“We had the worst time in Hawaii,” said no one ever. With idyllic temperatures, pristine beaches, and a culture steeped in history, Hawaii is one of the best vacation destinations in the world. From snorkeling and sailing to hiking while taking in breathtaking panoramic views and surfing, there is no shortage of activities for singles and families alike. However, what sometimes gets overlooked is just how exquisite the island food is. If you’ve got an upcoming trip there, you might be wondering what kind of cuisine to sample. Read on for seven foods you need to try when you’re in Hawaii.
1. Spam Musubi
If this is as foreign to you as a vegemite sandwich, we must insist that you keep an open mind. A combination of fried Spam, rice, and dried seaweed, this will be the biggest surprise you and your palate will ever have experienced. It is considered culinary gold by those living in Hawaii when it comes to snacks, so if you want to go the authentic route, look no further than this.
2. Shave Ice
Kids will go bonkers for this stuff but, even if you’re traveling sans your littles, this sweet treat is a must. Push from your mind the idea of the traditional snow cone, as this is in a whole new level. As the Huffington Post notes, it is the “most delicious, finely shaven snow cone you’ve ever dreamed of. With syrup flavors like lilikoi, coconut, and li hing mui, this dessert is basically a tropical rave in your mouth.” HuffPo contributor Landress Kearns goes on to note that shave ice pros will add azuki beans, condensed milk, or even ice cream. This is expert level Hawaiian sweet-eating.
3. A Hawaiian Plate
Traditional Hawaiian fare is a must when traveling to this tropical paradise. You’ll be eating like a local as you order a scoop or rice and top it with pork, kalua pig, chicken, laulau, or pipikaula (dried beef). Get lomi salmon and poi on the side and kulolo (taro and coconut cream pudding) for dessert. This will put a pep in your step and a hop in your hula.
4. Poke Bowl
Can we all agree on how to pronounce the word “poke” once and for all? Until then, just eat it, and do so in Hawaii. While poke bowls are sold almost everywhere these days, they’re extra fresh and fantastic on the big island and its many offshoots. A bowl brimming with raw seafood that’s been marinated in the sauce of your choosing and rice, this will hit the spot without making you feel overly full. The most common one of these is the ahi poke bowl, which is made with yellow fin tuna. Their poke is no joke (jokie?). Sorry, just had to.
Coming from the landlocked state of Colorado, Frontier Properties CEO, Nick Evans, says this is his top priority every time he visits Hawaii.
“I get my lei, take a sip of my lava flow, and head to the nearest place to get an authentic poke bowl,” Evans gushes. “You might think I’m kidding but I’m not. Try one of these at a place that’s known for it the next time you go to Hawaii, and you’ll put this at the top of your list, too.”