The Kohala coast seems to stretch almost endlessly on the Big Island of Hawaii. And nothing might be more memorable than seaside dining at sunset. The restaurants along this coast have maximized their seating and arrangements for the best viewing. While almost all feature local seafood, you will be surprised at the variety of options, which give you a memorable meal with an even more interesting view and setting. Ulu Ulu at the Four Seasons Hualalai sits directly adjacent to the gentle surf beach with no table being a bad table. Combine breakfast, lunch or dinner with the crashing waves and with their stellar menu. Working with a bevy of local farmers and fisherman, you will get an upscale Hawaiian meal. Make it fish with Charred Hawaiian Hapu’upu’u – lemongrass creamed Hilo corn, romesco, and yuzu beurre blanc. Add mushroom fried rice, and you can bet on the aaahhhh factor. Rays on the Bay If you want to see the ocean and marine activity, head to the south side of Kona to Rays on the Bay at the Sheraton. Not only do you get to see the sunset, the manta rays come out for feeding under the lights. With music, a spacious lounge/bar area and the local wildlife, that would be enough. But wait, start with an Orchid Breeze with Domaine Chandon Brut, Distillery No. 209 Gin, and guava liqueur. The most unique entrée is Hilo Wild Boar with slowly braised ragout, hand-cut pappardelle pasta, grand padano cheese and rosemary. Hau Tree Where the coast takes a northwestern turn to Kawaihae, the Hau Tree at the Mauna Kea Beach Resort gives you toes-in-the-sand dining for lunch or dinner. A little more casual, and you can just come in from snorkeling or swimming for lunch, while every Saturday is the legendary Clam Bake (Yes, Elvis is reported to have made an appearance). Lunchtime favorites are the tater-tot nachos and just about any burger. Mi’s Waterfront Bistro When you have a yen for pasta, get to Mi’s Waterfront Bistro for innovative Italian with an ocean view. And, they make all their pastas and sauces. You get classically prepared dishes with a Kona twist such as Crab Manicotti combining three kinds of cheese, green beans, tomato and green chilies baked in marinara with Italian bread crumbs. Another perennial favorite as you watch the waves is the Herb & Cheese Ravioli with broccoli florets, toasted pine nuts, and a blue cheese cream sauce. Deserts get the same creative touch with their Tiramisu, an award winner from the Kona Coffee Festival. Huggo’s Huggo’s is one of the original restaurants in Kona, and sunsets are unique because the restaurant deck is essentially its own pier. The iconic view draws you in, but the food and drink make it the complete experience. While there is plenty of fish on the menu, the real stopper is the Signature Teriyaki grilled flank steak with local Asian greens and bamboo rice. And, in the morning, a Hawaiian breakfast calls with seaside omelets. Coast Grille The Hapuna Prince is a classic Hawaiian hotel, so expect the Coast Grille to have some classics with an exceptional sunset view. 40% of the menu includes locally sourced ingredients. For example, many of the vegetables and herbs used in the Poke Nachos coming from the Hapuna garden. Here the menu is less fixed and more about what is available and fresh at the time with a classic sunset view. They offer the Big Island’s only oyster bar combined with a design-your-own-Poke menu. The Coast Grille hosts a regular wine and other spirits dinner, one of the few restaurants on the island to give the traveler this option. Lava Lava Beach Club The Lava Lava Beach Club sits right on the edge of Anaehoomalu Bay. A cozy combination of beach, sand and open air dining. Nightly entertainment of guitar and hula compliments the spectacular sunsets. The menu does rotate a bit, so start with the edame appetizer or the standing Ahi nachos. While everything tends to taste wonderful as the waves roll, the Hook, Line & Sinker is the chef’s inspired fish creation of the day and never fails. Kamuela Provision Company Whale watching season is always a little more exciting at the Kamuela Provision Company because you can easily see them breach the water on their migration. This might be the best spot on the Big Island for a romantic dinner, as they have just upped their cocktail offerings to include jet-fuel potent signature martinis in the adjacent Blue Lounge. The Hudson Farm Kumato Tomato Salad takes that little starter to new heights with the shaved Kula onions and blue cheese. The Ginger Infused Steamed Monchong (a local fish) gets a treatment of cilantro, carrot, green onion, kabayaki treatment, sizzling peanut oil, and sushi rice cake. Fishhopper If you want a large variety of local catches, the Fishhopper in downtown Kona gives you a great bay and people watching combined with innovative seafood. They have the Big Island’s longest happy hour, starting at 2 p.m. with both food and drink specials. Consistently voted the best Mai Tai on the island, so you can’t go wrong with that libation. The best fish combo is Local Monchong with creamy risotto, which takes the broiled Monchong, and then adds creamy risotto mixed with artichoke hearts, tomatoes, and spinach. Top the whole creation with Beurre Blanc sauce. This is one of the few places where you can get fresh fish and chips made with local Kona beer!
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