Tropical fruit is found everywhere on the islands of Hawaiʻi. If you are a fruit lover, or if you just want to try something new that you didn't know even existed, here is a list of tropical fruit you have to eat when you're in Hawaiʻi.
Most of these fruits can be found at farmers' markets that occur on certain days of the week all over the islands. Let's start with the obvious.
Coconuts are one of the most popular fruits to eat in any tropical location. In places like Waimānalo, you can find people opening them up for you to drink and cutting them down so you can eat the meat of the fruit, all for a few dollars. Coconut water is one of Hawaiʻi's hangover remedies, and is an overall favorite any time you're thirsty.
It's always fun to visit the Dole Plantation Farm near the North Shore of O'ahu and to see fields of pineapple stretching across the land. Try them freshly cut, or enjoy them as edible bowls to carry your açaí and other fruity treats in.
Papaya from the mainland and papaya from Hawaiʻi should be considered two different fruits. Papaya from Hawaiʻi is so much sweeter and juicer than any papaya you've ever tasted. Papaya seed dressing is popular at most salad bars or restaurants, and it is a must-try.
Mangos, just like papayas, are a lot sweeter in Hawaiʻi. I don't know if it's the salt or the aloha in the air, but you can taste the difference in sweetness when you first take a bite. The picture above was taken at Mango Days on O'ahu, and it serves everything mango—a mango-lover's paradise.
Guava is popular in drinks, spreads, and syrups. It is a very versatile fruit that has a lot of health benefits that most people don't know about. For example, it can help with eyesight, weight loss, and stress.
Eating rambutan kind of feels like you're eating a very sweet grape that you have to peel to eat. Rambutan is distinct from lychee on the outside because of its shell, but most people don't know the difference when eating the inside.
7. Dragon Fruit
Dragon fruit is one of my favorite fruits to look at, because when I'm eating it, I definitely feel like, "This is as tropical as it gets." It's almost like a fruit you would see in a video game. Dragon fruit contains many seeds so you get a crunch in every bite, and has a consistency similar to a kiwi, but with its own unique taste.
8. Egg Fruit
Egg fruit, also known as canistel, is a native American fruit that can be found in Hawaiʻi. It is often used in Indian and Thai cuisines, and can be made into ice cream and pies. This fruit can be found more commonly on the Big Island of Hawai'i.
9. Star Fruit
You will usually see this fruit at your local farmers' market, mixed with other locally grown fruit, and sold as a fruit plate. There are many ways you can use star fruit, such as serving them by themselves, in cakes, or baking them into chips.
10. Cherimoya (Custard Apple)
Cherimoya has many names, such as sugar apple, custard apple, and atis. The texture is actually nothing like an apple; instead, it has a more soft, grainy texture. You have to work around the seeds in order to get the meat out, like a pomegranate, and it's usually eaten by itself.
Lilikoi is another popular fruit used in drinks and cocktails. On the mainland, it's known as passion fruit. Even though you will find it used in drinks, if you ever have a chance to try it as a butter, I highly recommend it. Spread it on your toast, or even on crepes.
12. Surinam Cherry
Even though the Surinam cherry has the word "cherry" in its name, it is considered a berry. Funnily enough, it doesn't even taste like a berry. Many would compare its flavor to that of a green bell pepper. If you want the bitterness of the fruit to go away, people say all you have to do is cut them open and leave them in the refrigerator for a day or two.
13. Mountain Apples
Even though its features resemble those of an apple, it is not considered a part of the apple family. In fact, many consider it to have a pear-like taste. It can be used and eaten in various ways, such as in jams or juices, pickled, or as a garnish in soups and salads. This fruit can be found in farmers' markets down in Chinatown on O'ahu, on the Big Island, or even on hikes up in the mountains.
The biggest warning I can give you about this fruit: it smells like methane gas and also has its own unique taste and texture. Many have mixed feelings regarding this fruit. Some would say it tastes like onion-flavored custard, and others, a mix of lemon and bananas. You have been warned.
Mangosteens can be a mysterious fruit to many because they can't pinpoint what it tastes like, but some compare it to a mix of strawberries, lychee, vanilla, and peaches. It might be the best-tasting fruit in the world. It's also called a super fruit, as there are many health benefits to eating the meat and the skin.
Next time you go to the farmers' market, you might know a little more about the fruit you're looking at, and have the guts to try them all. Just make sure you have an open mind when trying them, since it might not be what you expect when you take a bite into these tropical fruit.