Kona Farmers Market

Kona Farmers Market, Big Island, Hawaii

Fruit Stand, Kona Farmers Market

Every farmers market expresses the soul of a community. A visit to the Kona Farmers Market is celebrated with tropical fruits, Hawaiian arts and crafts, and the ease of gentle people, warm air and sea breezes.

 

On the west coast of Hawaii’s Big Island is the town of Kailua-Kona. Most people just call it Kona. We visit Kona every few years, usually for a week in December to escape the winter weather and holiday chaos at home.

 

We always go birding and snorkeling, and visit the Kona Market. Every Kona visit is planned around when the Kona Market is open.

Pacific Ocean and palm trees from Alii Drive, Kona, Hawaii

An open air market, it is located on Alii Drive, a narrow street hugging the coastline. It is open every week, Wednesday through Sunday, 7 am – 4 pm.

 

A parking lot on Mondays and Tuesdays, the market comes alive all the other days with locals and tourists, fresh farm produce, art, and souvenirs.

 

We go early–less people and more peace–and hear the rhythmic cooing of zebra doves, accompanied by squawks and chirps of the ubiquitous mynas.

Common Myna, Hawaii

On one side of the market you see the volcano Hualalai in the distance. It is an active volcano, so there are no dwellings or vegetation, just old lava spills and the vast openness.

 

On the other side of the market, across the street, is the sea. Lapping waves, black lava rock covered with skittering black crabs, and palm trees. Sometimes there’s a cruise ship docked in the bay; always there are surfers, paddleboarders and Hawaiian outrigger canoeists.

 

This town, this bay, is where the annual Ironman Triathlon takes place every October.

 

Occasionally there will be a green sea turtle foraging on the rocks, oblivious to the traffic on Alii Drive.

Green Sea Turtle on lava, Big Island

 

This rock wall, below, separates the market parking lot from the pedestrian sidewalk. It’s made out of the Big Island’s most prevalent earthen substance: black lava rock.

Zebra doves and bougainvillea at the Kona Market

 

We walk to the market from our rental condo and wear backpacks, knowing we will buy a few Hawaiian togs at our favorite clothing tent…our summerwear. In December summer seems so far away; but  n o t  when you’ve landed in Kona.

Clothing stand at Kona Farmers Market

 

We also fill up our backpacks with fresh exotic fruits, enjoy them all week.  Papayas so ripe and tender that you can open them with a butter knife. Hawaiian apple-bananas, half the size of a grocery store banana and with a more mellow flavor. Pineapples, mangos, avocados, star fruits, rambutans, and many more.

 

Paintings and other fine, hand-crafted art are based on the Hawaiian themes of volcanoes, Polynesian history, the ocean and all the creatures who live in it. Kona coffee, guava jam, macadamia nuts, coconuts, and an array of touristy baubles are also for sale.

Kona Farmers Market

 

I spotted a gecko on a pole who enticed us into this flower stand. It teased us, displaying its exotic beauty but never sitting still long enough to be photographed.

Flower stand at the Kona Farmers Market

On a winter day in December, there is nothing quite so sublime as slowly walking through the tropical Kona Farmers Market.

 

Written by Jet Eliot.

Photos by Athena Alexander.

Gold Dust Day Gecko, Hawaii

 

70 thoughts on “Kona Farmers Market

  1. Jet: Cool 😎 I enjoy the places You have visited. Thanks for sharing 🙂 I would not be comfortable though with a lizard setting on my knee 🦎 I don’t like mice either…that why I got a ‘Cat’ 😸 ~Willy

    • Hi Deborah. Yes, it is a wonderful place to visit and shop. I am a person who prefers everything outdoors, where I can breathe fresh air and spot wildlife even when I’m shopping. I’m really glad you enjoyed the market post today, thanks so much.

