Your local Kauai friends couldn’t wait for your visit. They met you at Koloa Landing Resort soon after you checked in to catch up over a round of Mai Tais in the gorgeous lobby at sunset. When you asked them for their absolute must-do’s on the South Shore they did not hesitate. They said that without question you must not miss: 1. Swimming at Poipu Beach, 2. Hiking the Heritage Trail, and 3. Chowing down piles of lomi salmon and wasabi poke at the Koloa Fish Market. They paused, whispered amongst themselves briefly and then agreed that the first two were negotiable.

An institution in Old Koloa Town for a quarter century, Koloa Fish Market is that little corner of seafood heaven you wish was down the street in your own home town on the mainland — but never quite could be. Island-friendly, no-nonsense, great value and a fantastic selection, the fish is so fresh it’s as though it leapt right out of the Pacific Ocean and into your lunch. 

Though Koloa Fish Market recently moved to a new location on Poipu Road, little else has changed. It is still an unassuming walk up counter with a deep focus on the quality of the cuisine. The Koloa Fish Market menu offers a cornucopia of local delights: Poke many (many) different ways, lomi salmon, lau lau pork, kalua pig, shoya chicken, seafood chowders and handmade desserts. New specials are offered up and the catch of the day is ever changing. You could have kim chee tako poke today and pork with eggplant tomorrow. If you’re throwing an island bash, this is an ideal call for catering. Ask any Kauai regular and they will tell you that the quality here has remained unwaveringly high for decades.

Founded by the Matsuoka family more than 25 years ago, Jason Matsuoka says, “We started right after Hurricane Iniki. My father, Bert Matsuoka, was the executive chef at the Sheraton and decided to branch off. When I finished school, he, my mom, my auntie and I went to business for ourselves.” 

Don’t let the long line snaking out the door give you pause. The staff is always upbeat and professional and they move you through swiftly — plus it’s fun to see what everyone else is ordering. When your bento-box of goodness lands in your hands and you head to one of the little tables or to the beach to chow down picnic-style you agree it was well worth the wait. The Koloa Fish Market menu also offers an array of fresh-caught fish to take home to prepare yourself. The staff is ready to counsel with you on the best way to cook each variety. Some are best barbecued while others will work wonders in a skillet or oven. But one thing is true for all: No fish are as flavorful and delicate as those caught that very day. Mmmm.

Major bonus: your villa at Koloa Landing Resort has a full gourmet kitchen with all the cookware you could need. After a quick stop at the on-resort Marketplace for some additional provisions, you are ready to get cheffing. You mix up a fresh batch of Mai Tais, and you and your spouse toast to creating the best dinner ever: You make all the yummy side dishes in your kitchen and barbecue the fish on the resort’s outdoor grill by the pool. When you call and invite your local Kauai friends to join you, you tell them it’s an absolute must-do.

by Erica Karlin — Koloa Landing Resort

The Koloa Fish Market is open Monday thru Friday 10:00am to 6:00pm. Saturday 10:00am to 5:00pm and closed on Sunday. Address: 3390 Poipu Rd, Koloa, HI 96756. Telephone: (808) 742-6199  Designated and street parking available.