If you’ve ever been to Hawaii, you understand there isn’t anything much fresher than the islands’ fruit.
The fruit in Hawaii is plentiful, nutritious and downright yummy!
When we visit Kauai, Maui or the other Hawaiian islands on a winter vacay, enjoying that tropical Hawaiian fruit for breakfast is worth waking up for!
It’s also nice to pick up some of the same fruits at grocery stores when we’re home.
Eating a juicy mango or pineapple on a cold winter day back in Canada makes us relive (even if only briefly) our sunny Hawaiian holiday.
Fruit in Hawaii
Check out 25 of the most delicious fruits of Hawaii.
You’ll find many exotic fruits – some you might not have tried before!
Say Hawaii. Think pineapple! Hawaiian pineapple must be the most popular of all Hawaiian fruits.
James Dole established the pineapple industry in Hawaii in the early 1900s. He bought the island of Lanai in 1922 and turned it into the biggest pineapple plantation in the world.
By the 1960s, Hawaii was the world’s biggest exporter of pineapples (supplying over 80% of all canned pineapples).
Today, there are no more canneries in Hawaii, but pineapples are still grown on the islands. We always have them for breakfast when visiting Hawaii.
And pineapples are the one fruit from Hawaii that you can take home with you to the U.S. mainland (in your carry-on).
How do you eat pineapple?
Sure, fresh slices of pineapple are great in Hawaii.
But back home, we’re pushovers for pineapple upside-down cake. Warm. With whipped cream.
Recommended reading: Rock these 9+ things to do on Lanai, the pineapple island!
Nothing like bread, this starchy green fruit has the texture of a potato.
Many visitors aren’t fond of this strange fruit.
But it’s an important Hawaiian fruit because of its potential as a food staple to alleviate world hunger. Breadfruit trees are very easy to grow and highly productive, and the breadfruit is high in carbohydrates and a good source of vitamins. (And it contains no fat.)
Interestingly, breadfruit isn’t technically a native Hawaiian fruit, though it’s been growing in Hawaii for so long that you could say it’s indigenous and not really be wrong.
Breadfruit was actually brought to Hawaii by the ancient Polynesians around 300 AD as a “canoe plant.”
The bark and wood of the breadfruit tree is lightweight and perfect for making traditional outrigger canoes (and today, surfboards and drums). The sap also makes an excellent sealant.
How do you eat Hawaiian breadfruit?
Most of the time, people eat breadfruit cooked.
For a sweet treat, you can eat it mashed up with coconut milk or baked in banana leaves. You can also find it in a hummus blend.
With a unique flavor, papaya is another fruit that people either love or hate.
It’s a common Mexican fruit that was introduced to Hawaii just over a century ago; it now grows very well in the Hawaiian islands, mostly on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Pear-shaped, with dark yellow flesh inside, papayas are one of the healthiest fresh fruits to eat – rich in nutrients, low in fat and a good source of fiber.
How do you eat Hawaiian papaya?
Many people prefer to eat papaya after dessert (it contains an enzyme called papain that aids in digestion).
We like to squeeze lime juice on top of it (which improves its taste).
4) Lilikoi (passion fruit)
The passion of passion fruit is its tart juicy taste. The seeds are edible.
And here’s an interesting factoid: Many people swear passion fruit tea makes you drowsy because it contains Harman alkaloids.
How do you eat lilikoi in Hawaii?
This tropical Hawaiian fruit is perfect in a juice, breakfast bowl, as a topping on ice cream or mixed as Hawaiian lilikoi butter.
If you’re used to eating everyday mangos, this exotic fruit in Hawaii is totally different.
There are over 60 different kinds of mangos on the Hawaiian islands. They’re some of the juiciest, sweetest Hawaiian fruits.
How do you eat mango?
It’s perfect to eat mangos in Hawaii just on their own, cut up into pieces.
Mango is great in salads and desserts too. And mango slices are also amazing on top of chicken.
And who doesn’t love mango margaritas!
Yes, let’s whip up some margaritas! See these 15 delicious Mexican margarita recipes
Brought over from southeast China in 1873, lychee looks scary with its thorny outside.
But it’s an awesome Hawaiian fruit because of its big boost of vitamins, especially Vitamin C and Vitamin B-complex.
You find lychee fruit in Hawaii from May to August.
How do you eat lychee?
Lychees are lovely to eat fresh and raw. You can pop the skin easily to get to the sweet fruit inside.
If you don’t feel like peeling and eating them, make lychee green tea or lychee jelly.
Never judge a book by its cover. The longan has a rough brown exterior that doesn’t look as pretty as other fruits. But it’s a great fruit to eat!
The chewy interior tastes slightly sweet with a twist of tart.
They call it the “dragon’s eye” in Chinese because a longan looks like a big eye staring at you.
How do you eat longan?
