Hawaii, The Big Island: Dairy-Free Eats from Hilo to Kona

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Last Updated April 2021! We’ve created this ever-growing guide to restaurants, bakeries, cafes, ice cream shops, and stores on The Big Island of Hawaii that are friendly to dairy-free diners. It’s a collection based on research and reader recommendations (send yours!) that’s divided into restaurants & shops by city. And we’ve started a section for specialty dairy-free foods produced in this state.

We Update Continuously! You can ignore the original date on this post going forward. We update the information below whenever we’re alerted to a new recommendation, change, or closure.

Dairy-Free Hawaii (The Big Island): Recommended Restaurants & Shops - from Hilo to Kailua-Kona - ice cream, baked goods, acai bowls, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and groceriesPhoto from Loved by the Sun in Hilo

Dairy-Free Hawaii, The Big Island: Recommended Restaurants & Shops

We’ve listed these recommendations alphabetically by city and then by the restaurant or shop name. For large chains with locations throughout the state, see the Major Restaurant & Grocery Chains section below. We have dedicated posts with dairy-free details for many of the big guys.

⭐️ = Restaurant is either dairy-free, has a dairy-free menu, has dairy-free labels on their menu(s), or lists top allergens with menu items. (At the time of our last review.)

Hilo

  • Cafe Pesto – Most of their salads can be made dairy-free, and they are reportedly helpful with special diet requests. They also serve Hawaiian Licks ice cream for dessert.
  • Hawaiian Licks ⭐️ – Hawaii has its very own dairy-free and vegan ice creamery! Their selection includes many local favorites, like Lilikoi, Ginger Mac Nut, and Ka’u Coffee. But they also scoop many popular classics, like Cookie Dough and Mint Chocolate Chunk. The flavors rotate daily, but they usually have about eight coconut milk-based varieties on hand.
  • Island Naturals Market & Deli – This is the Big Island’s major natural food store. They carry lots of special diet brands in grocery, have some dairy-free deli options, and even offer some vegan treats in the bakery.
  • Loved by the Sun – This is a vegetarian cafe and juice bar with creative dairy-free mylks, fresh-pressed juices, smoothies, acai bowls, and some healthy vegan food options.
  • Nicoco Hawaiian Gelato – Their main scoop shop is in Pāhoa, but they opened a second one in Hilo. This local gelateria is purely vegan and gluten-free, and churns coconut milk-based gelato in over 400 rotating seasonal flavors. You can read more details in the Pāhoa Listing below.
  • Pineapples – They serve Island cuisine using fresh, local ingredients. They have an enticing vegan menu right on their main menu and some additional dairy-free items available.
  • Sweet Cane Cafe – Their smoothie menu is massive, and mostly dairy-free with macnut mylk and coconut milk generously used throughout. They also blend dairy-free acai and pitaya bowls and squeeze sugar cane juice. For eats, they regularly offer vegan and gluten-free baked goods, and serve a couple of vegan entrees (Caesar salad and bagel sandwiches at last check). But several additional menu items can be made dairy-free.
  • Vibe Cafe ⭐️ – This vegetarian cafe is mostly vegan, with a vegan option for what looks like everything on the menu. They offer six different milk beverages for their unique menu of lattes and coffee drinks, and serve quite an expansive menu for breakfast, lunch, and early dinner. It includes toasts, salads, burgers, sandwiches, pizzas, and so much more. For dessert, vegan ice cream, milkshakes, and affogatos are available.
  • Zippy’s – This is Hawaii’s major fast food chain. They have an allergen chart, which includes many traditional plate options that are dairy-free. They also have some dairy-free burgers, local stews, sandwiches, and breakfast items. Most of their locations are on Oahu, but they have this one on the Big Island.

Honokaa

  • Ahualoa Farms – At their shop you will discover some unique dairy-free foods made with local ingredients. They offer creamy mac nut dressings, macnella spread (like Nutella!), and local honeys.

Kailua-Kona

  • Barefoot Zone ⭐️ – Come as you are to this vibrant counter-serve, dairy-free cafe. They flip gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free crepes wrap them around savory cheesy or sweet fillings. Other dishes include acai and pitaya bowls, tropical smoothies, plant-based burritos and quesadillas, vegan sushi rolls, and local organic healing teas.
  • Basik Cafe ⭐️ – This sweet local spot blends purely dairy-free and plant-based acai bowls and smoothies. They’re made with cashew milk or hemp milk and simple, healthy ingredients. The menu is mostly vegan, too, but a few items have honey or bee pollen toppings.
  • Bianellis Gourmet Pizza and Pasta – Calzones, pizza, gluten-free pizza, and gluten-free pasta can be made dairy-free on request at this local Italian restaurant. They do offer dairy-free cheese.
  • Da Poke Shack – Their poke fish is always fresh, never frozen, and includes a great array of flavors. They also offer sashimi and hot plates, and have many vegan sides. Most of their menu is dairy-free.
  • Gecko Girlz Shave Ice – This little local shop uses only pure can sugar to sweeten their flavors. Like many shave ice spots, you can find great dairy-free options, but this one also offers a vegan coconut cream drizzle.
  • Gypsea Gelato – They typically have at least one creamy vegan gelato flavor in addition to dairy-free sorbetto flavors.
  • Island Naturals Market & Deli – This is the Big Island’s major natural food store. They carry lots of special diet brands in grocery, have some dairy-free deli options, and even offer some vegan treats in the bakery.
  • Journey Cafe Big Island ⭐️ – This plant-based restaurant is known for their original artisan sourdough pockets and use of organic, local ingredients.
  • Laulima Food Patch – It’s hard not to feel healthy when you walk in this cheerful, counter-serve spot. They serve build-your-own Hawaiian rice bowls with mostly dairy-free options. They also have several vegan and gluten-free selections to choose from.
  • Loko Wraps – All of the Loko Sauces and Dressings are made in house, and they are all dairy-free, gluten-free, and soy-free. That means you can enjoy most of the wraps, mixed plates, and taco plates at this Island style Mexican restaurant.
  • Plant Based Foods ⭐️ – Everything at this little shop is dairy-free and mostly vegan (they do carry honey). You’ll find some local goodies and unique foods that you won’t see anywhere else on the island.
  • Puna Chocolate Co – The cacao they use is actuallly grown in Hawaii by local independent farmers. They regularly offer vegan chocolate bars made purely with Hawaiian cacao beans, organic cane sugar, and cocoa butter. Sometimes they also have dairy-free “milk” chocolate.
  • Sweet Journey Soft Serve ⭐️ – For a pure taste of the islands, visit this dairy-free ice cream shop. Their soft serve is made from locally grown organic macadamia nuts, which are cold-pressed into a creamy dairy-free milk base.
  • Umekes Fish Market Bar & Grill – This is a local favorite for pupus, poke, plates, and other popular Hawaiian dishes. Many menu items are naturally dairy-free.

