Hi all! I know it’s been a few weeks since my last post, but things have been crazy busy around here, so I apologize for leaving you hanging in anticipation for today’s post about vegan food on Maui! Anyway, better late than never, right? So, during our recent trip to Maui we discovered that this Hawaiian island was very vegan-friendly. As a result, I had a number of people tell me that they were planning to go there on vacation pretty soon, so they were looking forward to a post where I’d share all the details about where to find vegan food on Maui. Your wish is my command, so today I’ll be sharing our experience of eating at various vegan-friendly places on Maui. Get ready for all of the vegan deliciousness, Maui-style!
(To learn about all of the fun things to do on Maui, check out my previous post.)
Before we took off for our trip, I did my research on the great interwebs and found a few very helpful posts about vegan vacationing on Maui by fellow vegan bloggers Kristy from Keepin’ It Kind and Kathy from HealthyHappyLife.com. Those posts date a couple years back, so some places they mention are no longer in business, but there was still lots of helpful info to get us started. Overall, it was great to find out that the majority of restaurants on Maui had at least some vegan-friendly options.
Kihei, Southwestern Maui
Instead of staying at a conventional hotel, Rob and I decided to book a condo via AirBnB – our first experience with this site turned out very successful! Our place was located on the southwestern part of Maui in Kihei right across the street from the beach. The condo was set up a lot like a hotel room, only it had a separate bedroom and – the biggest plus over a regular hotel room – a kitchen! Having a kitchen was a huge plus because we could save money on making some meals at home, particularly breakfast. We made oatmeal and loaded it with local fruit for that perfect tropical vacation flavor. Speaking of fruit…
Yee’s Farm Stand. We saw quite a few roadside fruit stands when driving around the island. Yee’s Farm Stand in north Kihei was the one we stopped at to find a generous offering of at least seven types of mango – the fruit I craved the most while in Maui – as well as papayas, passionfruit known in Hawaii as lilikoi, and Rob’s favorite little bananas that go by the name of apple bananas on Maui for their slightly tart flavor. We were offered some fruit samples before we made our selection, and the mango was quite spectacular.
Joy’s Place. One of our favorite restaurants during the trip was Joy’s Place in Kihei, open for breakfast and lunch. It’s not completely vegan, but there are a few impressive (mostly) raw vegan options on the menu like these collard & assorted veggie wraps:
The restaurant had an ambiance of a place that’s loved by locals. During the two times we ate there, quite a few people walked in and were immediately recognized by name by the staff. Besides the gorgeous vegan sandwiches and wraps, Joy’s Place boasts a nice selection of vegan desserts, homemade juices and locally brewed kombucha if you’re into those things. Apparently, the acai breakfast bowl is to die for, but we didn’t try it because of our infatuation with Joy’s delicious wraps.
Maui Tacos. Another low-key lunch or dinner option presented itself to us in the form of Maui Tacos, a local Mexico-meets-Hawaii chain restaurant that serves a variety of burritos, Mexican platters, tacos, etc. It’s basically fast food that can remind you of Taco Bell, but with more soulful appeal. It’s not fully vegan or vegetarian, but we found quite a few veg-friendly options including two types of burritos, a veggie taco and a vegetarian platter with beans, rice, salsa, etc. If your goal is to have a quick and affordable vegan meal while in Maui (and if you don’t get completely offended by other customers ordering meat-heavy dishes), I highly recommend this place.
An interesting tidbit: apparently, restaurants in Maui like to pin pictures of various celebrities who came to eat there. Both Maui Tacos and Joy’s Place had quite a few of those up on the walls. It’s no surprise since a number of celebrities own property on Maui, as we came to find out.
Monsoon India. Indian food has never been a staple in our diet until Rob and I went vegan. Since then, I get a craving for its rich curried stews, piping hot basmati rice and smokey, fresh out of the tandoori oven roti (or naan, if a dairy-free version is available) at least once or twice a month. So when we drove past Monsoon India, a restaurant located on the premises of Menehune Shores hotel in north Kihei, we knew we had to eat there at least once. The food didn’t disappoint: I ordered a dairy-free variation of Dal Makhani, one of my favorite dishes at Indian restaurants that features lentils and kidney beans, and Rob had Bhindi Masala (a stew made with okra). The servings were big enough to yield leftovers for our dinner the following day. What impressed me the most at Monsoon India was the spectacular view of sunset that you can enjoy from the open terrace. If you’re into beautiful sunsets and Indian food, make sure to come just before the sun starts going down, and you’ll be in for a treat!
The Town of Paia, North Maui
If any particular place on Maui can be described as a vegan paradise, the small town of Paia on the northern shore of the island takes the reigns! Paia has a neat little downtown area perfect for tourists looking for food, entertainment and shopping. Since we’re all about the first one of these activities, here are a few gems we found:
Milagros Food Company. This place sits right in the downtown Paia at the intersection of Hana Highway and Baldwin Avenue. Once again, this place isn’t entirely vegan or vegetarian, but the signs at the entrance mentioned having vegan options. Rob and I got intrigued and decided to give it a go. A number of the tex-mex offerings were vegetarian, which always means ‘please make it vegan for me by holding cheese and sour cream’. I ordered these spectacular veggie tacos below, and Rob had veggie fajitas. You can also get nachos, burritos, a salad, etc., just remember the cheese trick to make them vegan!
