Bites of travel: the roadside taco bus where you dine alongside geckos and phenomenal views

There’s a bright green gecko staring at me as I chew on my taco.

“Not for you, mate,” I warn him.

He wags his tail. He seems to have it all planned out. While I catch my eyes with his blue-ringed trinkets in a staring contest, one of his buddies sneaks in on the other side. And another. I’m outnumbered. It’s not their first rodeo.

I came across Shaka Tacoz, a taco bus in Hawaii, while driving south from Kona on the Big Island. Hungry and winding my photographer Ryan and I stopped somewhere random after seeing a sign for potato chips. Thinking it was hot fries, we were a bit disappointed to find that they only sold crisps.

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But we walked ahead in the hot sun, where we came across an old blue bus parked on the side of the road with a sign for tacos. Yes, it was Hawaii, not Mexico, but the thought of fresh tacos made our stomachs rumble a little louder.

There is a small cafe with seating, where you order your food, which is then prepared at the back of the blue bus and served to you through the bus window. From there you can return to the cafe and step out onto the foredeck and its breathtaking ocean views.

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

RYAN ANDERSON/Stuff

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

The blue sea of ​​the North Pacific Ocean is rich and deep and blends into the horizon, making it hard to tell where the ocean ends and the sky begins. It’s glorious. We sit outside in the shade, ready to eat our delicious fresh snapper tacos while peacefully gazing at the sensational view ahead.

But it turns out we weren’t alone. This taco stop has a few more permanent visitors — reptile-like — and if you’re not careful, they just might pinch your lunch. One of them is so famous that he even has a name: Jerry.

Shaka Tacoz may look humble from the outside, but it serves up awesome tackos with lovely views — and geckos for company.

RYAN ANDERSON/Stuff

Shaka Tacoz may look humble from the outside, but it serves up awesome tackos with lovely views — and geckos for company.

These geckos, the gold dust day gecko, are an introduced species to Hawaii, native to Madagascar, but can be seen throughout the Hawaiian Islands, and are distinctive with their bright red spots, golden spots, and highlights bruises around their eyes and on their feet.

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

Tacos are served chilled with your choice of protein and spice in your sauce.

RYAN ANDERSON/Stuff

Tacos are served chilled with your choice of protein and spice in your sauce.

The threat of robber geckos aside, I’m in taco heaven. They are fresh and flavorful with lots of lime, lettuce, cilantro, picked onions and ‘shaka sauce’ – the ingredients of which I hadn’t figured out yet. There is also quesadilla, burrito, salads or bowls available.

Once you’ve chosen your plate, you can choose your protein – pork, chicken, steak or fish, then your hot sauce. These range from Jerry’s favorite sweet mango chili to ‘lava sauce’ – the intensity of which I’m sure you can understand, judging by this description.

As for the views, they really have to be seen in person, but the expanse of the Pacific Ocean will blow your mind as you enjoy these freshly made tacos in the warm Hawaiian air.

Just watch out for Jerry and his friends.

Details:

Getting There : Hawaiian Airlines flies direct to Honolulu from Auckland. From Honolulu, you can take a domestic flight to Kona. See: hawaiianairlines.com

To eat: Shaka Tacoz is 10 miles south of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. See: www.shakatacoz.com

Stay: Outrigger Kona Resort and Spa is located on the Kona Coast of Hawaii Island. See: outriggerkona.com

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

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