A trip to Hawaii means a lot of sunshine and beach time, but it’s also a chance to sample lots of exotic Hawaiian fruit! With so many different Hawaii fruits on offer, you’ll have a hard time deciding, but be sure to try at least a few that are new to you.
Heading to the islands? Be sure to read about these surprising places to eat local food in Hawaii!
When and How to Enjoy Fresh Hawaii Fruits
It’s easy to think that no matter when you visit Hawaii you’ll have your choice of fresh Hawaii fruits. In fact, much of the state’s produce has some very well-defined seasons.
We’re not talking regular bananas here. Of course, they are available as well, but once you’ve had a chance to try the popular apple banana, you’ll know why locals prefer the shorter, stubbier variety of this recognizable fruit. They have a slight tang and a creamier texture than the Cavendish bananas commonly available on the continent. Apple bananas grown in Hawaii are often available at local grocery stores.
Another banana variety to try while you’re enjoying a bit of Hawaii travel is the ice cream banana. Fat and sweet, it’s a rarity but sometimes available at farmers markets.
This starchy crop doesn’t exactly scream “tropical fruit.” It’s an interesting thing to try while you’re visiting, though. If you’re lucky enough to pick up a breadfruit, aka ‘ulu, at the farmers market, you’ll need to know how to cook breadfruit. It’s more of a savory option for use in recipes, rather than something you’d eat out of hand. Keep your eye open at farmers markets or local stores for ‘ulu chips.
So. Much. Citrus! From oranges and tangerines to harder-to-find tangelos, you’ll find sweet citrus fresh and ready to eat between December and February. Lemons and limes are ripe during this time frame as well, but less readily available. Everyone in Hawaii seems to have a tree, so they aren’t a hot ticket items for locals. The lemons and limes available in grocery stores are often imported.
Not really one of the Hawaii fruits you’d eat out of hand, it’s always fun to watch someone chop away the husk with a machete to reveal the center of the coconut and the delicious coconut water inside. This is a farmers market or roadside stand item that’s available year round.
🐉 Dragon Fruit
Perhaps the most eye-popping of fruit available in the islands, I’m going to warn you: it’s often the most disappointing. The deep magenta color of these fruit (it also comes in white) sure looks like it ought to be the most flavorful fruit you’ve ever tried. Mostly? It’s just meh and probably not worth the expense.
This one is admittedly weird. The fruits themselves are a beautiful deep yellow with smooth skin. Inside, the flesh is the texture of a hard boiled egg yolk, and somewhat dry. It’s a summertime crop with limited distribution.
So many tropical fruits grown in Hawaii never make it to market. This is one of them. Guava is an invasive that has spread rampantly in many parts of the state. There are yellow guavas with pink or white flesh that grow 2″-3″ in diameter. There are strawberry guava — aka waiawi — that have dark skin and white flesh. And there’s is a “yellow strawberry guava,” a fruit that is similar to the red version, but somewhat tastier in its yellow skin. These both grow to about an inch across. You may run across these Hawaiian fruits on roadsides or on hiking trails.
These small round fruits grow in clusters and have a thin, hard shell protecting the soft white flesh inside. They’re not terribly appealing visually — they’re brown. But inside is a small little burst of flavor that some think have the taste of cantaloupe. Look for these from local growers at fruits stands; you won’t likely find them in the produce section.
These are known as “eyeball fruit” in our household. That will give you the idea of the texture hidden under the hard pink skin. While the texture is off-putting for some, they are an absolute favorite of mine. They’re simply luscious and full of juicy flavor. They’re ripe in June and July. Your best bet? Find a truck alongside the road selling the freshly harvested fruit.
This is a summertime fruit in the Hawaiian Islands! If you see mangos at the supermarket or Costco, check the place of origin. They are one of the commonly imported exotic fruits that visitors expect to find year round. Supermarkets are happy to oblige. If you prefer to shop in season, skip the imports!
🗻🍎 Mountain Apples
First let’s be clear: These are nothing like apples. The fruit is fragile, with a soft and watery flesh that has a bit of crunch. It’s not incredibly flavorful, really. This bright red fruit is a rarity on the market anywhere.
This is one fruit that’s pretty readily available year round from local farms. There are numerous varieties to try. Solo has light orange flesh that’s somewhat tangy; Strawberry has pink flesh and is sweeter. Be sure to pick up a fresh lime while you’re at it, and squeeze lime juice into the cavity after you’ve removed the seeds. The fruit available at grocery stores is usually produced locally; you’ll likely find them at a better price at the farmers market.
❤️🔥 Passion Fruit
Known locally as liliko’i, this sweet, tart crop provides a tropical Hawaiian fruit flavor that evokes paradise. The fruit has a thick, hard outer shell and a soft, seedy center. This is a summertime fruit that is seldom available in grocery stores. Look for it at the local farmers market. The outer shell can be yellow or purple, each having a slightly different flavor. (Passion fruit is the “P” in POG juice, which you can make at home!)
The Hawaii pineapple fields of yore are long gone. The island of Lanai is known as “Pineapple Island” once produced 75% of the world’s pineapples. Not so today. These days, small growers offer fresh pineapple at farmers markets, but the grocery store pineapples are more often than not imported.
If you’re in Hawaii during the early summer months, seek out the extra sweet and flavorful white-fleshed Sugarloaf pineapple. Less acidic than its yellow counterpart, it’s a delicious treat available nowhere else in the world.
Try this delicious grilled pineapple recipe for a sweet side dish or dessert.
Similar in texture to the lychee and longon, rambutan looks like it’s ready to party. It’s spiky red exterior protects the firm white flesh at its center. This strange looking fruit is available in winter and late spring at local farmers markets.
Have you ever tried a fruit that tastes like lemon yogurt? That’s exactly what you’ll get with rollinia — if you’re lucky enough to find one! These lumpy fruits begin oxidizing as soon as they’re harvested, the yellow skin turning a splotchy black. These are definitely a pick and eat right away fruit!
It may not sound appealing, but this is one of the most delicious tropical fruits! Its texture is oddly creamy and slightly stringy, with large seeds throughout. The flavor is reminiscent of green apple candy! It’s a summertime fruit that you’ll find at farmers markets if lucky.
⭐ Star Fruit
These funny looking fruit are very fragile, bruising and browning easily. This makes them difficult to ship, so it’s rare to find them far from the farm. Locals will simply eat them out of hand like an apple, but it’s more fun to slice them to reveal their beautiful star shape. Look for these in the summer or fall.