The Flatbread Company. (They just love their companies in Paia, that’s for sure!) The Flatbread Company is located a stone’s throw away from Milagros in Downtown Paia. Once again, it’s not a fully vegan/vegetarian restaurant, but it’s got a clearly marked vegan flatbread (read: pizza) and a great salad from local organic veggies. The place is very popular both with locals and tourists, so if you head that way, please expect that there will be a waiting list. The food doesn’t disappoint, however – this was the very first restaurant Rob and I went to on Maui, and our vegan flatbread was epic!
Thai Spice. Asian restaurants are probably my favorite crutch whenever we’re looking for food in a place without designated vegan eateries. Thai food is always a great option: the price point is usually quite affordable, and it’s unlikely that I’ll be feeling like I swallowed a brick after eating a Thai meal. On the day Rob and I visited Leilani Farm Sanctuary, we decided afterwards to have a no-fuss dinner at Thai Spice, a small hole-in-the-wall restaurant in downtown Paia. Rob and I ordered different variations of veggie stir-frys with tofu and rice (see mine below). The vegetables were nice and crisp, the sauce flavorful and not too greasy – an ideal combo for a light dinner in a hot climate!
Because it’s so small, Thai Spice does most of its business as a takeout, but there are a few neat little tables perfect for an intimate dinner. If you come during dinner rush (say, between 6 and 7:30 pm), expect that all of the tables will be taken, so plan accordingly.
Paia Gelato. What kind of a terrible person would I be if I don’t mention that finding vegan ice cream on Maui is so easy that we basically had it every single day?! One of my very first jobs in the US back in the day was working at a gelato factory in Fort Walton, Florida. To this day I have fond memories of the luscious, creamy gelato we produced there, but then I had so much of it that I stopped eating gelato for a few years, plus so many varieties of it contain dairy that it went on our off-limits list as soon as Rob and I became vegan. To my surprise, as I was researching vegan food options on Maui, I learned that Paia Gelato was offering as many as 12 flavors of dairy-free ice cream! So I knew right away that we had to check it out.
It was worth it in so many ways! Almost all of the non-dairy flavors at Paia Gelato are made with real fruit, and whipped up to become unbelievably smooth and creamy, just like what you’d expect from dairy or fat-based ice cream. I’ve had probably half a dozen flavors during all of the trips we took to this place, and the most notable, in my opinion, was the passionfruit, a.k.a. lilikoi. Definitely give that one a try if you’re in the area, especially since it’s unlikely that you’ll find this flavor anywhere on the mainland!
AN UPDATE: During our most recent trip to Maui in March 2019 we found out that Ono Gelato is no longer in Paia – its previous location is now occupied by a shave ice spot. Ono Gelato is still available in downtown Lahaina and at the Whalers Village in Kaanapali.
Good news: even if you don’t make it to Paia, this gelato shop location is a part of a 3-store chain on Maui called Ono Gelato. They have two more locations under the Ono Gelato name in Kihei and in Lahaina (northwestern Maui). So don’t hold yourself back!
Mana Foods. Oh, I could sing odes to this amazing co-op all day long! Mana Foods is a must-visit grocery store that’s hard to miss in the downtown Paia just up Baldwin Avenue. I heard great things about it on the internet, so the day Rob and I decided to take a road trip to Hana, we stopped there in the morning to get some provisions. To my surprise, the selection of their vegan offerings could rival that of my local Whole Foods, and the prices weren’t nearly as expensive as you’d expect given that everything has to be delivered across the ocean!
There’s a nice deli that offers both cold and hot foods, vegan and not. Rob and I got some veggie wraps for our trip to Hana, and stopped here again on the way back to get some foods for dinner at our condo – baked tofu and eggplant, cold salad with veggies and glass noodles, some fruit, etc. Mana Foods has a great selection of fresh fruits and vegetables including some of the more exotic ones like breadfruit and durian (I have a hard time telling the difference between the two). Some fruit sold here comes from Yee’s Farm (see Kihei above). Chocolate lovers (read: everyone) will be glad to find a whole wall of various chocolates from all over the world. If you’re into baked goods, Mana Foods offers a decent selection of pastries, including a few vegan ones.
The Road to Hana
I described our trip to Hana, a remote little tropical town on the east side of Maui, in my previous post. Let me just remind you that the winding cliffside road took us close to a couple hours to drive to our destination, and by the end I was quite dizzy from all of the sharp twists and turns. It took me a while to get hungry, but on the way back, I insisted that we stop at Coconut Glen’s – a homemade vegan ice cream stand that I read so much about on the internet.
