Plant a garden in Hawaii

Plant a garden in Hawaii

Plant a garden in Hawaii

If you love tropical fruits and veggies, it’s so easy to plant a garden in Hawaii, get back to the earth and reap the benefits of growing a garden here. There’s so much joy in reconnecting with the land, no matter how small – it can even be a group of small pots with fresh herbs, tomatoes and easy to grow vegetables. Learning how to plant a garden in Hawaii is fun outdoors, getting your hands into the soil and so good for your mind, body and soul.

It’s surprising how fast it is to start a kitchen garden and learning to growing your own fruits and vegetables here in Hawaii. A good part of the process is inspiration, knowing what you want to grow and the learning process. Now is a great time to start and here are some of the tools you need below to get going quickly in growing your own fruits and veggies.

Plant a kitchen garden in Hawaii

If the thought of being able to start growing your own garden sounds too intimidating, it really isn’t and you can always start small at first and control the entire process on your own time. You’ll definitely love the sense of accomplishment and seeing something growing from your efforts and yes love. Amazing to think that you can actually grow your own and have food ingredients fresh from your own yard to make some delicious and local.

Growing veggies in Hawaii

As inspiration, check out some of the wonderful and simple gardening websites or even You Tube videos of getting a garden started with easy fruit trees that grow well on the islands or even fast growing vegetables that you can harvest quickly here in Hawaii. Here’s some considerations and thought on getting that garden kick started below.

Decide how much area to plant and maintain

There’s a lot of work in prepping an area and making the soil workable and rich along with doing daily maintenance of a garden.  Decide how much area you can really dedicate to take care of including weeding, fertilizing, watering, pest control on a regular basis.

Growing fruits and veggies in Hawaii

Growing with limited space

Check out what you can grow well in pots or a small space that doesn’t take too much space and effort for you to manage. These include herbs, garlic or onions, bak choy, lettuce and radishes that can do well in smaller spaces. If you grow vertically, you can also grow tomatoes, beans, cucumbers or pumpkins if you create trellised support for them to grow tall.

Tips to starting a garden in Hawaii

Tips to starting a garden in Hawaii

Pick the right plants to grow in Hawaii

Pick the right plants that will work for your location

Even though Hawaii is perfect for growing a kitchen garden doesn’t mean all veggies or fruits will grow here. Depending on elevation,  soil condition and tropical climates, you need plants that will grow well in these outside tropical environments. Learning to plant a garden in Hawaii starts with vegetable plants that does well including taro, eggplants, okra, beans, tropical peppers and herbs will do well – check out these hardy and successful plants from UH Hawaii’s best growing plants for a kitchen garden. For fruit trees or plants, check out these wonderful fruit trees like bananas, citrus, pineapples, papaya and this list here for more inspiration.

You can go on the University of Hawaii CTARH website here for seeds that have grown well in Hawaii and you can order by form on the site.

Good soil and preparation is essential

It takes a good base in prepping up your soil, adding good amendments, mulch and drainage for plants to grow well and fast in our sunny tropical environments. In Hawaii we have lava, sand, clay and very poor soils, so you need to learn what type of soil you have and want you can do to add more nutrients and even more soil to build up your beds. Depending on the size of garden you want to build, you can buy bags of good soil and mulch or have delivery service done to help you in building healthy soil and beds for planting.

Make your growing area accessible

Find a spot that is easy to move soil, nutrients your tools and even water that you can do daily in maintaining your garden and finding an easy spot to get to everyday from your home is essential.

maintaining a kitchen garden in Hawaii

Tending your garden

We have so many other conditions to consider here in Hawaii from heat and humidity, wildlife and ongoing pest control to consider in protecting growing starts in the growing process. A diligent process of checking daily on plant health, fertilizing and pest control is important to checking growth patterns and health during this crucial time frame. Plants crave good nutrients from the soil to develop good structure and food for consumption.

Growing tropoical fruit in Hawaii

Plants need 8 hours of sun to be healthy and productive

You need a place that actually gets sun to be able to not have shade, competing plants that take nutrients and other impediments to growing and producing the best produce for you. Make sure you site containers, planting beds in areas that allow for enough sun to grow viable and healthy plants to produce well.

Growing veggies in Hawaii

Consider succession gardening

For plants that can last longer seasons or can have seasonal crops that can be prepared in different beds for transition. Longer surviving plants like tomatoes, herbs and eggplant can be grown in one area while other plants staggered that produce at a certain time frame like corn, lettuce, beets, turnips and other seasonal crops.

Pest control in Hawaii

There’s a lot of pests that love to devour plants and fruit so being diligent in your daily inspections is necessary to plant health and creating produce for consumption. Things you can typically use including insecticidal soaps, traps or sprays are needed or organic treatments or even water spraying is what you may consider for producing healthy plants and produce. Check out these typical pests in the Hawaiian garden and effective treatments to maintaining plant growth.

