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5 Must-Try Food On Your Next Hawaii Trip

a plate of food with a fork and knife

We all love traveling. There’s sightseeing, meeting new people, and let’s not forget about the Instagram posts to impress your friends back home. But let’s admit it, the food is one of the best parts of it all!

With its bounty of fresh island fruits and vegetables, cattle farms, and the vast Pacific Ocean rich with sashimi-grade fish, Hawaii is nothing short of a foodie’s paradise.

Hawaiian cuisine is a beautiful symphony of flavors and tradition. Hawaii takes pride in its culinary diversity that fuses the rich palates of different cultures and global influences. The island is a melting pot of exciting cuisines and delicacies you can’t find anywhere else. From ʻono food trucks and themed diners to fine-dining and gourmet restaurants, the island is dotted with delicious culinary treasures guaranteed to give you some of your most memorable culinary experiences of your life.

With a wide array of exciting dishes, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Lucky for you, we have compiled the 5 best Hawaiian foods you must try on your next trip to the Big Island of Hawaii.

The Plate Lunch

We are starting strong with the plate lunch. Nothing says good times like sunshine and a plate lunch with friends by the beach in Hawaii. Whether you find yourself at the lunch wagon, a local’s house, or a fancy restaurant, when in Hawaii, you have to do what the locals do: get yourself a Hawaiian Plate Lunch. It usually includes a bed of steamy white rice topped with kalua pork, chicken laulau, pipikaula, or lomi salmon, plus a side serving of poi or macaroni salad and kulolo for dessert. You cannot beat the combination of satisfying tastes and flavor! There is no general rule when eating the plate lunch; you can mix and match everything to your liking. Let’s break down the components:

  • Kalua pig is an earthly smokey pork dish cooked in an imu or underground oven and wrapped with ti or banana leaves.
  • Laulau (chicken, pork, or beef) is seasoned meat wrapped in either ti or taro leaves and steamed for 2-4 hours to infuse flavors.
  • Pipikaula is similar to beef jerky or dried beef. It is a braided string of raw beef seasoned and hung to dry.
  • Lomi salmon is diced salmon meat kneaded and massaged with salt.
  • Poi is a pounded or cooked taro usually formed into starchy sticky balls.
  • Kulolo is known as taro and coconut cream pudding, a delectable Hawaiian dessert.


Poke isn’t just a Hawaiian dish; it’s a way of life. Pre-colonial Hawaiians enjoyed raw fish with limu (a local seaweed) and oil-rich kukui nuts (also known as candlenuts). Poke became a potluck and supermarket staple in the ’70s. The traditional Hawaiian poke consists of fish that has been gutted, skinned, deboned, and seasoned. Grab a local-style poke for a beach picnic and enjoy a variety of fresh raw fish infused in a beautiful concoction of Maui onions, tobiko (fish roe), avocado, and spicy mayo. Add some wasabi or sesame oil if you want a good kick to the flavor.

Loco Moco

You’re on vacation; indulge! The Loco Moco allows you to do just that during your Hawaiian trip. It is a hearty dish best enjoyed after a surf session at the beach or a long hike. Loco Moco is the fusion of a juicy burger patty, hot and savory gravy, and a scoop of white rice, all topped by the queen of dish-toppers, the fried egg. Break the yolk and let it run, thickening the already slow-moving gravy and pulling all of the flavors together into a mouthwatering harmony of flavors. Loco Moco, Spanish for the word “crazy,” lives up to its name, giving us some craziest cravings.


The ice cream man isn’t the highlight of the neighborhood in Hawaii because the locals enjoy their Manapua like no other. Like the Chinese char siu bao (filled bun or bread-like dumpling), the Manapua is a delicious fluffy white bun stuffed with savory pork. The best Manapua is eaten fresh from the steamer. Its light roll gleams with a sheen on the outside, the skin holding the bun together. The filling is stuffed in the bun, looking like it’s about to pop with delicious goodness. You can easily find them on the bakery shelves or in the nearest convenience store anywhere in Hawaii.


Haupia is a beloved island dessert of the Hawaiians. It is smooth, creamy, and gelatin-like in texture, made from coconut milk, and is traditionally served in little cut squares or as a custard pudding. A cross between coconut pudding and jelly, this delicacy has influenced other desserts that you can easily find in Hawaiian feasts and local food hubs. Suppose you want a decadent twist to the dessert. In that case, you can try a chocolate haupia cream pie, renowned for its light and airy crust, dark chocolate custard, and silky haupia generously topped with whipped cream – perfect to be eaten after an excellent Hawaiian meal.

These are our top 5 must-try foods across the Big Island of Hawaii that you, your friends, and your loved ones should not miss. Of course, eating your way through Hawaii is always better in good company and great adventures!

Botanical World Adventures can make your trip to Hawaii the most memorable vacation. Whether you are looking for cultural education, island exploration, zipline or segway adventures, nature tours, or all of the above – we can help you have the best Hawaiian travel experience! Book your adventure with us today, and we hope you will come soon, stay long, and come back often!

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