Big Island Snorkling Tours Blog



John Derrick for Hawaii Guide on native Hawaiian dishes visitors should check out.  You should also check out our snorkel and manta ray tours for a once-in-a-lifetime activity!

Hawaiian Dishes and the Beginnings

In days long past, Polynesian people sailed to the Hawaiian Islands. Along with the hopes of settling and starting communities, they brought with them seeds, French Polynesian foods, fruits, and much revered native recipes.

The sands of these beautiful islands did not leave them with an abundance of choice, but what it did have, including an array of seafood, were the beginnings of traditional Hawaiian food, and dishes we love to this day.

The diversity of foods and ethnicities who traveled to the Islands brought many and varied flavors.

European, Japanese, Korean, and Chinese immigrants brought their own unique tastes and cooking styles, and hence new hybrid cuisines were born.

So, what are some of the favorites? Any trip to Hawaii and its many communities deserves to have the cuisines explored. These delicious native Hawaiian dishes will have you wanting more.

Forget the food courts, Let’s get real.

Kalua pig

Kalua pig is a smoked, shredded pork dish, not unlike the barbecue pulled pork known today.

Sometimes combined with cabbage, it is considered a delicacy and is one of the oldest in Hawaiian history.

This traditional Hawaiian dish was originally only served to tribe chiefs around the early 1800s. It was considered only worthy of greatness and not for everyday people.

How long did they think that would last? Around 20 years actually, when King Kamehameha began hosting feats for all to enjoy.

That’s more like it. You can’t keep a good meal from everyday folk.


Due to the abundance of fresh fish off the shores of Hawaii, this traditional dish was born.

Essentially, poke (poh-kay) is chopped raw fish, traditionally fresh tuna, rubbed with salt, marinated, and served with seaweed. native nuts and other condiments.

Visitors will find some variation in different settings and this dish may even seem familiar to those who are regular consumers of poke bowls. Today poke bowls can be seen all over the world, but do not truly represent the traditional mouth-watering, extremely fresh, and delightful Hawaiian poke.

This dish is a part of the lifestyle of Hawaiians, no matter where the current-day poke trends may take us.

If you are new to this dish, start with yellowfin tuna, salted and mixed with sliced onion. A dressing will consist of soy sauce and sesame oil. Keep it simple to start, then if you want to get adventurous, go for it.

For locals and visitors alike, this is a mouth-watering must-have.

Loco Moco

Featured in contemporary Hawaiian cuisine, this mouth-watering native Hawaiian dish also has humble beginnings.

Loco Moco (loh-koo moh-koo) is considered fast food and was established after World War II.

White rice is topped with a hamburger patty, smothered in tasty gravy, and crowned with a fried egg. The egg is broken and mixed with all other ingredients to ensure all flavors are combined and eaten as intended.

This is Hawaiian comfort food at its best.


For noodle soup lovers, this could be the one for you. Made from wheat and egg noodles in a dashi (dried fish, sea Kelp, and shitake mushroom) soup base, this Hawaiian dish can include added meat but is always laden with the freshest of vegetables. The last part is essential.

This mouth-watering Hawaiian dish is not for produce that has seen better days. There is no room here for tired sprouts begging to walk off quietly into the sunset with their limp cousin, the 6-week-old celery.

Influenced by Asian cuisine, this clean and light soup is filling and nutritious.

Look for Saimin anywhere on the islands of Hawaii. From local food cafes to resorts and even fast-food outlets. This could be a staple on your next trip to Hawaii.


Who has room for dessert?  Of course, the answer is always a resounding Yes.

Made from coconut milk, haupia is a traditional Hawaiian dessert. With the consistency of jelly, it is served on its own or can sit atop native Ti leaves or banana leaves. It is also seen as a topping for cakes, including wedding cakes.

Made traditionally with heated coconut milk, and ground pia, a root starch with Polynesian history, today it can be made with cornstarch as a substitute.


Fruit of The Gods

You can’t speak of Hawaiian dishes without going down the pineapple road, although just how this luscious fruit got to the Hawaiian shores is a varied story.

Regardless, this spiny plant cannot go without mention.

Rough on the outside and delectable on the inside. Sounds like a few people you’ve no doubt met in your travels, right?

There are not too many people who don’t like it. Ok enough. Hawaii has more to offer. Let’s give some others the spotlight.

Hawaii is lucky enough to have a growing season that lasts all year long.

  • Pitaya. Commonly known as dragon fruit, this unusual plant was originally native to South America. It is now grown all over the world.
  • Ohi’a ‘ai/Mountain Apples. This shiny pear-shaped delight is plentiful and a treat in the warmer months. They are quite fragile and of course, are best when in season and fresh,
  • Lilikoi. This bright yellow passion fruit is native to Hawaii and is much like the passion fruit that we know with the exception of its amazing color. Make juice out of it or flavor sparkling chilled water. A must-have in summer

And the favorite fruit dishes of Hawaii? What better way to sample them than to have them all together?



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