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The best Hawaiian fruit to try
If you’re planning a Hawaii vacation and want to try some local fruit, I have the ultimate guide to Hawaiian fruit right here.
Hawaii regularly ranks as the happiest state, and maybe it’s partially due to the abundance of healthy and delicious exotic fruit!
Combined with the ocean, lots of outdoor activities, and sunshine year-round, it’s no wonder that Hawaii residents are also some of the healthiest in the U.S.
Let’s get to the best Hawaiian fruit.
Hawaii fruit facts
- Although some Hawaiian fruits are seasonal, you’ll find staples such as papaya, coconut, bananas, and pineapples year-round.
- Pineapples are arguably the most famous Hawaiian fruit; they are not native to Hawaii. I have an entire blog post dedicated to Hawaii pineapples (seriously) so check it out!
- Pineapples are called “hala kahiki” in Hawaiian. Kahiki means foreign, and hala is a native Hawaiian fruit.
Roadside stands are one of the best places to buy Hawaiian fruit.
Seasonal guide for Hawaiian fruit
- Guava: August – April
- Lilikoi (passionfruit): June – January
- Mango: July – October
- Lychee: May – September (peak season)
- Breadfruit (‘ulu): July – October but can extend into February
- Banana: year-round
- Papaya: year-round
- Starfruit: September – April
- Coconut: year-round
- Rambutan: October – March
- Pineapple: year-round
Remember that these growing seasons are averages. Some Hawaiian fruits grow year-round with multiple growing seasons.
The best way to find out which Hawaiian fruit is in season is to ask the farmers at the farmer’s markets!
I have a recent blog post with 20 things to do in Hilo. Hilo has 5 farmer’s markets where you can find many of the Hawaiian fruits on this list.
Every time I smell guava, I think back to hiking the Awa’awapuhi trail in Kauai. They were everywhere. To be honest, most of them were bad and rotting on the ground, but some of them smelled good. 😂
I have a blog post about the best hikes in Kauai where I talk about the Awa’awapuhi trail if you’re interested in learning more.
I also have a little video of the awa’awapuhi trail if you want to check it out on YouTube.
Similar to avocados, guavas have a very short time between being ripe and being bad. If guava smells fermented, it’s too far gone.
The main type of guava in Hawaii is one you’ve likely seen in grocery stores. Another type is the strawberry guava, which is much smaller and is red inside with hints of strawberry.
In Hawaii, passionfruit is known as lilikoi. If it’s in season while you’re in Hawaii, you have to try it.
This fruit is tart and sweet, and yes, the seeds are edible. You’ll also find lilikoi incorporated into desserts and drinks in Hawaii.
One of the most popular Hawaiian fruits is the mango. Some even call Maui “mango island.”
You’ll find mangos at the farmer’s market, roadside stands, grocery stores, and just about everywhere else when they’re in season.
Mango is a local favorite in Hawaii, with several events and festivals celebrating the cherished fruit. There is even a mango festival on the Big Island every summer! I definitely need to add that to the list of the best things to do in Kona.
There are over 50 varieties of mangos in Hawaii, but the Riposa, Hayden, and Pirie are the most common. Make sure to get your mangos from a roadside stand or farmer’s market to ensure that they’re local and ready to eat.
There are several ways to cut and pit a mango. You can cut the mango in half going around the core/pit and then slice the fruit in a criss-cross pattern, but I prefer using a mango slicer.
One more note, you will probably buy mangos that have been cleaned quite well, but mango sap is similar to poison ivy, so make sure to check. You also want to avoid eating the skin of a mango.
If you’ve never had lychee before, you’re in for a treat. It’s kind of like a large grape, but thicker.
Make sure to remove the skin, and also beware that there is a pit inside. The lychee is both sweet and tart and pairs well with other tropical fruit. Head to the farmer’s market and then enjoy a big bowl of fruit for breakfast.
Breadfruit, a species of flowering tree in the mulberry and jackfruit family, is called ‘ulu in Hawaii. This fruit is not the first thing you’d think of when you think of Hawaiian fruit. In fact, it’s not “fruity” at all.
This staple in Hawaii is starchier and used as more of a potato substitute than a snacking fruit. Even though it’s not as fun as rambutan or lilikoi, it’s must-try Hawaiian fruit.
Breadfruit is probably different from anything you’ve tried at home, so make sure to check it out while you’re in Hawaii.
Most of us eat bananas but did you know that there are over 1000 varieties of bananas? Chances are you’ve only tried one!
Fun fact: the bananas that we eat in the US are called Cavendish or Williams Bananas. Now you know.
Hawaii is home to several varieties of bananas, with the most famous being apple bananas. The apple banana is smaller than “regular” bananas with hints of apple and strawberry flavors.
The apple banana also has higher levels of vitamin C and vitamin A than the Cavendish banana.
Most of the banana bread you’ll find on the Road to Hana is made with apple bananas. If the only way that you try bananas in Hawaii is banana bread, that’s fine too!