This juicy sweet fruit tastes fresh by itself – crack the outer brown skin to get at the flesh. Bonus: Longans aren’t messy to eat.
You can also put longans in sorbets, desserts or salads. And if a recipe calls for lychee (#6 above), longan is the perfect substitute (it’s just a little more tart).
8) Egg fruit
No, the Hawaiian fruit called egg fruit (or canistel) isn’t an egg disguised as fruit.
Okay, it does have a texture like a hard-boiled egg yolk. And it’s a bright yellow-orange in color.
But it also has a dry sweet interior that tastes like a sweet potato or perhaps chestnuts.
How do you eat egg fruit?
Most people love to use egg fruit in juices and milkshakes. Try egg fruit in eggnog!
Some people put egg fruit in yogurts, custards and ice creams.
If you like the taste of blue cheese, you might like noni.
But to tell the truth, not many people enjoy the taste of this tart fruit. It has a fishy aftertaste.
The reason you’d eat this fruit is because of the potential health benefits of noni – said to include pain relief and arthritis improvement.
How do you eat Hawaiian noni?
Noni is best mixed in a juice blend. It’s also good to crunch the fruit up in salads.
Soursop is a pretty strange name for a native Hawaiian fruit, but don’t let its name fool you.
It tastes like a fruit explosion of apples, kiwis, and strawberries. Besides the flavor, you get a big punch of antioxidants too.
How do you eat soursop?
You can peel it like a banana and eat it like string cheese.
If you want to mix it with other ingredients, add it to ice cream or fruit juice.
11) Apple banana
How did a “normal” fruit make our list of Hawaiian fruit? Because the bananas in Hawaii are anything but normal.
In fact, several different types of bananas are grown in Hawaii.
The most common – and a local favorite – is the apple banana. With a red and pink peel, these short and squat Hawaiian bananas have an extra pop of flavor.
You won’t think of bananas as “ordinary” any more after biting into apple bananas!
How do you eat apple bananas?
You probably already know how you like to eat your bananas. Most people just peel them open and eat them right away.
But they also taste great blended in smoothies and sliced on top of ice cream or in a fruit salad.
Sapote doesn’t really fit in as a popular fruit from Hawaii in the same way as the citrus fruits do.
Full of strong antioxidants, its texture is like that of an avocado.
As for its flavor, white sapote tastes like a sweet potato custard with vanilla, while black sapote tastes like chocolate pudding.
You find sapote fruit in Hawaii in the spring time.
How do you eat sapote?
You can eat this yummy fruit raw. You can also turn sapote into creamy concoctions like smoothies, milkshakes, mousse or ice cream.
Don’t knock the coconut since it’s technically a nut. But coconut meat is also considered a fruit (and a seed). And you can do so much with coconut!
How do you eat Hawaiian coconut?
Drink the coconut water straight out of the nut, eat the meat fresh or squeeze it to make milk.
We love any dessert made with coconut – coconut is the main ingredient in the popular Haupia dessert, served at Hawaiian luaus.
Coconut water is such a refreshing drink! It’s the perfect thirst-quencher when having fun doing these Hawaii water activities
Rambutan is another exotic Hawaiian fruit that’s also native to Hawaii.
Similar to lychee (#6), these red fruits are colorful and hairy, and they’re packed full of Vitamin C, iron and potassium. But while lychees are really sweet, rambutans are more tart – a mix of sweet and sour, a little like a cross between a grape and an apple.
Don’t miss out on eating rambutans in Hawaii. They’re hard to transport and store, so you’re not likely to find them in your local Canadian or U.S. grocery store.
How do you eat rambutan?
Rambutans are great to eat raw. You just slice open the skin and eat the white flesh from the large seeds.
Rambutans are also great in smoothies and salads.
You’ll probably hate the smell of durian. This fruit is a stinker! Think rotten onions?
But once you get over the smell, you’ll be intrigued by the creamy custard-like middle – and may even love it.
It’s not nick-named the “king of fruits” for no reason!
How do you eat durian fruit?
First, you have to chop through those spikes on the outside.
Once you do, be prepared for a new taste sensation.
Durian has great vanilla-like undertones. Or maybe notes of almond? No, wait, it tastes like butterscotch. The taste of durian is quite unique and hard to describe.
It pairs well, though, with Laotian sticky rice, a dessert made with coconut milk. You can also make durian ice-cream or cheesecake.
16) Poha berries
Poha berries are Hawaiian fruits with a waxy skin. These golden berries are often confused with tomatoes. But tomatoes they’re not.
They have a tart taste and are highly concentrated with nutrients.
How do you eat poha berries?
Many people love to eat poha berries in jam, preserves or in baked goods. You can also put them in a salad with sea scallops. Mmmm!
Don’t be intimidated by the large size of the jackfruit. It can weigh over five pounds (but often comes bigger than the size of a football) and has a spiky green skin.