Gardening resources for Hawaii

Garden video inspiration

Gardening 101 basics

Starting perennials in Hawaii

Fast producing fruit trees in Hawaii

Locally adaptable annuals in Hawaii

fast growing vegetables in hawaii

More gardening resources

University of Hawaii Master garden growing links from CTAHR

Non-invasive fruit trees in Hawaii

Yard and garden nutrient management

Fast growing vegetables in a garden

Ten popular tropical and subtropical fruit trees in your home

Pineapple growing season in Hawaii

Hawaii chocolate making and tour

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Gardening in Hawaii is a matter of learning what grows best in Hawaii, education, daily chores and inspection and just getting your hands dirty. Hopefully with all this care and fun in the process, you’ll also end up with some wonderful fruit and vegetables to enjoy from your own gardening pursuits when you plant a garden in Hawaii.

Pineapple season in Hawaii

Pineapple season in Hawaii

Pineapple season in Hawaii

Pineapples are grown year round in Hawaii but really come into season from March to through July on the islands. It’s a great time to get your first taste of the delicious yellow and white pineapples coming into season. Pineapple season in Hawaii is a fantastic time to enjoy some locally grown and delicious fruits grown and sold on the island and try it with some of the recipes you love or recipes below.

Enjoy Hawaiian delicious pineapples in season

Long recognized as a fruit of the islands and a symbol of hospitality, Hawaiian pineapples are grown in everyone’s back yard and you’ll find yellow, white and even wild red pineapples in home gardens, community gardens to more commercial production of the yellow/golden variety.

Hawaiian pineapple in season

When is a pineapple ripe and ready to eat?

Fresh pineapples are what you should look out for at your local farmers market, grocery store or even a fresh fruit stand selling them in season. The most commercial variety is the Maui gold pineapple known for being extra sweet and juicy.

When the fruit is starting to ripen, the outside turns from green grey to yellow. You want to buy a pineapple that is a golden yellow color when it is ready to eat. Stay away from orange, reddish brown with any cracks or wrinkled skin which is overripe at this point.

Use your sense of smell, it should have a strong aroma and sweet smelling with the skin firm but still be pliable and the pineapple should be heavy and bursting with delicious fruit.

Not only are pineapples delicious but they are loaded with nutrients, contains disease fighting anti-oxidants, helps with relieve symptoms of arthritis and boosts your immunity and suppress inflammation. This wonder fruit is has an impressive array of health benefits and can also be used in making some amazing sweet to savory dishes or eaten raw.

tropical pineapples from Hawaii

Hawaiian recipes using fresh pineapple

There are so many ways to prepare sweet or savory dishes with pineapples as a side dish or even the star ingredient to any meal. Check out these wonderful recipes below for inspiration.

Hope you get to try some of these delicious recipes above or even just eat fresh pineapples grown on the islands. Pineapple season in Hawaii is a fantastic time to enjoy these tropical fruits that you can get anywhere on the islands.

Other fun pineapple trivia

When early European explorers reached the Americas and saw pineapple, they saw a resemblance to their own pine cones with the fruit and the name stuck.

You need to buy the fruit at its ripest stage because once it is cut, it doesn’t ripen any further and is perishable unless refridgerated.

Pineapples take about 18-20 months to harvest from initial planting

Pineapples are actually a cluster of hundreds of fruitlets.

Pineapples contain enzymes that are useful for tenderizing meat.

Part of the bromeliad family, pineapples are the only edible fruit from this genus.

Each pineapple has over 200 flowers produced by a single plant on each eventual fruit.

You can only produce one pineapple at a time on each plant

You can actually regenerate a new plant by cutting off the pineapple top and plant it.

The first cultivation of pineapples in Hawaii started in the 18th century and is the only state in the USA to produce pineapples.

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Pineapples from a farmers market in Hawaii

Check out these other Hawaii food topics

Looking for more food inspiration about Hawaii, check out these other topics below for you to discover and enjoy.

Popular Hawaii dishes you need to try

Hawaii chocolate making and tour

Traditional Hawaiian foods

How to eat cheap in Hawaii

Best Luau to choose in maui

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Best luau to choose in Maui

Best luau to choose in Maui

Best luau to choose in Maui
Photo credit – A Maui Blog

For a fun and unique experience to enjoy in Maui, you need to go to a luau on the island. But with many different luau to choose in Maui, you’ll have a tough time to decide. To make it easier here are you options below on the best luau to choose in Maui.

Many of the Maui luau celebrate the early ancient Polynesian settlers to Maui, Polynesian lifestyle and culture and transition to more local celebrations, culture and tradition featuring the demigod Maui, an ancient god. Along with Polynesian dance, song and music, Hawaiian dance and music is also featured and predominant in most of the luau on the island.

