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Food Culture in Hawaii

With our bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables, abundant upland cattle farms and Pacific Ocean waters teeming with sashimi-grade fish, Hawaiian cuisine is a beautiful tapestry of flavors and traditions. Here, ancient customs meet global influences brought to Hawaii over many generations, giving our local food culture more layers than a Maui onion. From farm-to-table Hawaii Regional Cuisine to traditional feasts fit for ke alii (royalty), you’ll find delicious culinary treasures on every Hawaiian island.
 
Oahu, known as The Gathering Place, is nothing short of a foodie paradise, and in the past few years Honolulu has emerged as one of the major culinary meccas in the U.S. Stroll through foodie ’hoods like Kakaako, Kaimuki and Chinatown to discover a melting pot of trendy eateries and mom-and-pop diners dishing up local specialties like plate lunch and loco moco (white rice topped with a hamburger patty, fried egg and brown gravy). From downtown Honolulu to Waikiki, book a table at one of the iconic fine-dine restaurants that put Hawaiian cuisine on the map, including Roy’s and Chef Mavro.
 
If your travels take you to Kauai, assemble an epic Hawaiian-style picnic at the island’s famed sunshine markets, and treat yourself to a memorable meal at hotspots like Merriman’s or Eating House 1849. Maui’s mix of roadside food stands and gourmet restaurants is enhanced by the abundant produce grown in the island’s Kula region. The island of Hawaii offers dining choices as diverse as its landscapes; just remember to finish your meal with a cup of homegrown Kona coffee. And don’t let the smaller populations of Lanai and Molokai fool you: these deeply rooted islands serve up tons of local flavor – from pillowy doughnuts and fresh bread at Kanemitsu’s Bakery in Kaunakakai to high-end sushi from celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa at Nobu Lanai.

Food festivals throughout the Hawaiian Islands showcase our local food scenes. Prestigious events like the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival and Kapalua Wine & Food Festival gather top-notch chefs, sommeliers and winemakers from around Hawaii (and the world). From poi to pancakes, learn all about the “staff of life” at the East Maui Taro Festival, and sample a real Hawaiian delicacy in all its forms at the Waikiki Spam Jam. The Kona Coffee Cultural Festival is good to the last drop, while beloved events like the Maui Onion Festival, Lanai Pineapple Festival and Kauai Coconut Festival pay homage to our local crops. 
 
Speaking of celebrated chefs, you can even dine at restaurants run by two former Top Chef contestants: Lee Anne Wong’s Koko Head Café in Honolulu and fan-favorite Sheldon Simeon’s Tin Roof in Kahului, Maui. And of course, a trip to Hawaii isn’t complete without experiencing the sensory delights of an authentic luau – nightly celebrations of our islands’ rich culture and cuisine that are nothing short of ono (delicious).

Farm-to-Table Hawaii

Farms and Agriculture

Each Hawaiian Island has its own agricultural region, from Upcountry Maui to the rich volcanic soil on the island of Hawaii. Pay a visit to our many farms and ranches to see our farm-to-table traditions in action.

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Farmers Markets

Sweet lilikoi (passion fruit). Succulent pineapples. Even fresh-baked banana bread and local macadamia nuts. Held just about every day of the week, Hawaii's farmers markets give new meaning to the word "fresh."

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Hawaii Regional Cuisine

The farm-to-table philosophy is central to Hawaii’s defining cuisine. Founded by 12 pioneering chefs, Hawaii Regional Cuisine uses fresh island ingredients – including locally caught fish and more fruits and vegetables than you can name – to create an exciting fusion of flavors.

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Hawaiian Luau

No trip to Hawaii is complete without attending one of these traditional celebrations of food and culture. Feast on kalua pork cooked in an imu (underground oven), laulau (beef, pork, chicken or fish wrapped in taro leaves) and poi (taro starch) while hula dancers tell stories through their graceful movements. 

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Explore Food in Hawaii

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Pupus and mai tais
Kauai
Tasting Kauai
Summary

Tasting Kauai invites residents and visitors on a culinary romp through paradise. Learn how to buy local through educational and fun events while connecting with Kauai’s culture, aloha, people and land. A portion of all book and tour sales are donated to the Hawaii Food Bank - Kauai Branch.

Websites
Manta ray
Hawaii
Kona Ocean Experience
78-7130 Kaleiopapa St
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
Summary

Kona Ocean Experience offers quality small group boat excursions to interact with/observe dolphins, whales, manta rays & other amazing marine life, snorkel above the reefs in the pristine waters of Kealakekua Bay, learn about Hawaiian Culture, folklore & history of the beautiful Kona Coast area.

Websites
Silver Falls Ranch
Kauai
Silver Falls Ranch
2888 Kamookoa Road
Kalihiwai Ridge
Kilauea, HI 96754
Summary

Beginner or expert riders will enjoy the pristine beauty of the secluded location. Up-close mountain views, lush botanicals. Picnic beneath a palm thatched hut and swim at a waterfall. No hiking required. An unforgettable horseback experience.

Websites
Tradewinds1
Oahu
Maita'i Catamaran
2255 Kalakaua Ave, Ste 3404
Boards all sails on the beach behind the Sheraton Waikiki
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

Waikiki Beach sailing catamaran. Tradewind Sails $39, Sunset Maitai Sail $49 includes drinks, Mahina Moonlight Sail $49 includes drinks. Special child rates! Charters, parties, groups welcome! Boards all sails on the beach behind the Sheraton Waikiki.

Websites
Rainbows
Hawaii
Paniolo Adventures
Mile 13.2, Kohala Mountain Road (Highway 250)
Kohala, HI 96743
Summary

Daily "open range" rides over 11,000-acre working cattle ranch on historic Kohala Mountain. Lush pasture, native woods and spectacular views of the coastline and peaks. Marvel at the ancient Hawaiian ruins where King Kamehameha once trained his warriors.

Websites
Farm overhead
Hawaii
Honokaa Chocolate Co.
45-3584 Old Mamalahoa Highway
Honokaa, HI 96727
Summary

Kahi Ola Mau Farm is the home of Honoka'a Chocolate Co. Located just mauka of the historic plantation town of Honoka'a, we offer farm tours and tastings of the small-batch artisan chocolates that we make on-site in our farm store, made from cacao beans from around the globe, including Hawaii.

Websites
Snorkel Adventures!
Hawaii
Kona Ocean Adventures
74-380 Kealakehe Pkwy
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
Summary

With Kona Ocean Adventures we are not just another tour but a true adventure every time you step aboard our boats. Boutique outfit: Snorkeling, Scuba Diving, whale watching, sunset cruise, manta ray night snorkel and dive. You have come to the right place! Private charters are our specialty.

Websites
Kalulu
Lanai
Lana'i Ocean Sports
MANELE SMALL BOAT HARBOR
Lanai City, HI 96763
Summary

Lana'i Ocean Sports is committed to excellence by creating lifelong memories through personalized service delivered with Aloha. As stewards and sailors, we perpetuate our Hawaiian culture and protect our environment. As an ‘Ohana, we value each other and inspire integrity, innovation, and community.

Websites