax on a picnic bench, sip cool juice from a fresh coconut, and have your palm read by a fortune teller.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Exotic Fruits and Veggies at the Maku'u Farmers' MarketEye-catching Eggplant Perfect Pumpkins and What Appears to Be the Vegetable Equivalent of a Baseball BatLuscious Lychees and AvocadosBeautiful Organic, Pesticide-Free Bananas
Exotic Fruits and Veggies at the Maku'u Farmers' Market
Exotic Fruits and Veggies at the Maku'u Farmers' Market | Source
Eye-catching Eggplant
Eye-catching Eggplant | Source
Perfect Pumpkins and What Appears to Be the Vegetable Equivalent of a Baseball Bat
Perfect Pumpkins and What Appears to Be the Vegetable Equivalent of a Baseball Bat | Source
Luscious Lychees and Avocados
Luscious Lychees and Avocados | Source
Beautiful Organic, Pesticide-Free Bananas
Beautiful Organic, Pesticide-Free Bananas | Source

Maku'u Market Tips

  • Vegetables and fruits are very inexpensive here, so bring plenty of $1 bills.
  • This is a great place for people watching! Get a plate of food, sit back, relax, and watch the crowd go by. You might even be surprised to see a visiting Hollywood celebrity, as some have been spotted at this market.
  • It’s always crowded at the picnic tables under the lunch tent, but squeeze yourself in anyway; people will be glad to make room for you. Don’t be shy—you might find yourself sitting next to some of the most interesting people you've ever met!
  • Buy a fresh coconut to drink from the permaculture farm booth located at the north end of the market. Just don’t look while the guy holds your coconut in one hand and furiously chops away at it with the machete in the other!
  • Be sure to take a stroll through the beautiful Hawaiian garden at the south end of the market near the parking lot. It is full of many rare, native species you won't see anywhere else.

Check out those tall orchids in the background!
Check out those tall orchids in the background! | Source
Books and Knick-Knacks
Books and Knick-Knacks | Source
Kitchenware and More!
Kitchenware and More! | Source

Warm Aloha

When visiting the Maku'u Farmers' Market, or any other destination on your Hawaiian vacation, please always be respectful to the kama'aina (local people) and the aina (land).

Directions

  1. From Hilo, head south on Hwy 11 (Mamalahoa Hwy) toward Kea’au.
  2. At the Kea’au intersection, turn left onto Hwy 130 (Keaau Pahoa Rd).
  3. Drive toward Pahoa village (about 8 miles).
  4. You will see what looks like a buzzing tent city with lots of cars in the parking lot (rain or shine) on the left side of the highway. That’s the Maku’u Farmers' Market!

A markerMaku'u Farmers' Market -
15-2131 Keaau-Pahoa Rd, Pāhoa, HI 96778, USA
get directions

Lehua Honey
Lehua Honey | Source
Homemade Goat Milk Soap
Homemade Goat Milk Soap | Source

All photos were taken with a SamsungDigimax 301 3.2MP Digital Camera.

Questions & Answers

    © 2011 Viet Doan

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      • punacoast profile image
        Author

        Viet Doan 3 years ago from Big Island, Hawaii

        Thanks Blond Logic. So glad you enjoy reading this hub. I hope you will get to see this market in person some day - and try all the foods. Aloha!

      • Blond Logic profile image

        Mary Wickison 3 years ago from Brazil

        What a wonderful place that would be to see in person. I love the fact that the foods are from everywhere. Some of the plants and fruits are similar to here in Brazil, but not all.

        Well another place to put on my bucket list.

      • profile image

        Chas 4 years ago

        Who is watching if taxes are being collected?

      • punacoast profile image
        Author

        Viet Doan 6 years ago from Big Island, Hawaii

        Mahalo Farmer Brown. It's true...when I browse articles on Hubpages it feels like taking a fascinating trip around the world!!!

      • Farmer Brown profile image

        Farmer Brown 6 years ago

        Looove your hubs...they are like mini-vacations : )

      • punacoast profile image
        Author

        Viet Doan 6 years ago from Big Island, Hawaii

        Glad you enjoy the trip Cyndi10. Aloha!

      • punacoast profile image
        Author

        Viet Doan 6 years ago from Big Island, Hawaii

        Thanks Imogen French, come back to the Big Island soon!

      • Cyndi10 profile image

        Cynthia B Turner 6 years ago from Georgia

        Thanks for the free trip. Beautiful pictures.

      • Imogen French profile image

        Imogen French 6 years ago from Southwest England

        A very interesting a colourful hub. I visited Big island on a fantastic vacation to Hawaii last year, and this brings it all back - thankyou!

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