A lovely Maui luau ocean front setting
Photo credit – A Maui Blog

Check out these different luau in Maui

Aha’aina – The Grand Wailea luau

This wonderful Luau held on the grounds of The Grand Wailea grounds which is a lux experience in Wailea. The four hour production is elaborate and beautiful to experience with fantastic local Hawaiian and local foods to try in this luau.

The luau celebrates the early voyagers to the island and shares the history and culture of the early Hawaiians on the island along with sharing the traditional Hawaiian foods like Kalua pork and poi, macadamia crusted mahi mahi, and other local favorite foods. Along with the elaborate show, you can also participate in doing some local games, crafts and even learn to hula dance.

Details to participating in the show

This luau is popular and does book up early so do plan ahead

This is open seating dining at the luau and show

The luau is family friendly

The event is held at the Grand Wailea Grand Astoria Resort

on Mondays, Thursdays, Friday and Saturday

For more details check out this site for more information, availability and prices.

Te Au Moana – Marriott Wailea Luau

Located at the Marriott Wailea, this fabulous luau translates into “the Ocean Tide” and early Hawaiians living aloha and love of the “Aina” or land they lived in. The luau located on the coastline on grassy lawn with spectacular views along with a dynamic show and dining experience. Prior to dinner you get to see and participate in various traditional Hawaiian rituals like tapa making, coconut husking, making leis, other crafts and showcasing weaponry and fishing demonstrations in this best of Maui Luau.

Dinner service includes local and traditional fare including Molokai sweet potatoes, Grilled teriyaki steak and kalua pork, pineapple coleslaw and seafood pasta along with other local favorites.

Details to participating at the Marriott Wailea Luau

Shows happen on Mondays, Thursdays, Friday and Saturday

Cultural interaction and participation is family friendly

Free for children under 5

Located at the Wailea Beach Resort and Spa

For more details check out this site for more information, availability and prices.

Myths of Maui – Royal Lahaina Resort

A gorgeous oceanfront luau at the Royal Lahaina Resort at Ka’anapali beach starting with a lovely luau lei greeting. The luau offers an authentic luau experience with an presentation with a pig imu unearthing or pua’a, exotic tropical drinks like mai tais and delicious buffet cuisine of traditional and local favorites from the island.

The nights entertainment presents the best of Polynesian music, dance and storytelling combining both Hawaiian and Polynesian cultures and traditional dance.

More details to the Myths of Maui

This is a family friendly luau experience.

Seating is pre-assigned depending on early booking, for the best seats consider the VIP bookings that will allow up front seating.

Shows occur daily and starts at 6pm for general seating

For more details check out this site for more information, availability and prices.

Hyatt Regency Luau – Drums of the Pacific

A conch shell and beating drums followed by Hawaiian chants start the beginning to this wonderful luau along with a torch lighting ceremony. You get all the nice touches of a luau including lei greeting, exotic mai tais, an authentic imu ceremony (steamed pig unearthing), and traditional arts and crafts demonstrations. Along with wonderful Hawaiian music, there’s a unique Polynesian fashion show with creative and unique tropical styles of dress.

This is followed by a buffet feast with traditional favorites including huli huli chicken, Kalua pork, lomi lomi salmon, grilled fish, ahi poke, poi and many other local favorite dishes to try.

Next is an all tribute Polynesian show experience of the Drums of the Pacific showcasing the traditional music and dance of the region. This includes Hawaii, Samoa, Fiji, Tahiti, Tonga, New Zealand and Rarotonga’s best music and dance.

Details to attending the luau Drums of the Pacific

Open bar with beer, wine, mixed drinks and tropical punch

An elaborate dessert bar is also featured with the buffet portion of the meal.

The luau event happens every day and starts at 5:30pm

For more details check out this site for more information, availability and prices.

Old Lahaina Luau

The Old Lahaina Luau only showcases the best of Hawaiian culture, history, music and dance which sets it apart of the other Luau’s that features a pan Polnesian experience. Held on ocean front grounds with breath taking views of old town Lahaina and coastline. The luau offers fascinating imu pig unearthing, story telling and cultural demonstrations and island crafts.

The buffet also sets the food apart with an elaborate menu that features local favorites like Kalua pork, island chicken, Maui style Mahi Mahi, Ko’ala steak, lomi lomi salmon and poke, poi and assorted island desserts.

The entertainment portion Hawaiian production shares the best of Hawaii centric tradition, history and culture. Starting with migration from Polynesia to Hawaii, encompassing traditional chants, dance and ancient hula performed for respected family and guests. This follows with the entry of the missionaries and Merrie Monarch revival of the hula and into contemporary Auana style dance and music.

Details to attending the Old Lahaina Luau

Luau events happen daily and advanced reservations are required.

Guests may choose from our Traditional Hawaiian Mat seating, or our regular Conventional Tables and Chairs

Luau hosts greet you and guide you to reserved seating tables and acquaint them to the grounds features

There are premium open bar available during the entire event

Professional photographers are available with no purchase necessary

For more details check out this site for more information, availability and prices.