Kealakekua

  • Gypsea Gelato – They typically have at least one creamy vegan gelato flavor in addition to dairy-free sorbetto flavors.

Pāhoa

  • Island Naturals Market & Deli – This is the Big Island’s major natural food store. They carry lots of special diet brands in grocery, have some dairy-free deli options, and even offer some vegan treats in the bakery.
  • Nicoco Hawaiian Gelato – Lalita told us about this local spot that churns vegan, gluten-free, coconut milk-based gelato in over 400 rotating seasonal flavors. “It’s without a doubt the best vegan ice cream I’ve ever had, and I’ve had many in my 50 years as a vegan. The owners are super sweet folks, too, and now have [two]shops, with their delicious fresh-made (and gluten-free) waffle cones, milk shakes, and so on (Ashley creates beautiful custom vegan ice cream cakes!). Their products are available from several other select local retailers, as well, and they pop up at various events.”
  • Pahoa Smoothie Shack ⭐️ – This is a great little dairy-free and mostly vegan spot (they do use honey) for light eats. They have acai and pitaya bowls, juices, fruit smoothies, and a few bagel options, including cheezy bread.
  • Tin Shack Bakery – They offer fermented sourdough bagels, baked fresh daily, fruit smoothies, dairy-free golden mylk and coffee options, and usually have some other vegan baked goods.

Volcano Village

  • Café Ono – This is an organic restaurant located n the grounds of the historic Hopper Estate. Their lunch menu is about half vegan and gluten-free with options like a vegetable panini, chili, soup, and salad. They also serve tea with desserts midday, and serve a vegan carrot cake.

Dairy-Free Hawaii (The Big Island): Recommended Restaurants & Shops - from Hilo to Kailua-Kona - ice cream, baked goods, acai bowls, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and groceriesPhoto from Umekes Fish Market Bar & Grill in Kailua Kona

Local Dairy-Free Food & Drink Producers in Hawaii, The Big Island

These dairy-free friendly companies don’t have their own retail location, but are on The Big Island. So you have a good chance of finding their products at grocery stores, restaurants, and/or other shops in this state. Keep an eye out!

  • Big Island Coffee Roasters – In addition to coffee, they make “espresso bites” coffee bars – like chocolate but with coffee beans and cocoa butter instead of cacao beans. They come in two vegan varieties.
  • Big Island Creamery – This local dairy-free company makes cheese alternatives, macnutella, mini cheesecakes, and more vegan treats.
  • Dole Whip – This popular dairy-free soft serve can be found at many markets and restaurants. It usually comes in pineapple, but sometimes other fruity flavors are served.
  • Kipimana Hawaiian Granola – Each of their tropical flavors is made with pure, local ingredients, and without dairy, wheat, soy, additives, or preservatives.
  • Punahele Jerky – Fish jerky is popular on Hawaii, and this local company makes flavorful ahi, tako, and aku varieties.

Dairy-Free Hawaii (The Big Island): Recommended Restaurants & Shops - from Hilo to Kailua-Kona - ice cream, baked goods, acai bowls, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and groceriesPhoto from Sweet Journey Soft Serve in Kailua Kona

This Guide is Continuously Updated with Recommendations

We welcome you to recommend other dairy-free friendly restaurants. Leave a comment or contact us and tell us why you like a certain restaurant. Restaurant owners and employees are also invited to reach out and let us know how you welcome dairy-free customers.

Please kindly let us know in the comments if any of these restaurants close. We want to keep this list current for you, but aren’t always notified when a restaurant closes. Let us know and we will quickly update!

This Guide is for Informational Purposes Only

Menus, ingredients, kitchen procedures, management, and restaurants are subject to change at any time. Always read the menu and discuss your dietary needs with the staff before ordering. Make sure that they can accommodate your situation.

There is always a risk for potential cross-contamination of allergens in any commercial kitchen. If cross-contamination is an issue for you, always speak with the manager to ensure that your meal can be safely prepared. Listings here do not guarantee that a restaurant is safe enough for your individual needs. Only you can make that decision.

For More Dairy-Free Guidance, Get Go Dairy Free!

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About Author

Alisa is the founder of GoDairyFree.org, Food Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living, and the new cookbook, Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

1 Comment

  1. Wow, that sounds Delish!!! 🙂 & Dosas are amazing also. I was recently in India and I had one for the first time. I didn’t realize you could make vegan crepes with buckwheat or garbanzo flour. I always simply use regular all purpose flour, not the healthiest but it’s still yummy heheh! Thanks for sharing 🙂

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