Apparently, Glen used to be a high-end chef back on the mainland, but one day he gave up his fancy chef ways, moved to Maui and started making vegan coconut ice cream from local coconuts (you can read his story over here). Stopping by his ice cream shack at mile 27.5 of Hana Highway was one of the highlights of our road trip! Despite (or because of) the hippie appeal, Glen offers a variety of delicious flavors like chocolate chili, macadamia nut, passionfruit, etc. I had a nice big serving of chocolate chili and enjoyed its rich creaminess with a slight kick of spice from the chilies.
Both Rob and I wished that Glen’s stand wasn’t located so far away from where we were staying, and guess what?! Our wishes were fulfilled when we found out that Coconut Glen’s had another location in the lovely town of Paia! You may need to look for it a little harder as I wasn’t able to find any mentioning of their Paia food truck on their site, but if you find yourself in Paia, head in the southwestern direction on Baldwin Avenue, and you’ll find it on the left side about 5 minutes into your walk (or a couple minutes after Mana Foods). I decided to try a scoop of their experimental ice cream flavor the name of which escapes me now, but I remember that it had pineapple and tamari (!) in it. Definitely ask them if they have something unusual if you stop by!
Ka’anapali and Lahaina, Northwestern Maui
Ka’anapali and Lahaina are two tourist-oriented towns in the Northwestern Maui. A lot of people arrive to this area and never really venture out from here because it has everything a tourist may wish for – beautiful beaches, plentiful restaurants and shops, historic locations, etc. Rob and I were staying quite a bit away from this area, so we only went there a couple of times.
The day before we were supposed to leave Maui, it was the 5th anniversary of our first date, so we both wanted to celebrate the occasion with a nice vegan dinner. A few months ago, Rob was in Hawaii for work, and during that trip he had a great dinner at Roy’s Restaurant in Oahu. Once again, Roy’s isn’t a fully vegan restaurant, but they have a separate vegetarian menu, most of which is in fact vegan or can be made vegan. So when we found out that there was a Roy’s in Ka’anapali, we decided to give it a shot.
The restaurant pulled all the stops to ensure our dinner was a success. We had a beautiful appetizer of tofu cubes in a light marinade with chopped veggies, served in a martini glass. For the main course, both Rob and I ordered the same thing – hibachi grilled tofu served with soba noodles and assorted vegetables served in a bento box:
The people at Roy’s even went so far as to serve us a free dessert for our anniversary – a coconut cream-layered parfait with fresh berries, not pictured here because it was devoured in no time! Overall, I approve of Roy’s Restaurants as vegan-friendly, with two notes: 1) tell the server exactly what you don’t want to be put in your food (fish sauce, caviar, etc); and 2) be prepared that being soy-free may not work out great here. Oh, and make sure to make reservations to avoid any hassle!
UPDATE: Apparently, Lahaina area now has a new handcrafted popsicle spot called Tropsicles! Here’s what the company says about their creations on their site: “We make everything from scratch with the utmost intention to honor the local produce that Maui has to offer with unique flavor combinations.” It may be a while before I go to Maui again, but if you’re heading that way, give them a try and let me know what you think!
Since this post is already over 2000 words long, here’s a brief summary of a few other noteworthy vegan-friendly places from various parts Maui for your consideration:
Farmer’s Market & Deli, Lahaina – another neat little co-op with some vegan carry-out options, various ingredients to cook with if you have kitchen access wherever you’re staying, etc. We found some of the prices higher than in Mana Foods in Paia, but it’ll do in a pinch.
Casanova Restaurant, 2 locations in Makawao (east Maui) and in Kahului (center) – a locals’ favorite with mostly non-vegan food offerings, but there are some pastas and grilled veggie sandwiches that come vegetarian, but can be made vegan upon request (remember the great ‘hold the cheese’ trick?). The Makawao location also offers dancing on the weekends – not sure how safe it is though.
Front Street in Lahaina – a must-visit attraction if you’re in the area! This pedestrian-heavy street has a nice view of the ocean, an access to a marina, and numerous shops and restaurants. We went for a walk there before our dinner at Roy’s, but if we hadn’t made reservations, we would have had a choice of at least 2 or 3 restaurants with vegan options. On top of that, the Front Street boasts not one but two gelato shops – the above mentioned Ono Gelato, and Maui Gelato. Both had a spectacular selection of dairy-free ice cream!
Queen Ka’ahumanu Mall, Kahului – while not particularly vegan-friendly, this mall has a food court with Maui Tacos (see Kihei, above) where Rob and I had lunch before heading to the airport to go home. There’s also a Subway, where we bought veggie sandwiches to enjoy on our flight back home.
Whole Foods, Kahului – in case you can’t imagine your life without a Whole Foods store, there is one in Kahului not far from the airport. According to the locals, the prices there are pretty high because 1) everything has to be flown in across the ocean, and 2) hey, it’s Whole Foods! Rob and I didn’t go there to check if it’s true, so you can see for yourself.
All right, now that I feel like I’ve successfully shared all of my knowledge of vegan-friendly food places on Maui, I can finally end this post! Hope you’ll find my guide helpful for your future Maui travels! Here’s a question for you:
If you’ve been to Maui, which of these vegan-friendly places have you visited, and which ones do you know of that I didn’t mention here?
Please share your thoughts below!
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