The Feast of Lele

An oceanfront ocean front luau in Lahaina, the Feast of Lele is the ancient name of Lahaina and celebrates Polynesian culture, music, dance through Hawaii, Tahiti, Samoa and Aotearoa.

The feast features a sit-down dinner showcasing five epicurean courses from the Pacific island nations of Aotearoa, Tahiti, Samoa, and Hawaiʻi that you can choose from a set menu. There is also an open bar of exotic drinks, beers, wine and other local favorites for the entire show.

Details to attending the Feast of Lele

Open daily from 6:30 to 9:30 pm

Photographers are on sight to take sunset and luau photographs with no obligation

Fine dining style with reserved and private tables – no buffet service

Location: Along the beach in historic Lahaina Town
505 Front Street, Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii 96761

For more details check out this site for more information, availability and prices.

Maui Nui Loa – Sheraton Maui Resort Luau

Located ocean front at the Sheraton Maui Resort and Spa – the luau is a tribute to Maui and Kaanapali history, culture and folklore along with a Pan Pacific event. You’ll enjoy a traditional lei and cocktail greeting with casual craft demonstrations, hula basics and other Hawaiian games right when you enter the grounds. The highlight at the start is the unearthing of the Kalua pig from an imu (underground steaming pit) and is unearth from all the covered dirt and banana leaf. The torch lights are lit and the actual buffet gets started.

The grand buffet covers local favorite foods like Kalua pork, lomi lomi salmon, Molokai sweet potato, BBQ chicken, steamed opakaka and so many other delicious foods from the island.

Details to the Maui Nui Loa Luau

Happens on Mondays, Wednesday and some Fridays starting at 5pm

Family friendly venue with crafting classes, temporary tatoos and Hawaiian games

You can opt for just a drink option and show without food

For more details check out this site for more information, availability and prices.

The Feast at Mokapu at Andaz Maui

A luxury luau experience with only 150 guest seating for this limited luau event at the Andaz is stylish and refined dining. Greetings start with green and gold shell necklaces and escorted to private dining seats. A gourmet three course menu is served at the table along with craft signature drinks served.

In the entertainment segment, you get a beautiful show with live ukelele performances, singing, beautiful hula to Tahitian dancing and high energy Samoan fire dances at night.

Details to the Feast at Mokapu

Limited seating available on Sunday and Tuesday evenings from 5 to 8 pm

Complimentary 8 x 10 souvenir photo is included with the event

Craft cocktails are prepared for each drink

For more details check out this site for more information, availability and prices.

Lahaina ocean front Luau
Lahaina Luau photo credit – A Maui Blog

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Other posts on visiting Maui below

Top 20 things to do in Lahaina, Maui

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Beautiful Maui luau at Lahaina
Beautiful Maui luau at Lahaina Photo credit – A Maui Blog

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Popular Hawaii dishes you need to try

Popular Hawaii dishes you need to try

Popular Hawaii dishes you need to try

Hawaii is a melting pot of so many different foods, flavors, ingredients and nationalities that blend to create unique Hawaiian style food for today. Hawaii cuisine is unique and also comforting at the same time – covering delicious street food and pupus (appetizers or snacks), a mixture of Asian, American and European influence and local favorite dishes that have been passed through the generations. Along with authentic Hawaiian foods, plantation workers from around the world came to Hawaii and shared their favorite comfort foods and helped to create an eclectic melting pot of dishes. Eventually, this became a mixed plate style of local delicious Hawaiian dishes and popular pupus, entrees and desserts . Check out some of these popular Hawaii dishes you need to try when you visit and see which ones end up being some of your favorite Hawaiian food.

Try some of these local Hawaiian dishes

Hawaii pupu appetizer plate

Hawaiian pupus or appetizers

Hawaiian pupus are a typically served Pau Hana or end of day. Enjoying some delicious small bites and a nice beverage with good friends and just relaxing is how we celebrate Pau Hana . Pupus (appetizers) are very popular dishes at happy hour venues or just a take out dish brought to the beach to eat and enjoy outdoors. Here are some of the local favorites you’ll always find in a café, take out counter or a grocery prepared food section.

poke-take-out pupu dish

Poke – raw sushi prepared in a myriad of ways originated in Hawaii and has become well known worldwide. Typically using local fish like Ahi, Ono and mahi mahi, poke is usually prepared with the freshest raw fish cuts and ingredients in a variety of styles and taste. There are many poke shops, grocery deli areas and even restaurants that do their own take of this tasty Poke appetizer dish.

