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Navigating the Big Island of Hawaii with Celiac and a Peanut Allergy

Navigating the Big Island of Hawaii with Celiac and a Peanut Allergy
Are you heading to the Big Island of Hawaii? I've compiled a list to aid fellow gluten intolerant, peanut allergic travelers based on our experiences and the resources that we found.

Last summer, we made our second family trip to Hawaii. The problem with Hawaii is that once you have visited this spectacular place, you simply MUST return! Vibrant flowers, black, white and even green sand beaches, waterfalls, a lush rainforest, an active volcano, delicious fruits, Kona coffee, there is so much to enjoy on this diverse island! I've been to the Caribbean and it is beautiful but for me, it doesn't have the same appeal as Hawaii. We've taken our family to a variety of destinations since that first trip as we're not big on returning to the same place twice but eventually we decided to head back. Mind you, it took seven years to make that return. As a couple, we could have trekked there much sooner but we love to travel with our children! They enjoyed snorkeling with sea turtles, sampling exotic fruits, learning Hawaiian words and history and hiking in the breath-taking terrain as much as we did.

Having a son with a food allergy and celiac disease means that extra planning is in order to get foods that meet his needs. With two weeks to spend on this island, I did as much research as I could do in advance. Despite this, we learned a lot just by visiting.

In the event that you are planning a trip to Hawaii, I'd like to pass along some tips. Personally, I love finding blog entries about my destination to help me prepare so I'm happy to pay it forward. Finding safe food can be challenging!

The island of Hawaii (AKA The Big Island)


If you need specialty groceries, a visit to Island Naturals Market and Deli is a must. It's a well-stocked store with produce, a fabulous deli and many of those staples that you count on at home. If you have researched Hawaii, you know that the cost of groceries is outlandish and health food products are no exception. With the majority of foods imported, costs are high! When checking out, practice deep breathing. Visualize the ocean waves hitting the shore. This is the worst part of a trip to Hawaii and it will soon be over.

Costco is great place to stock up on some essentials, particularly if you have a long stay or a big family to feed. The only Costco on the island is in Kailua-Kona. People rave about the gas being cheaper and about the great prices on beach items that you may not have been able to squeeze into your suitcase.

There are three main supermarkets: KTA, Sack N Save Kona (a Foodland supermarket) and Safeway. We stayed in Keauhou and shopped at the KTA there and made a few trips back to Kailua-Kona to get to the Safeway and Island Naturals. In the big supermarkets we were able to find a limited amount of gluten-free bread and items that we buy at home such as Amy's frozen dinners.

A word of caution about the KTA: They prepare boiled peanuts in the seafood department, wrap them up and place them on the shelves with the fresh fish. This came as a shock to us. Our condo owners had highly recommended the KTA in Keauhou as they bring in fresh local fish each day. Apparently, this is not the case with all the supermarkets. A lot of the seafood is shipped in. After speaking with the department manager, it was suggested that we call the KTA at 7am when they open and ask them to prepare some fish for us in a freshly cleaned area before they handle the peanuts. We ended up driving in to the Safeway to get our fish instead, due to time restrictions with a booked excursion.

Click here to read the rest of the tips from Sweeten The Trip!

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