Sunsets and Sand Welcome All to the Lava Lava Beach Club

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.

T with C's Tijuana Tiki at the Lava Lava Beach Club (Big Island, HI).

T with C’s Tijuana Tiki at the Lava Lava Beach Club (Big Island, HI). Notice the lovely musician in the background pre-sunset. Yep, we’re set up for a very lovely evening!

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?

One of my favorite photos to take while on vacation in Hawaii is one of everyone else taking a picture of the sunset. As you can see, the Lava Lava Beach Club is the sunset go-to location for many on the Big Island.

One of my favorite photos to take while on vacation in Hawaii is one of everyone else taking a picture of the sunset. As you can see, the Lava Lava Beach Club is the sunset go-to location for those staying on the Big Island. I took this from our table.

T on the rocks at the Lava Lava Beach Club, just steps from our dinner table.

T on the rocks just a few dozen steps from our dinner table at the Lava Lava Beach Club. This is the view north of the restaurant along Anaeho’omalu Bay and its beaches.

The sunset view from the Lava Lava Beach Club restaurant in Waikoloa, HI.

The sunset view from the shores adjacent to the Lava Lava Beach Club restaurant in Waikoloa, HI.

Our table's sunset view at the Lava Lava Beach Club.

Our table’s sunset view at the Lava Lava Beach Club.

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.

T with the live musician and hula dancer behind him at sunset at the Lava Lava Beach Club.

T at our table with the live musician and hula dancer behind him at sunset at the Lava Lava Beach Club. Yes, I think we win the award for best table.

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.

Coconut Shrimp at Lava Lava Beach Club.

The Coconut Shrimp at Lava Lava Beach Club.

Local farm-to-table style green salad at Lava Lava Beach Club.

“Spinugula” Salad, a local farm-to-table spinach and arugula mixed green salad at Lava Lava Beach Club.

A local pink snapper over baby bok choi and a pillow of rice, the daily special at Lava Lava Beach Club.

A local pink snapper over baby bok choy and a pillow of rice, the “Hook, Line, and Sinker” fresh catch special at Lava Lava Beach Club.

Child's Pineapple Fried Rice at Lava Lava Beach Club.

Child’s Menu Pineapple Fried Rice at Lava Lava Beach Club. Yes, it’s a very generous portion!

Tropical Dreams Ice Cream, caramel flavor.

Tropical Dreams Ice Cream, caramel flavor.

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.

A Gilligan's Girl cocktail at Lava Lava Beach Club.

Gilligan’s Girl cocktail at Lava Lava Beach Club.

Tijuana Tiki cocktail at Lava Lava Beach Club.

Tijuana Tiki cocktail at Lava Lava Beach Club.

T with my Lychee Loo cocktail at Lava Lava Beach Club.

T with my Lychee Loo cocktail at Lava Lava Beach Club.

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!

It's the little local charming touches, like bringing the bill inside of a keiki board book, that really make Lava Lava Beach Club an experience to remember. Thanks again to our server for a wonderful evening!

It’s the little local charming touches, like bringing the bill inside of a keiki board book, that really make Lava Lava Beach Club an experience to remember. Thanks again to our server Jon (a fellow San Diego native, too!) for a wonderful evening!

T took this photo of C and me at the Lava Lava Beach Club. Love it!

T took this photo of C and me at the Lava Lava Beach Club. Love it!

Cheers from the Lava Lava Beach Club!

Cheers from the Lava Lava Beach Club!

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!

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