Compared to what you would find in a mainland grocery store, fruit on the Big Island is like candy. Hawaii’s growing season lasts all year, giving residents plenty of opportunities to find delectable fruits at local farmer’s markets and fruit stands. Yes, Hawai’i is famous for the pineapple. However, I promise you the Big Island has so much more to offer beyond the pineapple. Upon arriving on the Big Island I highly recommend checking the farmer’s market schedule to get farm-fresh, local fruit.
Discuss with the farmers what is fresh and in season and any new varieties or recipes to try. You’ll get invaluable local knowledge of the many options and methods to enjoy Hawaii’s treats. Many Hawaiian residents love planting fruit trees in the fertile Big Island soil and picking their fruit themselves. Whether growing yourself or heading to the farmer’s market, here are a few must-have Hawaiian fruits.
Probably not what you were expecting! However, island-grown tomatoes aren’t even in the same realm as what you would find in a normal grocery store. Vine-ripened tomatoes are already an incredible burst of flavor but you’ll find a sweeter variety on the Big Island at some of the best restaurants. Keep your eye out for this offering or head to a few tomato farms on the Big Island to buy some directly from the source.
This might seem like a commonplace fruit but it is anything but in Hawai’i. There are over 200 varieties of avocado grown in Hawai’i. Yes, you read that right. Over 200. The first thing you’ll notice about Hawaii’s avocados is their size. The excellent soils and favorable climate on the Big Island result in significantly larger fruits. Oftentimes you’ll find one avocado large enough for an entire bowl of guacamole. September through April is typically the best time to purchase avocados on the Big Island.
Formally called Ohi’a ‘ai. This shiny fruit was originally brought to the islands by Polynesian settlers. It has an apple-like texture paired with a mildly sweet and delectable flavor. Very commonly grown on the humid Hamakua Coast. You’ll commonly see them in fruit bins and farmer’s markets during summer all the way through fall. Hawaiian apple trees are a very popular garden tree as well because they tend to grow in bunches. This makes them an excellent gift for neighbors since they grow in numbers.
Lilikoi (Passion Fruit)
Lilikoi is an extremely diverse fruit that inspires many creations on the Big Island. I assure you passion fruit margaritas or cocktails are a thing of beauty. The flavor ranges from mildly tart to sweet and it explodes in growth during the summer months. Very often the seeds throw people off but the locals scoop out the entire inside for consumption. Or they take inside as the base for ingredients. Its diversity can be seen in the various ice creams, sauces, and even Lilikoi butters that you’ll find on the Big Island.
This list is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to fruits on the Big Island. I recommend heading to farmer’s markets and fruit stands for a conversation about what is in season and growing well. Don’t be shy and give everything a taste despite its rare or unconventional appearance. You never know what flavors you will discover.