A few years ago when I did an article on Waikiki on the Cheap, I discovered the worth-waking-up-early-for Saturday farmers market at the community college parking lot on the road to Diamond Head. Not only was there local produce such as papaya and starfruit, there were glorious tropical flowers to take back to the rented condo and — a tasty bonus — loads of food stands offering noodle dishes, fried rice, lumpia and more. That sort of thing is the breakfast of Hawaiian champions.
This time, I’m on Kauai and finding that farmers markets have really caught on in Hawaii. This island has at least one farmers market — and sometimes several, scattered around the island — every day of the week but Sunday.
The largest is 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday on the front lawn at Kauai Community College, in Puhi, off Highway 50 between Lihue and the turnoff to Poipu. Ready-cut heliconia and blazing-red torch ginger? Check. Pansit for breakfast? Check. $1.50 papayas? Check — unless you choose to go with the Paul Bunyan version for $5. We also bought local honey; sample a half dozen and compare the flavors, they really differ.
This isn’t as big as the Oahu market I went to, but that’s probably because there are so many others around the island. The big plus side to that: No matter what day you decide it’s time to cook some good local food in your condo kitchen, there’s a market where you can go for the freshest fixings, from ginger root to cherimoya, a lobed-skinned fruit with creamy flesh and flavors akin to pineapple, peach or strawberry. Get a full Kauai farmers market schedule and map of locations here.
For an excellent article on all of the Aloha State’s farmers markets, see the May edition of the Alaska Airlines magazine.