Egg roll appetizer at a cafe

Eggrolls or lumpia – a take off from Chinese style egg rolls or Filipino lumpia, egg rolls in Hawaii are a pupu favorite eaten with or without a delicious sauce. This pupu can be sold traditionally in take out counters or served in fine dining establishments with their on take on an elevated eggroll presentation and taste

Spam musubi in Hawaii

Spam musubi – a popular take away snack found everywhere, this easy to eat and simple rice, spam and seaweed wrap is a quick filler in between the main meals and popular with locals. Spam musubi is an easy snack you can find at local mom and pop counter food places, farmers markets and even a local grocery or gas station that sells snacks.

Manapua fusion dish in Hawaii

Steamed manapua – a different take on Chinese pork buns, the Hawaiian manapua is typically larger with BBQ style meat or charsui and a yummy sweet/sour style sauce that is easy to devour by yourself. Best eaten when right out of the steamer, it is also delicious eaten at room temperature.

Garlic edamame

Edamame – Originating from Japan, this simple snack of edamame is simply prepared with garlic, sesame oil and some chili flakes on the boiled beans that absorbs all the delicious flavors from the mixed ingredients. A perfect snack to go along with any popular Hawaiian beer, cider or cocktail drink

eating Boiled-peanuts in Hawaii

Boiled peanuts – An easy to make and eat popular snack, boiled peanuts are just that boiled in water and salt and drained. Whenever locals crave a bit of salt and something nutty, this is definitely the choice of pupu they will look for.

Portugues sausage with mixed meats

Portuguese Sausage – grilled, baked or fried, Portuguese sausage is delicious as a pupu or a meat side dish that is often served with a mixed plate dish. It is always a local favorite sausage you will find in any local café or takeout counter.

Hawaiian style entrees

Plate lunch specials in Hawaii

Plate lunch – many take places, small store delis or even cafes sell to go plate lunches with local favorite entrees over two scoops of rice and two scoops of macaroni. Try this with favorite fried mochi chicken, deep fried fish or seafood or specials of the day

eating a Bento-Box in Hawaii

Bento Box – originally from Japan, bentos are offered at many Japanese places and other take-out spots or cafes that serve up smaller mixes of local Japanese flavored dishes like fried fish, mochiko chicken, chicken or pork katsu and sushi or rolls.

Trying a Moco Loco dish

Moco loco – you can get many different versions of moco loco dishes or stick to the local favorite which typically has two scoops of rice, a hamburger steak type patty and a generous topping of gravy with a fried egg on top. This local favorite comfort food is always on the menu at local cafes or restaurants.

Local Hawaiian kalua pig dish

Kalua Pig – a very popular entrée meat dish that is always at every pot luck or luau you might go to, Kalua pig is moist, juicy and a great dish to mix with rice or poi as a starch. Typically done traditionally in an imu (steamed underground pit), kalua pig is now baked in a stove or crock pot. Kalua pig is so easy to do in a slow cooker, check out how make Kalua pig here for instructions.

Popular Hawaiian lau lau dish

Lau lau – a favorite dish in any Hawaiian menu, lau lau is made with taro leaves wrapped around pork and or fish and steamed to create a delicious, moist, comfort style food especially when combined with poi or rice as a starch dish. If you want to try and make it yourself, check out this simple lau lau recipe here for directions.

Hawaiian lomi salmon

Lomi salmon – a typical side dish in a Hawaiian style mixed plate made with diced tomatoes, onions and dried fish or salmon to make this a savory, salty side complemented with some poi or rice. Check out this simple lomi salmon recipe here on how to make some delicious lomi salmon.

huli-huli-chicken from Hawaii

Huli Huli chicken – You’ll have to stop if you see huli huli rotisseries at a roadside stand with those amazing smells. It is melt in your mouth perfect chicken that’s moist, flavorful and so delicious with some rice, macaroni salad or lomi salmon on the side.

Hawaiian chicken luau stew

Luau stew – Just like grandma would make comfort food style, luau stew is just that made with taro leaves, coconut milk and some protein like chicken, pork or beef depending on what’s in the fridge. Everyone has their own favorite style and added flavors, but these basic ingredients make it a favorite Hawaiian comfort food.

Hawaiian Short-ribs

Hawaiian Short Ribs – another popular dish that everyone love, short ribs Hawaiian style is typically dried and then grilled or baked to gooey perfection. There are many different preparation styles, sauces and ingredients used, but typical tropical and Asian flavors in preparing and marinating the meat are the local way to enjoy these ribs.

saimen noodles in Hawaii

Saimin Noodles

A more Hawaiian take on ramen soup than Asian counterparts, Saimin is a local favorite soup broth made with fish, pork and chicken stock. Add some Portuguese sausage, fish or pork with this soup and you have a hearty and flavorful local dish everyone loves to eat.