  2. Spectacular colors, exotic landscapes and creatures, and an abundance of fruit and flowers–it’s easy to see, Jet, why a place like that would chase away any winter blues. I can imagine myself sitting and taking it all in with a mug of Kona coffee in hand 🙂

    • I truly enjoyed your comment, Mike. Yes, you would like it here with your mug of Kona coffee. I don’t recall dragonflies, as I think back on it, but there are plenty of other beautiful insects and fun creatures to befriend. Warm greetings to you this morning, my friend.

  3. I’d never want to leave. I love sampling tropical fruits and checking out the homemade items. The view isn’t bad either. My only knowledge of myna birds is from a pet shop decades ago. Those were black. This guy is kind of interesting.

    • It is indeed hard to leave here, Craig. Mynas are not native to Hawaii, but they are prolific on the islands now. I love them, they’re cheeky and loud and have an impressive repertoire of songs. Warm smiles and thanks to you.

  4. Should we find ourselves in Kona in the future, I will definitely be wandering to this market. Your tour made me feel as though I was walking with you. My mouth is watering at the description of the fresh fruits. Will you be thinking about going to Kona this December? My understanding is that Hawaii is stopping its 14 day quarantine on September 1st. Not that it means people will necessarily be comfortable traveling to get there.
    Sending you and Athena our very best. I enjoyed this glimpse of Hawaii a great deal. Our own family holiday having been cancelled in march we are left wondering when and if that will ever happen. For now I take comfort in a virtual walk with your memories.

    • It’s all we can do right now to take pleasure in past trips and look forward to future ones, eh, Sue? So I’m glad I could lend some of the Aloha spirit to your day, today. I’d like to go back to Kona this Dec., and we have a week set aside for vacation just in case. But I went on a day trip yesterday to the coast, and was shocked by the doubled amount of people outdoors, and found it difficult to relax. So, as it has been for half of this year, we’ll have to see how the future unfolds. You and Dave, BTW, would enjoy Kona. Lots of water sports, and it’s also fun to book a day trip to the mountains with an outdoor nature guide. Cheers my friend, and many thanks.

    • Mynas are songbirds, so they’re not very big, about twice the size of a sparrow. Beautiful sounds emerge from this bird, Alastair, something I know you would enjoy. Thanks for your visit with me to Kona today.

  5. Looks like a great place to escape to in December! But don’t you ever worry about the volcano going off? When we went to Sicily we saw smoke plumes coming out of Mount Etna and we certainly wouldn’t want to be too nearby if it did decide to erupt!

    • That’s a good question, Mike. Volcanos are a way of life in Hawaii, but that’s not something I could live with. (I realize people say the same thing about California and earthquakes and wildfires.) The other side of the Big Island is much more susceptible to frequent eruptions and damaging lava flows, but this Kona side is more quiescent. Wonderful to “see” you today, and oh how I enjoyed the butterflies in your Alps today.

      • This exchange made me smile. I have a friend who grew up in Librizzi, Sicily. She said it was the custom for her family to sit out on their balcony in the evening with an apertif and watch Mt. Etna when she was active. She swore it was better than television; apparently familiarity bred comfort!

      • Oh how I enjoyed this contribution to the conversation, Linda. I love the image of your friend and her family enjoying apertifs from the balcony, watching their Mt. Etna smoke and steam and gurgle. They probably talk to their friends and loved ones afterward, comparing stories of what they saw and experienced…just like we do here with the EQs and wildfires. We don’t take it lightly, and we suffer during those terrifying times when danger looms. But we don’t move away either. Warm thanks to you….

  6. What a total delight! An awesome variety of native animals, a local clothing market presenting many
    of the finest hand made wares, and of course beautiful natural sights that take your breath away.
    Now, is Kona worth visiting, oh yeah. Lovely post Jet

  7. thank you for taking us to Kona Farmers Market, Jet! and to have it by the beach plenty of sunshine and sea breeze is simply awesome! we have a farmers market next town which i go every year but didn’t venture out this season because of many restrictions and much less vendors. great post and photography as always! happy Friday 🙂 🙂

  8. I love Hawaii and I love farmer’s markets. They tell you so much about a place. How wonderful that you are geographically placed to be able to go there every year….

