Hidden Hawaii: The Night Farmers Market in Kalapana on the Big Island
Residents of lower Puna on the Big Island can’t wait until Wednesday! It’s the day of the night farmers market at Uncle Robert’s at the south end of the Red Road, near the new Kaimu black sand beach. Uncle Robert Keli'iho'omalu is the legendary and beloved patriarch of the old Kalapana village and his family compound is where the market is located. 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 with some 700-800 people showing up for fresh produce, tasty food and live music entertainment. It’s a lively market, with wonderful sound, sight and smell - and lots of friendly aloha spirit - for the entire community.
WEDNESDAY NIGHT AT KALAPANA FARMERS MARKET
It’s a big social event of the week! And it’s one night that people don’t have to worry about making dinner as mostly everyone goes to the market to eat! There’s a great variety of delicious (and cheap!) foods being prepared and cooked on the spot by many food vendors. 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! People come from as far as Hilo and Volcano. Recently tour agencies have started bringing tourists down to Kalapana so they can experience this one-of-a kind market on the island. Some visitors have compared it to other festive night markets in Thailand or Hong Kong!
SHOPPING & EATING
Besides fruits and vegetables from local farms, there are also all sorts of clothing, arts & crafts, 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 so many choices of wonderful ethnic foods for you to choose from: Thai, Chinese, Indian, Mediterranean, Russian, Mexican, Italian, Samoan, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, and of course the popular Hawaiian barbecue: huli huli chicken and kalua pork. Oh yeah, there’s also pizza made-to-order and baked in a wood fire oven on the back of a pick-up truck! People enjoy their dinners at the dozens of communal picnic tables set in front of the music stage amidst strings of twinkling lights. A band of local musicians sings beautiful Hawaiian songs, old folks get up and dance, kids run around, everyone’s relaxed and happy under the warm tropical night sky.
TO GET HERE
From Hilo, head south on Hwy 130 (Keaau-Pahoa Road) toward Pahoa village. After passing Pahoa, continue on Hwy 130 Hwy 130 and drive 10 miles down the hill toward the ocean. 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 at the end of this road (look for the sign), up on the lava field between the market and the new Kaimu black sand beach.
- Kalapana farmers market runs every Wednesday night from 5PM to 10PM.
- 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!
- Must try the wood fire oven pizza! But expect to wait 20-30 minutes since they make it fresh on the spot (dough, toppings and all!) and bake times vary. Place your order and then walk around the market while waiting for your pizza.
- If the crowd and noise of the market are too much for you, get food and drink to go then walk down the trail to the new Kaimu black sand beach and have a wonderful sunset picnic there. Please don’t litter and take your trash back with you!
ABOUT THIS HUB
The author goes to this fun Wednesday night market regularly. He loves the beet salad from the Russian food vendor and sweet desserts from Sugar Mama. And the fabulous fire dancers!
All photos were taken with a SamsungPL120 DualView 14.2MP Digital Camera.
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Copyright © 2012 Viet Doan (punacoast)