Poi from Hawaii

Poi – the traditional Hawaiian poi is made with taro that is pounded and water added to create a sticky consistency. Letting the poi sit and ferment for a few days adds a sour touch that is perfect for the various meats and other side dishes that complement this starch.

trying local pipi-kaula

Pipi Kalua – Hawaiian jerky style beef that is dried outdoors and then fried or char broiled in an oven to tender goodness. When you add some rice or poi with other sides, this is the most delicious Hawaiian meal you have and will crave for days.

eating some Hawaiian chicken-long-rice

 Chicken long rice – When the Hawaiians brought their chickens, they saw that Chinese laborers would combine their noodles into a fantastic soup and chicken which created this fantastic dish and flavored with lots of garlic and ginger to make a favorite local dish.

Hawaiian purple sweet potato

Purple sweet potato – a staple starch brought as a canoe plant by the Polynesians, purple sweet potato is always part of a Hawaiian mixed plate or pot luck style dish that is a perfect complement to all the savory and salty dishes present in any food event or something you’ll find at a café or take out counter.

Hawaiian style desserts

Delicious desserts cover the gamut of tropical flavors, fried goodies or something cold and perfect for those hot Hawaiian days where you want something easy and refreshing. Check out some of these popular desserts below that you might want to try soon.

Hawaii shaved-ice

Hawaiian shaved Ice – You definitely have to try a local shaved ice at any of the popular local venues and on a hot day. Super fine shaved ice is pack into paper cones and you then have a choice of different flavors to top like coconut, mango, lilikoi or a bevy of other popular toppings to choose from to create your own yummy dessert

Haupia-dessert from Hawaii

Haupia – a popular Hawaiian favorite, Haupia is basically a coconut cream dessert that can be served creamy style, more solid and cut or even combined with other sweet ingredients like sweet potato or even sweetened taro to make a more complex dessert.

malasadas from Hawaii

Malasadas – taken from Portuguese settlers that deep fried this gooey dough and slathered sugar all over the fried goodness. Malasadas are served best hot and also with a bevy of piped

delicious Hawaii mochi dessert

Sweet mochi

A local favorite dessert you can find at many farmers markets, take out places and even grocery stores. Mochi cakes originate from Japan but with many different variations in Hawaii to include tropical flavors like likikoi, pineapple and coconut. Try some delicious mochi and you will be sold.

Check out these other stories on Hawaii food

Traditional Hawaiian food favorite dishes

Hawaii chocolate making and tour

How to eat cheap in Hawaii

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Thanks for visiting today and checking out this post on Popular Hawaii dishes you need to try. I hope you are inspired to plan a visit and enjoy these wonderful attractions. If you enjoyed the images and post, could you please share it with any of the social media buttons located around the post.

If you like what you see, come and check out my other social media channels for more updates, including Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter
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Hawaii Chocolate making and tour

Hawaii Chocolate making and tour

Hawaii Chocolate making and tour

Chocolate making is spreading on the Big Island!

This Hawaii Chocolate making and tour was a fun experience offered by a local grower in the Big Island of Hawaii. There are several farmers on Hawai’i Island planting varieties of Theobroma cacao trees that produce cacao seeds or pods from which cocoa and chocolate is made.  The best known varieties are Criollo, Forastero and Trinitario which is a hybrid mix of both Criollo and Forastero.

The quality of the chocolate depends on the variety of the tree, and Criollo is considered the best chocolate producing trees.

Cacao – From Tree to Chocolate

Touring the cacao fields in Hawaii island

Sometime ago, I participated in a fun one-day chocolate making workshop at local grower, Sharks Coffee in the Hamakua district that took us from harvesting the cacao pods to making the chocolate and all the steps in between.

We arrived at the site early on a beautiful, sunny but breezy morning and were given a short orientation talk by the owner of the little farmstead who is a coffee and cacao grower.

Our group got paired up in teams of twos, one picking the pods and the other carrying a burlap sack to put them in.  As we walked through the cacao grove, he explained and demonstrated what to look for and how to pick.  He also explained how the trees need to be trimmed by cutting all but the main trunk as the little trees grew to make it easier to harvest.

The pods are harvested approximately every two weeks and the ‘ripe’ stage can be red, yellow, orange or mixed, depending on the variety of cacao tree.  We harvested approximately 300 pods that morning.

As sacks were filled and dumped into a wheelbarrow they were taken to the shed where the processing started.

Extracting the seed pods from the cacao pods

We were taught how to open the pods by giving them one or two sharp blows with a mallet and how to shuck the pods by removing the placentas with the seeds.  Each pod can contain anywhere from 30 to 40 seeds.

After all the pods were opened and shucked, the seeds were placed in a large plastic container with drainage in the bottom to collect the juices.  We were given ice-cold juice from a previous harvest to taste and found it delicious.  The empty pods are recycled as composting material and nothing is wasted.

After the juices are drained, the beans are placed in a different container to ferment for 5 to 7 days, turning them each day, making sure that the beans are heating up.