    Thank you for sharing this with us…..much food for thought:). Have a wonderful weekend. Janet X

    • I, too, love Hawaii and farmers markets, Janet. When they are year-round it is an extra bonus. I’m happy you stopped by for an aloha moment, and am wishing you peace and ease for this weekend. Thanks so much.

  9. Such a sensually rich posting, Jet… I felt I could almost hear, see, smell, feel and taste the market with you. Thank you!

    • Thanks so much, Nan. I’m glad you could vicariously join us at the Kona Market today. I am grateful we have spent many hours together in various farmers markets, and I know you would like this one.

  10. It looks sublime, Jet. Just what I need to look at and read about at the moment. I love such markets, especially the wonderful tropical fruit you described so lusciously. I hope you’ll be able to visit Kona again this December.

    • I am so happy I could share the bliss of the Kona Market with you today, Sylvia. I, too, hope I can visit Kona again this December, but with the pandemic still raging, I am guessing it will probably not happen. But the photographs are helpful for these lockdown times. Thanks so much for your visit today.

  11. Very nice post, Jet. I’ve never been to Hawaii, they do have great fruit and fantastically big waves. They even have Geico Insurance for their cars or should I say on their cars (See last photo). Thank you for the tour. 🙂

    • ha ha Funny joke about Geico Insurance, HJ. That gecko species in the last photo, the Gold Dust Day, is the model for the Geico mascot, so you are exactly right. They are a spectacular-looking reptile and we see them a lot on the Big Island, eating in the papaya trees, on palm trees in outdoor restaurants, in gardens, and I never ever get tired of them. Glad I could share a little visit to the Big Island with you, my friend. Thanks so much for your visit today.

    • Yes, Anneli, the tropical produce in that market is such a treat. It’s odd, but when we walk into the local Safeway grocery store in Kona, just blocks away, only half of that luscious fruit is there, and none of it is as ripe or fresh as the Kona Market. I’m glad you enjoyed the Kona Market post. Thanks very much for visiting.

    • Oh the pineapple in Hawaii is so fresh and delicious, really a great treat. One of my sisters ate too much pineapple on her first visit to Hawaii, made her sick. I love hearing that you did that too. You and I are lucky living on the west coast here, Hawaii is a relatively easy destination, yet a world all its own. Mahalo Jan.

  12. Looks delightful, Jet. I’d love to visit the Gilbert farmers market, but the last I saw, they wanted customers to order in advance and just pick up. That’s fine if you’re familiar with the vendors or of their websites were set up to help. But neither is true. 😢. I’ll have to enjoy yours and that beautiful gecko!

    janet

    • Even farmers markets get complicated during Covid, right Janet? I’m glad I could give you a virtual taste of the Kona Market and keep it enjoyable and simple. Many thanks for your lovely visit.

    • And a warm aloha to you, too, Bill. With your son living there, you are lucky to have had many trips in paradise. Glad I could share some of the Kona magic with you today. Mahalo, dear Bill.

  13. I loved reading about “gentle people, warm air and sea breezes” – and the colourful photographs and descriptions of what’s on the market stalls almost persuaded me I could enjoy shopping. Well, who wouldn’t enjoy a December trip like this?!
    This was lovely – thanks, Jet!

    • When you’re breathing fresh air, receiving the scent of plumeria, and choosing sun-ripened fruits, even grocery shopping becomes a magical experience. I’m happy you took it all in here at the Kona Market with me today, pc. And really glad you enjoyed it. My warmest to you and Mrs. PC and Scout. Hope your weekend has some fresh and fun moments.

