Have you ever dined with a view of the sunset over the ocean? Yes? OK, then… have you dined near the beach while watching the sunset over the ocean? You have? Well, then, have you dined ON THE SAND while listening to the waves crash against the rocks as a live musician plays alongside an interpretive hula dancer at sunset? Um, no? Well, we’d be saying no, too, but we now can say we have all thanks to the Lava Lava Beach Club.
Upon hearing it for the first time, the Lava Lava Beach Club’s name struck me as a bit over-the-top and hoity-toity, especially for the Big Island. However, I assure you that this isn’t a country club atmosphere in any way, shape, or form, and thank god for that! Tucked away in a quiet, rustic cove down a narrow road behind the Queens’ Marketplace and Anaeho’omalu Beach south of the Marriott resort, the Lava Lava Beach Club’s hut-like, open-air architecture welcomes guests onto the sands of Waikoloa Beach. It’s also adjacent a very quaint, four-cottage hotel of the same name. While a shirt might be required at the restaurant (though I don’t even know about that for sure), shoes are definitely optional. I don’t know any country club where that law applies, do you?
Erupting with many wonderful surprises, the Lava Lava Beach club blows guests away on all levels. First off, they exceed any and all Hawaiian sunset expectations. We had dined a number of times with a gorgeous view of the sunset over the ocean both here in California and abroad on our travels in Hawaii and elsewhere. We even have dined on beaches during our travels (our honeymoon in St. Barth’s and the pebble beaches of Monaco a few years after that come to mind). However, I can’t say we’d ever put the three experiences together and had dinner at sunset on an actual sand beach literally footsteps from the crashing surf.
The live music and hula performance at Lava Lava was a happy accident, as was the fact that we planned our visit during their very awesome and generously priced happy hour. These three additions additionally upgraded the already spectacular experience and views. Not that we needed further upgrading or any reminders that we were in fact dining on the beach in Hawaii, but these extra amenities really turned what we thought was just to be another dinner out into a really memorable and special event.
And oh yeah, the food and drink at Lava Lava were exceptional and nothing short of fantastic. I wasn’t that hungry so I got a coconut shrimp appetizer (no really, that’s an appetizer pictured above!) and a spinugula (spinach-arugula) salad made with local greens, strawberries, candied macadamia nuts, and other fresh farm-to-table items. Lava Lava’s coconut shrimp were some of the best coconut-crusted shrimp I’ve had to date; the shrimp were cooked just right and the coating was crunchy, sweet, and light. C got the local catch of the day, prepared “Hook, Line, and Sinker”-style, the chef’s special preparation for the daily fresh fish, and it was scrumptious. T got pineapple fried rice with chicken and some other vegetables in it, and he devoured it (I snagged a bite or two, and it was terrific). We wrapped up the meal with some of that Tropical Dreams Ice Cream we’ve come to love, this time caramel; it was perfect as it always is.
The drinks were at Lava Lava are local but with unique, modern (and at times trendy) twists. C got a Tijuana Tiki, a tequila-based cooler served in a palm-green tiki tumbler; aside from the tiki reference, that drink really did take me right back to TJ (ah memories, right RMT’ers?!). I got a couple of different drinks, kicking things off with a Gilligan’s Girl (made with coconut water, nice!), but the one that stood out most was the Lychee Loo. One, it’s totally delicious (and again, just different enough to be intriguing), and two, it comes in its own souvenir take-home coconut cup. Did someone say take-home coconut cup?! Yes, yes they did and yes, yes I did. Cheers!
Two words sum up Lava Lava’s approach to dining on the Big Island: Casual elegance. Lava Lava does a perfect job at mixing local, honest Aloha flavors and atmosphere with a top-notch level of menu offerings and service that visitors would be hard-pressed to find together at any other Big Island restaurant-bar. I don’t think anyone could ask for or expect more from the Lava Lava Beach Club. Well, I guess they could, but I’d have to call them out for being completely unrealistic in an already unbelievable situation.
Please share your own fantastic vacation dining memory with us, RMT’ers. We’re always looking for recommendations!