You don’t have to have visited Hawaii to be familiar with its delicious dishes, which have been adopted and imitated across the globe. Healthy, sea-fresh bowls of poke; fish tacos; garlic shrimp; shave-ice: these are just a few of the popular items on Hawaii’s menu. Other treats to try here include lesser-known but equally tasty options such as manapua (Chinese pork buns); saimin (noodle soup, which dates back to Hawaii’s plantation era); grilled huli huli chicken, which stars a pineapple, brown sugar and soy sauce; and loco moco: white rice topped with a burger patty, a fried egg and lashings of brown sauce.
Oahu has some excellent versions of Hawaii’s popular shave-ice dessert: try Waiola Shave Ice in Moiliili, Matsumoto Shave Ice in Haleiwa, or Shimazu Store in Honolulu, all of which are popular pit-stops for the snow-cone sugar-hit. Malasadas – a Portuguese-style, hole-free doughnut – are another sugary treat worth saving room for.
There are plenty of casual culinary thrills to be had here, too. Oahu’s edible highlights include the fingerlicking-tasty, frill-free shrimp trucks parked up at Kahuku and Haleiwa; Portuguese-influenced treats at Leonard’s Bakery (stock up on delicious, chewy malasadas here) and Rainbow Drive-In, rumoured to serve the best plate lunches on Oahu. Try a teriyaki beef plate or the satisfyingly carby loco moco.
If you like your meals served surfer-style, swing by Duke’s Barefoot on Kauai – built on the site where Duke kept his canoe – for nachos, surf chats and ice-cold brews. For succulent seafood, stay on Kauai for popular Brennecke’s Beach Broiler restaurant, which aces sea-fresh treats such as ahi sashimi, pupu platters and ahi tuna burgers, served with unforgettable Poipu Beach views. On Big Island, pay Lava Lava Beach Club a visit: sink your teeth into sizzling shrimp and wasabi-dusted fritto misto – and sip a cocktail or three.
Fans of farmers’ markets are in the right place: Hawaii has plenty to explore. Popular choices include Hilo Farmers Markets on the Island of Hawai‘i (Wednesday and Saturday); KCC Farmers Market on Oahu every Saturday; Maui’s Upcountry Farmers Market (Saturday); and the Kauai Culinary Market at Poipu Beach in Kauai. Kauai is also home to several lively fish markets, where you can linger over a just-caught takeaway lunch of succulent seafood, fresh fish, Hawaiian plates and daily specials, or pick up toothsome picnic provisions.
Toast your Hawaiian adventures with Hawaiian cocktails. Barflies should flit to RumFire on Waikiki Beach: the Sheraton’s chic beachside lounge bar, home to coveted fire pits; Duke’s Canoe Club on Oahu, where legendary local wave-maestro Duke Kahanamoku grew up swimming, surfing, canoeing and body-surfing; and Surfer, the Bar, on Oahu’s North Shore, which hosts regular live music nights and surfer-centric events. Prefer wine to cocktails? Don’t miss Maui’s famous pineapple wine, which you can sample in the sunshine at Ulupalakua Vineyards.