Destination Travel Guides

Essential Things to Eat in Hawaii

If you’re planning on going to Hawaii any time soon, I’m jealous! You’re about to have an amazing time in one of my favorite places. You’re also in for a treat, quite literally, because Hawaii has some delicious food! Make sure you don’t leave the islands until you’ve feasted upon these awesome dishes:

Shrimp Trucks


It’s been two years since I was last on the islands and I’m still thinking about the lunch I had from the shrimp truck on the North shore of Oahu one afternoon.

Great places to try it: These are an institution on the North shore of Oahu. Try Romy’s Kahuku Prawns & Shrimp or Giovanni’s Original White Shrimp Truck.

Shave Ice


Shave Ice is synonymous with Hawaii. It’s a delicious combination of shredded ice and a sugary syrup.

Great places to try itMatsumoto Shave Ice or Aoki’s Shave Ice on Oahu.  Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice on Maui or Original Big Island Shave Ice on the Big Island are also great choices.

Plate Lunch


Loco Moco Plate Lunch

This is one of Hawaii’s claims to fame. The plate lunch is, I should warn you, not a healthy meal. Then again, you didn’t go on vacation to diet, did you? Think of two scrumptious scoops of white rice, a scoop of creamy macaroni salad, and the main entree of your choice. Popular choices include teriyaki chicken or beef, kalua pork, laulau, chicken katsu, loco moco, or lomi lomi salmon. If you don’t know what any of those dishes are, I’ve linked them to more information in case you’re curious. 🙂

Plate lunches are typically a LOT of food, so try it after a long hike on an epic Hawaiian trail when you’ve worked up a nice appetite.

Great places to try itAloha Mixed Plate on Maui, Rainbow Drive-In on O’ahu, Pono Market or Mark’s Place on Kauai, and Big Island Grill on the Big Island.



The pineapple in Hawaii is special. If you live on the U.S. mainland like I do, or somewhere else that is decidedly un-tropical, you’re in for a surprise the first time you sink your teeth into a slice of fresh pineapple in Hawaii. It is so sweet and so flavorful that it’s like a party in your mouth. I’m serious! On my first trip to Kauai, I discovered the sweet, sweet joy that is pineapple in Hawaii and spent the entire two week period I was there stuffing my face with as much pineapple as I could possibly get my hands on. It’s that good. No need to do anything fancy, though. Just head to a nearby grocery store and pick one out. The best way to tell if it’s going to be a good one is the color and the smell. Look for pineapple with a yellow coloring to the skin. When you pick it up and smell the bottom, it should smell sweet. Take it back to your hotel or vacation rental, cut it up, and enjoy!

Great places to try it: Anywhere! Just look for a good pineapple 🙂

Fresh, Local Fish


Seared Ahi

This is a must. Seeing as though Hawaii is an island chain in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, it makes sense that the local caught fish is amazingly fresh. I like going out for sushi when I’m on the islands and asking the chef which varieties are locally caught.

A lot of seafood restaurants around the islands also make wonderful dishes with fresh, locally caught fish if sushi isn’t your thing. I always try to sample at least a few different dishes made with locally caught fish when I’m on the islands, and it never disappoints.

Great places to try it: Alan Wong’s on Oahu, Kimo’s on Maui, Keei Cafe on the Big Island, and the Hanalei Dolphin Restaurant and Fish Market on Kauai.



More on that fresh, local fish: don’t leave without trying the poke! This is a Hawaiian specialty that was inspired by Japanese sushi, but with a Hawaiian flair. They make different kinds of poke, and it can be found just about anywhere, from higher end restaurants to little food stands around town, even at the local grocery store.

Great places to try itDa Poke Shack on the Big Island, Tamashiro in Honolulu or Eskimo Candy on Maui.

Spam Musubi


Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. Hawaiians love Spam and do some really interesting things with it. Try the Spam musubi- it’s a sort of sushi-like creation where Spam is used in place of fish. It’s surprisingly delicious. Seriously, try it. Half the fun of travel is trying new foods, right?

Great places to try it: Any convenience store, ABC Store, or grocery store on the island.



Saimin is a noodle dish that was developed by different migrant groups from Asian countries such as China, Japan, Korea, and the Philippines during Hawaii’s plantation era. It is also incredibly delicious and filling. It is similar to Japanese Soba, but with different toppings, this is a must-try when you’re on the islands and want to tuck into something warm and delicious.

Great places to try itPalace Saimin on Oahu, Zippy’s (24 locations in Hawaii), or Monkeypod Kitchen (locations on Maui and Oahu)


Have you been to Hawaii? What did you eat that absolutely blew your mind? Do you think I left anything important off the list? I would love to hear your suggestions in the comments!


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