  14. I’ll soon be off to our farmers’ market, but it’s hardly as expansive as this one. The Kona market reminds me of those in West Africa, although they were more chaotic than it appears this one is. They were great fun, though, once I got used to haggling and used to some of the customs, like selling beef in chunks created with a machete. Most of the market women displayed their wares on cloths spread on the ground — sometimes in piles, sometimes not. My houseboy went with me from time to time, and he had the most amazing ability to look at a pile of rice and know exactly how much rice it actually contained. Now and then, the seller would say “four cups” and he’d give her the business because it only was three and a half. He never was wrong!

    • Wonderful to hear about the market you went to in West Africa, Linda. We visited one in East Africa that sounds much like the one you describe. I will never forget the image of women in colorful cotton clothing carrying a large basket on their heads filled with bananas, and usually a swaddled baby on their chests. I find the local markets to be spirited and delightfully cultural. Liked the rice story! Many thanks.

    • Yes, it really is a great getaway. I’m not a big fan of holiday hoopla, and although they of course celebrate in Hawaii too, it takes on a different tone in the tropics. Ornaments with Santa on a surf board make me smile. Always a pleasure to have you stop by, Andrea, thank you.

  15. I’m with you about an aversion to holiday hoopla. I’ve managed to avoid most of it by staying home even before the pandemic. A whole bunch more economical that way. 😊

    • Avoiding the holidays is not a very easy thing to do, goes against the grain of much of society. But I find it much more relaxing, and take great pleasure in visiting with loved ones at other, less stressful, times of the year. Of course, that’s all moot right now. Good thing we get such a kick out of the wildlife, eh, Gunta? So many thanks!

      • I’m with you (as you may have noted)! If I remember right we also share an aversion to big city hustle and bustle. Quiet, relaxing, less stressful are the operative words! It sure is lovely to observe the wildlife behavior up close and over an extended amount of time. Normally we might have missed some of this while we were gadding about! 😉

    • I’m happy you were vicariously walking with us through the Kona Market, Bertie, and I had to chuckle at your “big” backpack. Yes, you would like it here. There’s an endearing quirkiness. Wonderful to receive both your visits, and your message, thanks so much.

  16. Exotic is the first word that comes to mind looking at that lizard. What a beautiful world we live in. The market is neat. I wonder about the origin of the fruit. Is this all locally grown?

    • Hi Inese, So nice that you could take a vicarious trip with us to the Kona Market. I agree, “exotic” is the word for this market. And yes, all these fruits are grown locally. Great gecko, too, I just love them. Thanks so much for your visits today.

  17. Ah, you made me homesick for Hawaii. You go in December, we go every February, and are crossing fingers we can make it this year. I’ve never been to the Big Island (I know, sad) but not sure I could ever give up going to the “Garden Island” which so far is still smaller and less populated than the other islands. And yes, we love going to the farmer’s market while we’re there for 3 weeks. Most of the nights we cook in, and oh the pineapples, and the vegetables, and the pasta and even the pies that are sold at the Markets. Scrumptious. Also, first thing we do when we arrive to the island is visit a local florist (through tiny winding streets to her home garage) and buy a bouquet of tropical home-grown flowers. Seriously, I think I could live there year round. Thanks for stirring up my memories. Hope you get to return soon. And also, thinking of you as these CA fires spread smoke and ash and fear. xo

    • Aloha Pam. I enjoyed your comment, thanks so much. I can see why you would enjoy Kauai so much, that is another wonderful Hawaiian island. I enjoyed hearing about your adventures, and how wonderful to have three weeks there. I’ve been there a few times, and always great fun and so utterly beautiful. Kauai looks more like a tropical island than the Big Island. The Big Island has a lot of moon-like regions, due to the lava flows, and I really like that, it is unique and there are great birds there. This week in No. Calif. has been a bit rough with all the fires, still 0% containment and lots of devastation. We personally have not been evacuated, so I’m glad about that, but we’re all struggling here with trying to breathe and also staying calm after having gone through so much firestorm devastation just 3 yrs ago. Thanks, my friend, great to hear from you.

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