We brought two packages of pasta salad with us, because pasta salad is delicious, packs light, and is good to have on hand. Other things we could have brought if we had room were milk, peanut butter, crackers, microwave popcorn, and olive oil.
We went to Costco our first day and bought:
-gourmet pitas (10)
-sliced cheese (we ate almost all of this but probably should have bought 2 normal sized packages at Target)
-GoPicnic meals (4 came in a package - two hummus and crackers, two turkey and crunch - we bought one package)
-freezer meals (one package of four Indian microwaveable dinners)
-trail mix (that giant blue bag - finished it in five days - diving is hungry work)
-babybel cheeses (these were a mistake, because we bought the full-fat ones that are not as good as the light ones)
-a pizza ($10 for a large and was surprisingly good)
-bananas (I get foot cramps and needed to eat them before diving)
-a pineapple ($3 - not the best pineapple I've ever had, but cheap and local)
We also hit Target and picked up:
-Potato chips (these were insanely expensive, hence the recommendation to bring popcorn in the future)
Later in the week, we went to a grocery store to buy local fish and produce to grill out. We ate the following for dinner:
-Pizza (1 night and several breakfasts)
-Indian microwaveable meals (2 nights)
-Grilled cheese and tomato soup (bread and soup bought in volcano at a steep markup)
-Grilled fish & veggies and a side of pasta salad
(Kona Canoe Club)We went out for the following meals:
-Happy hour at the Kona Canoe Club (highly recommend - cheap happy hour, delicious nachos)
-Happy hour at one of the touristy places on the water front
-Lunch at the Kona Brewing Company (highly recommend, but pricy)
-Brunch at the Kilauea Lodge
-Lunch at Tex's Drive In (go here and get Malasadas. Seriously. Also other food.)
If we had had an extra night, I think we would have grilled out again. Sitting on the deck, watching the sun set, and enjoying a bottle of wine, fresh fish, and grilled zucchini and eggplant was spectacular. I also would have maybe bought a couple more dinner in a box meals instead of the microwaveable ones. I also would have made a point to seek out the local Volcano wine and bought a bottle of that when we got there, because it was delicious. I think they sell it at Hilo Hatties, the ABC stores, and supposedly at Costco though I didn't see it there.
Kona didn't feel like a huge food town, and the amount of research we would need to do to guarantee we had a good meal for a good price was huge, so we decided to stick to happy hour and cooking on our own, which worked out well for us with our style. When we go to Bonaire, we bring a whole suitcase of food for the week and eat out maybe one night, so this was a step up from that. If that feels like sheltered eating and not experiencing local culture, then you should absolutely eat out and enjoy yourself on vacation. Kailua-Kona felt like such a big tourist town with so many potential tourist trap restaurants with high prices and mediocre food that we decided that cooking was a better bet.
If you have restaurant recommendations, please share them!