Travel bites: The roadside taco bus where you dine alongside geckos and phenomonal views

There’s a bright green gecko eyeballing me as I chomp into my taco.

“This ain’t for you, buddy,”I warn him.

He swishes the tail. He seems to have everything planned. One of his mates sneaks up behind me while I am staring at his blue-ringed baubles. Another. I am outnumbered. This ain’t their first rodeo.

I’ve stumbled across Shaka Tacoz, a taco bus in Hawaii, while driving south from Kona on the Big Island. Ryan, my photographer and I were hungry and wandering and pulled over at a undescript location after we saw a sign for chips. We thought they meant hot chips but were disappointed to discover they only sold crisps.

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We continued on our way, despite the scorching sun, and came upon an old blue bus parked along the side of the road. It had a sign advertising tacos. Although it was not Mexico, the thought of fresh tacos made us rumble a little more.

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There’s a little café with seating, where you order your food, which is then cooked up in the back of the blue bus and served to you out the bus window. From there, you can head back into the café and out to the front deck and its jaw-dropping views of the ocean.

The gold dust day gecko is incredibly striking with exotic markings and has a bit of a sweet tooth.


The gold dust day gecko is an incredibly striking species with exotic markings. It also has a sweet tooth.

The blue ocean of the north Pacific Ocean is rich in color and melts into the horizon, making the distinction between the ocean and the sky difficult. It’s glorious. We take a seat outside, in the shade, and enjoy our delicious fresh snapper tacos.

We weren’t the only ones. This taco stop has a few extra permanent visitors – of the reptile kind – and if you’re not careful, they might just pinch your lunch. One is so famous, he even has a name – Jerry.

Shaka Tacoz may look humble from the outside but it serves up impressive tackos with beautiful views – and geckos for company.


Shaka Tacoz may look humble from the outside but it serves up impressive tackos with beautiful views – and geckos for company.

These geckos are the gold-dust day gecko. They were originally from Madagascar and can be found throughout Hawaii.

The gold dust day gecko is incredibly striking with exotic markings and apparently has somewhat of a sweet tooth – and on my taco plate is a lovely salsa made up of sticky sweet mango. Turns out Jerry is a big fan of mango hot sauce, and when I scroll through Shaka Tacoz social media, I see I’m not the first one to be on high alert for a taco thief.

The tacos are served up fresh with your choice of protein and level of spice in your sauce.


Tacos can be prepared fresh with your choice in protein and spice.

Aside from the threat of the thieving geckos, I’m in a taco heaven. They’re fresh and tasty with plenty of lime, lettuce, coriander, picked onions and ‘shaka sauce’ – the ingredients of which I was yet to figure out. There are also quesadillas and burritos as well as salads and bowls.

Once you’ve chosen your plate, you can choose your protein – pork, chicken, steak or fish, then your hot sauce. These range from a Jerry’s favourite, mild mango chilli, to ‘lava sauce’ – which I’m sure you can figure out the intensity of, judging by that description.

The views are truly breathtaking. However, the Pacific Ocean will amaze you as you enjoy freshly prepared tacos in the warm Hawaiian breeze.

Jerry and his friends should be on your guard.


How to get there: Hawaiian Airlines fly direct from Auckland to Honolulu. You can fly from Honolulu to Kona on an internal flight. See:

Eat:Shaka Tacoz lies 10 miles south of Kailua-Kona (Hawaii). See:

Stay:The Outrigger Kona Resort & Spa is located on the Kona Coast of Hawaii. See:

The writer’s trip to Hawaii was hosted by the Hawaiian Tourism Authority and Hawaiian Airlines.

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