Kona: The Basics

I've been gone two and a half years. What a crazy amount of life that happens in that span of time. Getting to go back to the Big Island and simply enjoy the place I once called home was such a sweet, sweet adventure. The month leading up to our little Hawaii excursion was so jam packed that when it finally came time to lock and load it just didn't feel real- not to mention we were packing tank tops and sandals while outside our window it was wet, grey and cold.

Armed with long socks and scarves my friend Alyssa and I packed up and headed to the airport in the rainy-ass-cold-california weather.


The plan had originally been to get to Kona, spend a few days touring the island exploring, adventuring and revisiting our favorite places and then end the trip shooting a beautiful friends wedding but upon arriving my entire self melted into a big puddle of wanting to just simply enjoy the sunshine and rest. December was such an insane month of work that when the opportunity to do nothing but cruise around on a moped, lay on one of my best friends couches and eat delicious raw-food-goodies en route to white sand beaches presented itself I happily obliged.
 

alyssa luzaich

alyssa luzaich

 

Honestly, I'm more of a low-key travel-bug anyways. My idea of travel is couch crashing, wandering, loose agendas, new people, living like a local (did someone say coffee, books and nosh?) and relaxing into the atmosphere of wherever I am. So that's a lot of what we did-- and the bulk of this little kona-blip: The Basics.
 


I think it's safe to say that good coffee is always going to be at the top of the list. It was pretty neat to see the growth of the coffee culture in Kona since I was last there (working as a barista). Kona has long been known for the quality of it's bean, but I've personally never really been impressed-- until now. The first coffee shop we hit up, THE COFFEE LOUNGE, was just plain beautiful with it's industrial, reclaimed textures, giant windows and moody lighting.

 


The presentation was a little bit of a let down if only because the latte art was non-existent, but hey, the espresso was on point. The barista was super friendly and we got to chatting. He told me they used a local roast by a place on the main strip called Daylight and suggested we check it out. I was more than happy to follow his urging the next day and I am so glad we did. 

 


DAYLIGHT MIND COFFEE, tucked in the back just to the right of Bubba Gumps on Alii'i Dr, was one of the highlights of my trip. I'm such a sucker for atmosphere and excellence. The space is super accessible with lots of room to hunker down for a long work sesh, or meeting and it has a view. I'm not sure it get's better than that. Plus, you can watch them roast as you wait for your coffee (although it's not really set up for viewing-- just gotta sneak close). I think I came here 3 out of the 4 mornings. Not only was the coffee great and presentation on point, but the staff was super chill, too. Seriously, I really love people. By my second visit they were welcoming me by name, which might seem insignificant for some, but to me that's good people (and business).

Loved this little spot so much I'll probably end up giving it it's own post just to share all the photos -- so keep an eye out.

 

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Close second to good coffee would have to be healthy eats for me. Don't get me wrong, I can get down on some sweet potato fries but in general I prefer to find places that cater to the style of nosh that keeps me feeling on the up and up. My favorite place while living on the island was a health food store aptly named ISLAND NATURALS.

 


Not only is this spot jam packed with raw, vegan, locally sourced healthy eats and meats (and a hot-bar/salad bar) but it is right next door to my favorite spot on the island..

 


I digress, more on that later. The second spot we found that we ended up at most days is a little spot in Coconut Grove called EVOLUTION BAKERY. Gluten Free, Vegan and happy body friendly bakery by day and Pizza shop by night this placed simply rocks. Alyssa, who is basically allergic to everything, nearly died when she found their gluten free bagels. I tried a bite and I was for sure impressed. Shamelessly, my favorite thing was their chocolate chip cookies which I may or may not have had for breakfast at one point or another.
 


I also loved that outside are a bunch of little tables to eat at and on each table they have a bunch of crayons and notebooks where you can leave your mark.
 


The last notable "basic" for this beautiful aina Kona side, imho, would have to be THE MARKET.

Open Wednesdays through Sundays between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m, this place is chalk full of gizmo's and gadgets (typical Hawaiian souvenirs) and a bunch of other stuff I would never spend money, but most importantly the whole front side of the market is fresh produce stands. This place is island GOLD. Aint nobody mad about sneaking back home with 3 face sized papayas for 3 dollars; a morning market run is always on the books in the land of sun and surf.

 

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I know it was short, but hopefully sweet.
xo-- & stay wild