Sun, sand, and surf are not all Hawaii is known for. Sure, we travel to islands for a restful  time that will incorporate all these things, but you gotta eat too, right?

Hawaii certainly doesn’t let us down on that issue.

When we dive a little deeper, we find that the food in Hawaii is not just about filling a hungry void but experiencing a little bit of history and cultural significance in every bite.

What we find is a fusion of different cultures. Japanese, Portuguese, Chinese, and traditional Hawaiian dishes have all come together over the years to become a range of delectable delights all more than happy to share the spotlight.

So, what are some of the foods we are likely to see?

Here are some of the dishes Hawaii is known for.

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1. Poke Bowl

When satisfying your appetite and wanting something light and refreshing is on your mind you need to Poke. This is possibly Hawaii’s favorite dish.

Consisting of raw fish, and the freshest of vegetables and seasoning, this dish has become the go-to for many locals and tourists alike.

The reason behind its popularity? It’s delicious.

The seafood is definitely the hero of the Poke. This is Hawaii in a bowl.

2. Kalua Pork

If you’ve ever been to a luau when visiting any of the Hawaiian Islands you would have likely experienced this dish. A must-have for the traditional dance and cultural activity Kalua pork is tender, smoky, and mouth-watering.

Often combined with cabbage, rice, or macaroni salad this whole roasted pig, cooked for hours in a customary Hawaiian method will remain in your memory for a long time.

3. Hawaiian Plate

The Hawaiian plate, typically eaten for lunch, is a dish consisting of protein, white rice, and a portion of pasta, usually a mayonnaise-based macaroni.

Carbohydrate heaven, this meal is filling whether chicken or meat as your chosen protein and will sustain you for the rest of the day.

Found all over the Hawaiian Islands, at both roadside food trucks, sit-down restaurants, or via drive-through vendors, The Hawaiian Plate is a must-try.

Your stomach will thank you, so will your energy levels.

4. Shave Ice

More familiarly known as a snow cone, shave ice has the same basic construction of crushed ice with syrup atop. This version has a difference.

It’s the flavors of Hawaii’s version that will get you.

The ice absorbs the flavors chosen without just having the ice float around.

What are the flavors? Try passionfruit, pineapple, or even guava. Ice cream is more your thing, you can have both to make your own shave ice perfect mix.

5. Loco Moco

Sometimes it’s the simple foods that are often the best. Made everywhere around the islands, Loco Moco epitomizes a simplistic and delicious meal.

Although people may find different variations of the dish, traditionally Loco Moco consists of white rice as a base, hamburger on the top covered with brown gravy (like that of  Hamburg steak. The dish is then topped with a fried egg.

For those not wanting that type of meat, there is usually the option to replace it with shrimp, Spam, or sausage.

While the meal itself is a large serving and quite filling, it is known to be served with noodles, and macaroni salad.

6. Saimin

It has been described as similar to  a ramen dish but lighter, almost like the Japanese Miso soup.

Noodle dishes are some of the most popular in Hawaii with the variety on offer and the presentation of such meals the main reason.

Anything goes with a noodle dish.

In Saimin you will find the softest of wheat noodles, with the traditional add-ins of raw fish, and fresh green vegetables. The broth will be flavorsome, like those of other ramen-style dishes.

Of course, the choice will be yours if you can mix and match types of fresh seafood, protein, and all types of vegetables, and shredded seaweed.

Saimin is as hearty as it is fresh.

Give it a try. You will be back for more.

7. Laulau

Made from the leaves of the Taro plant, Laulau is a favorite of many locals and visitors looking for a nourishing meal with a bit of history thrown in.

This native Hawaiian food traditionally consists of pork meat wrapped in taro leaves cooked underground in a rock oven for hours until tender and smoky. The pork is juicy and the taro leaves, acting as the protector, become almost like spinach in texture.

Modern-day variations of  Laulau include fish or chicken instead of pork.

8. Malasada

No Hawaiian food list can feel right without the addition of a dessert.

Traditionally this dessert is one of Portuguese origin and was introduced to Hawaiians in the 19th century.

It is now considered one of Hawaii’s own.

Also referred to as the Portuguese donut and is similar in recipe and texture. While the traditional version is not filled, the Hawaiian method has taken the treats to another level, filling the donuts with Guava, chocolate, Haupia or smooth custard.

If the plain version is more your style you will find it just as delicious, with the perfect tender yeast dough fried to perfection and rolled in cinnamon and a touch of lemon juice.

Try it on your next visit to Hawaii.

9. Hawaiian Fruit

Phew, now it’s time to refresh the palate with fruit.

Pineapples would be the first thing that springs to mind, but they are not native Hawaiian fruit.

Still delicious though.

Different times of the year will have you noticing the variations of Hawaiian fruit. Fall will bring jackfruit and passionfruit. Winter will see mangosteen and rambutans, and Spring will delight everyone with the citrus fruits, and lychees. It is that Spring combination of sweet and sour that everyone has come to adore.

All-year-round pineapples, apples, and of course, coconuts will be on most tables.

Fruit is plentiful, and it is fresh, so make sure there’s some room left for this refreshing, and healthy delight.

Long May We Eat

How are Hawaiians keeping traditional foods alive? Simply by keeping the customary methods of preparing, cooking, and eating as part of the Hawaiian experience.

The diversity in the history of what we now know as Hawaiian food is clear. Different people brought their own culture and food preparation to these islands.

From luaus to farmer's markets and local food trucks, everyone can help keep Hawaii’s food traditions at the top of the most-wanted list.

The islands of Hawaii offer some of the most delicious traditional food anywhere in the world.

You visit for a relaxed lifestyle, but you’ll stay for the food.


When you’re ready to experience all of Hawaii’s traditional and modern foods, we are here to show you the way.

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