Hawaii: the land of the fruitful… seriously, these islands are literally full of fruit. Hawaii is a fruit lover’s paradise with every street corner inhabited by a farmer’s market or fruit stand. While you’re driving the winding roads, you may even see giant fruit trees flourishing on the side of the street. Speaking of “winding roads,” if you’re looking for a fun Hawaiian adventure, check out my travel blog post for The Road to Hana, The Best Luaus in Maui, Hawaii, or Snuba Diving at Molokini Crater in Maui, Hawaii.
Food in Hawaii may be expensive, but the local fruit is not because it is so plentiful and readily accessible. Most people who have fruit stands practically give away their fruit for free because the fruit will spoil if they don’t get rid of it.
There were multiple occasions in my trip to Maui, Hawaii when locals would park in popular parking lots and sell their fruit out of the back of their trucks for a quarter or two. This was the best way to get fresh, local, and cheap Hawaiian fruit. Do not be fooled by the grocery stores on the island charging excessive amounts for their fruit. They are more than likely importing it, which means it is not even local Hawaiian fruit!
Below, I have listed 10 tropical fruits with their common name, Hawaiian name, tasting notes, and personal opinions. Don’t forget to comment on this post with your favorite Hawaiian fruits!
Hawaiian Name: Mikana
Tasting Notes: Melon-like fruit with a light sweetness
Personal Notes: I was debating on writing a personal note for this fruit or not because of my experiences with papayas, but I always give you guys my honest opinion so here it is… I hate papayas. Ok, I said it. A lot of people agree that they do smell like feet, but I think they taste like it too. I couldn’t understand how people ate them because of their “unique” flavor, which led me to do a little research. I find out that papayas that have not fully ripened often have a feet-like smell and little to no taste. I think to fully complete my research I need to take a trip back to Hawaii to taste a ripe papaya. What do you guys think?
Mistakenly called: Lychee (not the same, but very similar)
Tasting Notes: Very sweet, juicy, and mild; similar to a grape without its skin
Personal Notes: I love rambutan and lychee in all forms; freshly cracked out of its shell, in a dessert, or even in a cocktail (of course that is my favorite version of it). The fruit itself is not just delicious, but also fun! Rambutan come in a hard spikey little ball that you have to cut or crack open and the delicate fruit is nestled inside.
Proper Name: Pitahaya
Tasting Notes: Juicy sweet notes with tart snaps when biting the seeds
Personal Notes: Dragon fruit is probably the most breathtaking and tropical looking fruit of them all. They are bright pink with green tipped flame looking pieces growing up them. The inside of the dragon fruit has a lot of little black seeds and its meat is either white or a deep magenta depending on the variety. They have a very mild taste almost like a kiwi and are fairly easy to eat since you just cut it in half, scoop out the inside, and cut it up. Dragon fruits are plentiful in Hawaii and you can even take a tour of a dragon fruit farm in Maui. If you’re not up for the farm tour, at least stop at a local fruit stand and pick one up for the photo op because they are truly a picturesque fruit.
Hawaiian Name: Hala kahiki
Tasting Notes: Sweet, juicy, with a bit of an acidic bite
Personal Notes: Most people have had plenty of pineapple in their lifetime, but not Hawaiian pineapple. They are extra sweet and very tiny compared to the commercialized grocery store pineapples we are used to seeing. Hawaiian pineapples are small, tender, delicious, and are found in abundance on the Hawaiian Islands. The actual Dole Plantation, as in Dole Pineapples, is located on Oahu and is a popular tourist attraction. There is also a Maui Pineapple Tour through the Maui Gold facilities. Like I said, plenty of pineapples to go around!
Proper Name: Carambola
Tasting Notes: Very light sweetness with a pear-like texture
Personal Notes: Starfruits are cute and delicious! You wouldn’t know why they are called starfruit as a whole, but once you cut the fruit, you will see where it got its name. I love these little fruits because they’re so light and refreshing. They are a bright green when they are first picked and then turn a vibrant yellow when ripe and ready to eat. Starfruits have a waxy outside skin, crispy meat like a perfectly ripe pear, and have a few black seeds inside. To eat them, you simply lay them down and cut them, take out the seeds, and eat it skin and all. I like to think it’s that easy because they’re meant to eat a lot of
Hawaiian Name: Niu
Tasting Notes: Soft and creamy with a light sweetness; very refreshing treat
Personal Notes: I could eat an entire coconut; the water, the meat, the milk, every part of it is delicious. Coconuts are also extremely versatile for all types of consumption. I try to stay away from dairy, which means my primary form of milk is either coconut or almond. I also do a lot of baking and I use coconut in many forms such as coconut milk that you drink, coconut milk from the can that is more for cooking, shredded coconut, dehydrated coconut, coconut extract, coconut water, coconut oil; you name it, I use it! I must say, there is nothing like a Hawaiian coconut though. The meat is sweeter, the water doesn’t taste like the ones from the can, and it is all together a whole different experience.
Hawaiian Name: Manako
Tasting Notes: Tropical sweet flavor with a soft bite
Personal Notes: Mango in a smoothie, mango in a fruit bowl, mango on a taco, mango in a salsa, mango in a dessert, mango as a dessert. Obviously, I love mangos, but more specifically Hawaiian mangos. Mangos are delicious everywhere, but especially in Hawaii because they have this extra sweetness and their meat has this incredibly fresh taste. There are many varieties of mangos, but I’ve never met a mango I didn’t like so I’m just going to give you one piece of advice: try them all.
Hawaiian Name: Kuawa
Tasting Notes: Refreshingly sweet with a slightly tart flavor
Personal Notes: Guavas are such beautiful fruits when cut open. They have this bright green skin with a florescent pink inside that makes you want to bite right into them. Many people compare their flavor to strawberries, but I’d give it an overall flavor profile of a mix between a strawberry and a pear. Guavas are more popular in their cooked form than eaten raw. You can often find guava drinks, guava syrups or glazes, guava in desserts, or even guava ice cream.
Hawaiian Name: Hua Moa
Tasting Notes: Soft and creamy with a sugar-like sweetness
Personal Notes: Hawaiian plantains are very different than traditional plantains. They are shorter and fatter and can be eaten raw unlike traditional plantains. This makes the Hawaiian ones easier to peel and more versatile, which in my opinion makes them a lot better than the traditional ones. I would describe Hawaiian plantains as a cross between a banana and a traditional plantain.
Hawaiian Name: Lilikoi
Tasting Notes: Sweet and sour, sugary to start with a tangy punch at the finish
Personal Notes: My FAVORITE Hawaiian fruit of all time. There is nothing like snapping open a fresh lilikoi and scooping out the slimy seeds with your fingers until your left with an empty shell of what used to be a passion fruit.