After fermenting comes the drying stage; the beans are turned onto a mesh bottom drying rack in a single layer, in a well ventilated area and stirred daily.  This process can take up to 6 days, depending on heat and air circulation, but dryness can be tested by opening a bean.

The dried beans need to be ground or cracked using a machine called Crackenstein or for small batches just simply a rolling pin.  The farmer has a machine he rigged up to separate the dried husks from the nibs, but a regular hand-held hair dryer can be used when processing small batches.

cacao roasting process in Hawaii Island

When roasting small batches of nibs, set a toaster oven at 425oF and roast for 9 minutes, then down to 325oF for another 9 minutes and finally bring the temperature down to 259oF for 10 minutes.

To grind the nibs a large Champion juicer can be used or a peanut butter machine to turn the nibs into paste.  The paste is then placed in a Santha wet grinding-mixing machine for conching, for 2 to 4 days, adding sugar and vanilla slowly after paste is liquefied (about 12 hours).  At this point you may also add cocoa butter and lecithin (emulsifier), but we didn’t add anything but sugar and vanilla to our batch. 

measuring and weighing cacao nibs in Hawaii Island

Sugar can be adjusted according to your taste.  Our dark chocolate was made using 75% cacao to 25% sugar.

To temper, the chocolate should be brought up to 115 to 120 degrees, then removed from heat and cooled to approximately 82 F.  Bring the temperature back to 88-90 degrees and maintain while pouring into molds by working quickly.

Tempering the chocolate process in Hawaii

Squirt bottles work well for pouring the liquid chocolate into the molds.  To minimize air bubbles, first tap the squirt bottle and after pouring, tap the molds to remove as many bubbles as possible. Chill for about 15 to 20 minutes to set and pop loose from mold.

Squeezing liquid chocolate into bottles to pour in molds

Each participant left on a chocolate high with a few packages of the chocolate and a potted one foot Criollo variety of cacao tree.  My tree is now about 20 feet tall and we’ve been harvesting pods, which we use for making small batches, or trade to a chocolatier friend for chocolate bars!

Final chocolate bars from bean in Hawaii

Cacao Glossary:

Cacao: the name of the tree and the pod, not to be confused with cocoa a product derived from processing the cacao beans

Nibs: the clean, roasted and slightly crushed cacao bean.  The taste is slightly bittersweet and richer than the chocolate made from them.

Conching: the process by which the chocolate is processed to avoid grittiness by keeping the chocolate in a hot liquid state until completely smooth.

Tempering: the final process which gives the chocolate a satiny and glossy finish by removing all crystallization from the liquid.

Recommended reading:

The New Taste of Chocolate: A Cultural and Natural History of Chocolate with Recipes by Maricel Presilla

Naked Chocolate: The Astonishing Truth about the World’s Greatest Food by David Wolfe

The True History of Chocolate by Sophie and Michael Coe

Bio of Sonia Martinez

Sonia was born in Cuba and ended up living in Hawai‘i—from one beautiful island in the Atlantic to another beautiful island in the Pacific with several years in between living in the American South. She lives in a beautiful rural rainforest area on Hawai’i Island where she enjoys growing herbs, collecting cookbooks, developing recipes, visiting farms and farmers markets, writing about food and cooking, reading voraciously, and working on crossword puzzles. Keep up with her adventures and ongoing love affair with Hawai’i by visiting her food and garden blog called Sonia Tastes Hawaii

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Traditional Hawaiian food favorites

Traditional Hawaiian food favorites

Traditional Hawaiian food favorites

The traditional food of the Hawaiians always seems to get lost or infused with other local ethnic style dishes that get mixed into Hawaii cuisine. But the traditional foods of Hawaii and the Hawaiian culture are unique and have remained the same in authentic cooking styles from the past with a some influence from plantation time foods that have been incorporated into their diet. If you’re interested in tasting traditional Hawaiian foods, look out for these following dishes that are truly Hawaiian food favorites to try when you visit.

A sampling of Hawaiian food favorites

Kalua Pig

traditional Hawaiian food favorites with kalua pig

So, what is Kalua pig – A favorite Hawaiian food, basically this is baked pig done in an imu using traditional kalua techniques (underground pit and covered with ti leaf and steamed) and gives a nice smoky steamed effect on the meat.

Where to find this – most restaurants, take out places, even grocery stores sell Kalua pig because it is a staple meat on the islands for protein. Most home-made versions are done in a slow cooker or baked in the oven

Lau Lau

lau lau hawaiian food

What is Lau lau – a term meaning leaf, this is wrapped goodness with taro leaves wrapped around fish and pork and steamed until it all melts in your mouth including the delicious taro leaf which is a staple green for Hawaiians.

Where to find this – many take out places, grocery stores and café/restaurants serve this a high-end version come out with pupu (appetizer) style of Lau Lau

Squid Luau

squid luau food

What is this dish – basically squid luau is a delicious squid cooked in taro leaves and coconut milk and tender to the taste. Sometimes chicken is added to this dish to give more sweet and savory meat flavor.

