Secret Hawaii: Kalapana's Night Farmers' Market on the Big Island

Updated on March 2, 2018
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The author goes to this market regularly. He loves the beet salad from the Russian vendor, the desserts from Sugar Mama, and much more!

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Residents of the Big Island's lower Puna love Wednesdays. Why, you ask? Because that's when the weekly farmers' market at Uncle Robert’s happens! Uncle Robert Keli'iho'omalu is the legendary and beloved patriarch of the old Kalapana village, and the market takes place at his family compound, located at the south end of the Red Road near the New Kaimu Black Sand Beach. Normally it’s a quiet neighborhood of quaint beach shacks and lush coconut groves, but on Wednesday night it transforms into a huge open-air market bustling with people eager for fresh produce, tasty food, and live music. It’s a lively market full of wonderful sounds, sights, and smells—not to mention lots of friendly aloha spirit—and everyone is welcome.

Hours

The Kalapana farmers' market runs every Wednesday night from 5 PM to 10 PM.

There are many delicious treats offered at the night farmers' market.
There are many delicious treats offered at the night farmers' market. | Source
Wood-Fired Pizzas made to order.
Wood-Fired Pizzas made to order. | Source

Kalapana's Big Social Event

The night market is the biggest social event of the week, drawing people from as far as Hilo and Volcano. It’s a place where friends and neighbors meet up to “talk story” and listen to live music. Everyone seems to know everyone, but it’s also a place where you can easily make new friends. Recently, tour agencies have started bringing tourists down to Kalapana so they can experience this one-of-a-kind market. Some visitors have compared it to other festive night markets in Thailand or Hong Kong!

Wednesday is also the one night that people don’t have to worry about making dinner, as almost everyone goes to the market to eat! There’s a great variety of delicious (and cheap!) foods prepared and cooked on the spot by local vendors.

In addition to it's edible offerings, the market also has plants and jewelry.
In addition to it's edible offerings, the market also has plants and jewelry. | Source
You can even find clothing!
You can even find clothing! | Source

Shopping and Eating

Besides fruits and vegetables from local farms, you can also find all sorts of clothing, arts and crafts items, herbal remedies, and hand-made jewelry for sale. You will find grandmas selling pies, gardeners selling plants, and hippies peddling fresh eggs and raw honey. The most crowded area in the market is where all the food vendors set up their makeshift kitchens. Just follow the sizzling and popping sounds and the mouth-watering aroma of food being cooked, and you will find what you want to eat!

There are many choices of wonderful ethnic foods for you to choose from, such as Thai, Chinese, Indian, Mediterranean, Russian, Mexican, Italian, Samoan, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, and of course the popular Hawaiian barbecue: huli huli chicken and kalua pork. There’s even pizza made to order and baked in a wood-fired oven on the back of a pick-up truck! People enjoy their dinners at dozens of communal picnic tables amidst strings of twinkling lights. Meanwhile, a band of local musicians sings beautiful Hawaiian songs, old folks get up and dance, kids run around, and people relax under the warm night sky.

A busy night for the food vendors!
A busy night for the food vendors! | Source
Mmm curry!
Mmm curry! | Source

Market Tips

  • Drive slowly and watch out for people walking along the narrow road that leads to the market.
  • Come early to get a seat at one of the picnic tables in front of the music stage. The tables will fill up quickly as more people arrive throughout the night.
  • If you’re thirsty, there are all sorts of drinks available from many vendors, including veggie juice, fruit juice, and smoothies, as well as fresh coconuts.
  • Get a kava-kava drink from the tiki bar near the market’s entrance. It’s a traditional Polynesian drink made from the ‘awa root that is known to make people feel all groovy and mellow!
  • Try the wood-fired pizza! But expect to wait 20-30 minutes since they make it fresh on the spot (dough, toppings, and all!) and baking times vary. I recommend placing your order and walking around the market while you wait for your pizza.
  • If the crowd and noise of the market are too much for you, get your food and drinks to go, and walk down the trail to the new Kaimu black sand beach for a beautiful sunset picnic. Please don’t litter! Just take your trash back with you and throw it away at the market.

Fresh and delicious coconuts.
Fresh and delicious coconuts. | Source
Tasty fruits for sale.
Tasty fruits for sale. | Source
A markerNight Farmers' Market at Uncle Robert’s -
12-5038 Kapoho Beach Rd, Kalapana, HI 96778, USA
get directions

Directions

  1. From Hilo, head south on Hwy 130 (Keaau-Pahoa Road) toward Pahoa village.
  2. After passing Pahoa, continue on Hwy 130 and drive 10 miles down the hill toward the ocean.
  3. At the stop sign at the T-intersection, turn right onto Kapoho-Kalapana Road, which leads straight to the market in less than a mile.

There will be hundreds of cars parked along this road and some backed-up traffic as market-goers try to find a parking spot. There is also a big parking lot on the lava field between the market and the new Kaimu black sand beach at the end of this road (look for the sign).

Smiles all around.
Smiles all around. | Source
Goodies packed up and ready to go.
Goodies packed up and ready to go. | Source

All photos were taken with a SamsungPL120 DualView 14.2MP Digital Camera.

Questions & Answers

    © 2012 Viet Doan

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      • punacoast profile image
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        Viet Doan 7 weeks ago from Big Island, Hawaii

        Aloha Emily! The market will be on during Merrie Monarch week. May be a little less crowded than usual but will be as festive as ever! And if you're in luck, there might be some hula dancing performance at the market that Wed night to celebrate Merrie Monarch.

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        Emily 7 weeks ago

        Hi Viet - do you know if the market will still be going on during the Merrie Monarch fest this year - Apr 4? Thanks!

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        Jason 2 years ago

        Mahalo @punacoast! so looking forward to April, I've got only Sunday-to-Sunday to spare on big island, can't wait!! planning the whole trip so that I can check out the night market Wed night, hope to see you there =)

      • punacoast profile image
        Author

        Viet Doan 2 years ago from Big Island, Hawaii

        Aloha Jason, the night market is on everyday Wed evening. There's is a smaller day market, at the same location, on every Sat morning. Have fun at the market!

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        Jason 2 years ago

        thanks for the great recommendation! but I've come across conflicting sites, some say the night market is Wednesday, some say it's Saturday?! is it on both nights??

      • traveleze profile image

        Lee John 3 years ago from Preston

        Hi punacoast

        Great hub! Voted up :) I love Hawaii, and i want to revisit very soon, I write travel hubs check mine out and any feedback or comments you give will be highly appreciated

        Thanks

        Lee

      • IslandBites profile image

        IslandBites 3 years ago from Puerto Rico

        Loved this hub!

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        Jeffery Hawkins 3 years ago

        This is a great weekly event. Lots of family feelings and a great time.

      • punacoast profile image
        Author

        Viet Doan 5 years ago from Big Island, Hawaii

        Much mahalo for the update! I was wondering when the market will re-open. The residents of lower Puna miss it terribly!

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        WTF 5 years ago

        closed till Jan 9th 2013

      working