If you live in a colder climate, you’ve probably never had fresh papaya. Hawaiian papayas are so flavorful and nothing like what you’ll find in the grocery store back home.
A squeeze of fresh lime will take your papayas to the next level, so make sure to pick some of those up at the farmer’s market while you’re there.
Papaya is so easy to eat, simply slice in half, remove the seeds, and enjoy with a spoon! The seeds can be edible but are typically saved for later and used in savory foods instead.
Related: You might want to check out where to find the best vegan food in Hawaii.
The first time I ever tried starfruit was in Puerto Rico, but they also grow in Hawaii from September-April.
The entire fruit is edible and can be eaten whole, juiced, or dried. I personally prefer to edges of the starfruit. The starfruit has an apple-like texture and is mildly sweet and a little bit sour.
This seems random, but I’ve been able to snag starfruit in my Misfits Market box several times lately. I can never find this exotic fruit at home, so it’s been pretty exciting to get it in my bi-weekly produce box several times!
Misfits Market offers organic fruit at low prices straight to your front door and prevents food waste. You can save 50% off your first box using my link. I am always asked this question, and yes, you get to pick what is in your box.
Before you get mad at me for listing a nut on the list of Hawaiian fruit, don’t. Despite the name, coconut is not actually a nut!
It is considered a fruit, and the coconut palm produces all year long. The coconut is harvested at various stages due to the many uses of coconut (coconut milk, coconut water, coconut oil, etc.)
Have you ever wondered why you don’t see many coconut palms around resorts or popular tourist areas? Well, falling coconuts are actually quite dangerous, so it is someone’s job to ensure that no one gets smacked in the head by a coconut.
I’ve heard, although I don’t know if it’s true, that you’re more likely to be killed by a coconut than a shark in Hawaii. Shark attacks in Hawaii are rare, so it very well might be true!
If you do happen to see coconuts on a coconut palm, well, don’t stand underneath it. 😉
If you want to learn more about sharks and other Hawaiian animals, make sure to check out the ultimate guide to Hawaiian animals.
This exotic Hawaiian fruit looks kind of like a sea urchin, but don’t worry; it isn’t. 😉 I’ve seen rambutans in grocery stores on the mainland, but they always look sad and past their prime.
Fortunately, you can get fresh Rambutan in Hawaii during the winter. The inside and the taste is similar to a lychee, but the rambutan is more tart. I prefer rambutan to lychee, but you’ll have to try both to decide for yourself.
Don’t worry; I wasn’t going to create a Hawaiian fruit list to try without mentioning the pineapple.
I do have a blog post about the best pineapple farms to visit in Hawaii. That post also goes into the history of pineapples in Hawaii if you’d like to learn more.
Even if you don’t go on a farm tour, you have to try pineapples while you’re in Hawaii. You can even ship a pineapple home or to a friend.
Here are some of the pineapple farm tours in Hawaii:
Kauai Sugarloaf Pineapple in Kauai.
Maui Pineapple Tours in Maui.
The Dole Plantation on Oahu.
Although berries don’t grow as well as some of the other Hawaiian fruit on this list, there is one notable exception. If you’re visiting Maui, you have to try kula strawberries. During certain times of the year, you can even pick your own at Kula Country Farms.
Plan a Hawaii vacation
I assume you’re here learning about Hawaiian fruits because you’re planning a Hawaii vacation. If so, yay! You’re going to love it no matter which island you choose to visit. Here are some of my best tips for Hawaii, along with frequently asked Hawaii questions:
- How much does it cost to go to Hawaii?
- What is the best island to visit in Hawaii?
- Is there a bad time to go to Hawaii?
- 100 things to do in Hawaii.
- Is Hawaii safe?
- 10 things to know before going to Hawaii.
- 20 things you should never do in Hawaii.
- The Ultimate Hawaii packing list.
No matter which island you plan to visit, I have plenty of helpful tips to make your Hawaii vacation epic. To get started, here are some Hawaii itineraries:
- 4-day Big Island Itinerary
- 4-day Kauai Itinerary
- 7-day Maui Itinerary
- 7-day Big Island Itinerary
- 4-day Maui Itinerary
- 7-day Kauai Itinerary
The best Hawaiian Fruit
I hope that you enjoyed this post about the best Hawaiian fruit to try. Did I miss any of your favorites? Thanks to the tropical climate, there are lots of fruits that grow in Hawaii, so I only included some of the most popular
If I missed any of your favorites, make sure to let me know in the comments.
Although I am a Hawaii Travel Agent, I am only taking on a few clients for 2021. You can contact me if you’d like more information. I would recommend starting with my Hawaii travel guide if you plan to DIY your vacation!
The best way to get Hawaii travel tips and the most current travel information is to sign up for my email list. I send out one weekly email on Friday with the latest news, travel deals, and more. Sign up below.
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