A relative of figs and breadfruit, the fruit tastes like sweet lychee and pineapple mixed together when ripe.
How do you eat jackfruit?
You can eat jackfruit like most other fruits by just eating the middle. Cut the seeds out with a knife.
When young and unripe, jackfruit has the consistency of chicken or pork, and it’s becoming more popular as a meat replacement in curry and vegetarian dishes.
The seeds of jackfruit are high in protein, so some people also like to boil them up (for 20 to 30 minutes) and eat them as a snack or throw them in salads.
18) Mountain apples
Mountain apples are different than your everyday teacher’s apple.
They have the shape of a bell (and look somewhat like small red peppers), with a shiny waxy red skin. And they have a light sweet taste, with the fragrance of roses.
Like breadfruit (#2), mountain apples were brought to Hawaii centuries ago by the Polynesians as a “canoe plant” – the trunk of the mountain apple tree was used to build beams for their houses.
How do you eat mountain apples?
You can bite into a mountain apple, just as you’d bite into an ordinary apple.
Mountain apples can also be turned into delicious applesauce – mix them up with ginger and cinnamon.
If you’re used to the usual Hass avocado at the local grocery store, you’re in for a surprise.
Expect to find Hawaiian avocados to be four times the size of your Hass ones. Many people have avocados growing wild right in their backyard in Hawaii.
How do you eat avocado?
These fellas are so yummy you can throw them in anything from a salad to a sandwich. (We adore sliced avocado in our salads.)
And because they’re so creamy inside, you can use mashed avocado as a substitute for mayonnaise.
Revered in Japan, persimmons are another fruit from Asia that you find in Hawaii. They’re mostly grown in Maui.
Their texture is silky and crunchy at the same time, and they have a very unique taste – a little like honey and a cross between mangos and sweet peppers.
How do you eat persimmons?
Just peel and cut them to eat. You can use a peeler or knife to remove the skin, and then slice them in quarters or smaller pieces (like you would an apple).
Peeled and diced persimmons are also a great addition in a salad, adding extra crunch and sweetness.
21) Strawberry guava
Most locals call strawberry guava “waiawi.”
It’s just like regular guava, but red-skinned. And the taste resembles a strawberry for its sweetness.
How do you eat strawberry guava?
You can eat the tangy fruit raw.
Or try putting strawberry guavas in smoothies and on top of salads, or mixing them with chicken.
22) Loquat (biwa)
Loquat has been around for a few centuries – it’s thought Chinese immigrants brought this fruit to Hawaii.
The tiny, yellow oval-shaped fruit delivers a mouth burst of tart flavor.
Some people think there are many health benefits to loquats and believe loquats make the perfect syrup to cure all sorts of ailments.
How do you eat loquats in Hawaii?
You can eat these by just peeling off the skin, then biting into the fruit, eating around the seeds.
Or slice them in half, take out the seeds and use them in curries, salads, chicken dishes, chutneys, rice pudding and other dishes (see these loquat recipes).
You’re not reading it wrong. Mangosteen is different than a mango.
Mangosteens have a thick purple skin on the outside and look almost like an orange on the inside, with juicy sections. The fruit tastes like a combination of mango, peach and lychee.
How do you eat mangosteen?
You can eat this fruit from Hawaii by itself, in a salad or mixed with vegetables.
24) Star fruit (carambola)
The coolest thing about this exotic fruit in Hawaii is that it makes little stars when you cut into it. This makes starfruit perfect for decorating salads or using as a garnish.
As for the flavor, the seductively sweet-and-tart starfruit tastes like grapes with citrus.
How do you eat starfruit?
Many people eat starfruit like candy. Or mix it with your stir fry, or drink it as a juice.
You sometimes find starfruit on the breakfast buffet in Hawaiian hotels: If holidaying in Kauai, see the 9 best Kauai hotels and resorts that we’ve sussed out!
25) Surinam cherries (pitanga)
Sometimes called “pumpkin cherries,” Surinam cherries look like small, shiny red pumpkins.
One of the more exotic Hawaiian fruits, they thrive in Hawaii, and many Hawaiians have Surinam cherry trees growing in their back yards.
Creative chefs are also starting to use these cherries in their dishes in Hawaiian restaurants.
How do you eat Surinam cherries?
You can eat them raw – they taste like cherries. They’re best when slightly soft and dark red in color. (When orangey in color, they’re more sour.)
They can also be used to make sauces, jams and jellies. And you can toss them in salads for a hint of sweetness.
So, what do you think of this list of tropical Hawaii fruits?
We’ve covered some of the yummiest, most unique fruits of Hawaii that you must try for yourself. You really can’t leave Hawaii without tasting at least some of these!
And when you get home, see which of your favorite Hawaiian fruits are stocked in your local grocery store.
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