Where to find – not always on take out menus but in local cafes or local mom and pop take out places that might have it on the menu. Try it, you’ll like it!

Purple sweet potato

sweet potato dish

What is this – a staple canoe plant brought by early Hawaiians for starch, the purple sweet potato is boiled, steamed, baked. Can be eaten cut up or mashed up like a poi.

Where to find this – the sweet potato is typically a side dish to many take out places and in many plate lunch specials that you can find at takeout places


Poi hawaiian favorites

What is Poi – basically this is the staple starch for Hawaiians which is a sticky paste made with taro root and pounded with a poi ponder and water added until it is the right gooey consistency. Left out a few days to ferment, the poi adds more of a sour taste to the starch

Where to find poi – most Hawaiian plate meals will include poi as part of a mixed plate special at many take out or mom and pop café style venue


Haupia desserts from Hawaii

What is Haupia – a favorite dessert that is like a coconut pudding, Haupia is made with coconut milk, sugar and some cornstarch to create the thick dessert.

Where to find haupia – sold in a mixed plate with other Hawaiian style food at many take out places, mom and pop shops. You can order haupia separately as a dessert and some come with different variations like sweet potato layered in with the Haupia

Lomi Salmon

lomi salmon hawaiian food

What is lomi salmon – a mixture of diced tomatoes, onions and cured raw salmon or salted fish. This is typically served cold and mixed with poi to complement the salty flavors. Making Lomi salmon is very easy with these very simple fresh ingredients that make a perfect complement to any other Hawaiian traditional dish.

Where to find lomi salmon – a staple dish included in any mixed Hawaiian plate, you’ll find poi included with most meals as a side dish.

Chicken long rice

chicken long rice dish

What is chicken long rice – made during the missionary timeframe when Chinese contract laborers added noodles and made this into a soup, chicken long rice has been incorporated into the Hawaiian style dish that is a local favorite with lots of ginger and garlic added to the soup.

Where to find this – a typical dish you can order at the plate lunch place, farmers market food vendors, mom and pop shop, even local style grocery stores.

Pipi Kaula

pipi kaula entree

What is pipi kaula – a delicious Hawaiian style jerky that is dried outdoors and is then fried or char-broiled in an oven and added to poi or rice in a combination. Many versions are now made with different ingredients and sauces to create a variety of flavors and oven drying to cure the meat faster.

Where to find pipi kaula – a farmer’s markets, road side stands or food trucks and local take out counters that sell this as an entree


kulolo dessert from Hawaii

What is Kulolo – a baked dessert like a haupia but using grated taro instead of coconut and using mature coconut or coconut cream, sugar and with the taro and baked in an imu or oven for a few hours

Where to find Kulolo – sold at roadside stands, farmers markets and some local take out places selling Hawaiian style food and desserts

Breadfruit or Ulu

bread fruit

What is breadfruit – a typical starch like a potato that Hawaiians brought with them, this starch is typically steamed, baked, boiled or even deep fried. Many different versions of breadfruit are being created to infuse more local starches into the food menu.

Where to find breadfruit – you can buy at farmers markets or have this in a mixed Hawaiian plate at various take out places.

Luau stew

Traditional luau stew

What is Luau stew – a delicious comfort food that grandma made that is a popular Hawaiian dish and made with seasoned and cooked taro leaves and added protein, typically a beef brisket which oozes amazing flavors to the stew. Other typical ingredients that you will find in the stew includes: coconut milk, ginger, onion, pepper and seaweed.

Where to find Luau stew – popular take out food places, cafes and local mom and pop counter shops will sell this delicious comfort style food.


poke pupu

What is poke – the popular raw fish Hawaiian poke is well loved here in Hawaii with many different versions, ingredients and sauces added to create a variety of taste and flavors. The basic flavoring of Hawaiian style poke includes onions, sesame oil, soy sauce, chili pepper and garlic

Where to find poke – there are poke specialty shops, grocery stores and take out places that all sell different versions of poke all over Hawaii.


opihi shellfish

What is Opihi – this is the local edible shellfish or limpet that attaches to rocks on a seashore and is typically pried from the rocks and eaten raw like an oyster. The raw ocean goodness of Opihi shellfish is mixed with sea salt and sometimes seaweed to add more flavor and texture. Sometimes opihi is grilled and mixed in the a variety of sauces and ingredients to create more flavor and taste.

Where to find opihi – not as easy to find on the menu, you can get opihi from sea food markets, road side vendors selling seafood or some local grocery outlets that sometimes carry these on the menu.

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traditional hawaiian foods to try

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If you are looking for Traditional Hawaiian food favorites, look for any of these dishes and items at your local café, take out counter, road side stand, farmers markets or even a fine dining venue in Hawaii and you will really soak up the local flavors and taste of Hawaiian food.

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