An Insider’s Guide To Hawaii’s Big Island Cuisine

If you’re planning a getaway to Hawaii’s Big Island and have been looking for an insider’s scoop on this tropical paradise’s diverse, flavorful cuisine, look no further. This article will delve into all the island offers regarding delicious food so you can add some extra flare and adventure to your trip! From classic local favorites such as poke bowls or Kalua pork dishes to trendy new flavors like Hawaiian shaved ice concoctions or locally-sourced seafood plates with farmers’ market vegetables — read on for an insider guide to Big Island Cuisine!

What Makes Big Island Cuisine So Unique?


Big Island cuisine is truly unique and something to savor. With its heavy reliance on locally-sourced ingredients, from the bounty of the land and sea, and its embrace of traditional cooking methods, the flavors of Big Island fare are tantalizingly complex and deeply satisfying. Something about tasting the aloha that has been crafted into each meal gives it special magic.

With influences from Hawaiian, Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino cuisines merging across all different types of dishes, there’s always something new and exciting to experience with each bite. Big Island cuisine is an absolute must for those looking to try something new and explore true culinary artistry.

Guide To Hawaii’s Big Island Cuisine

It would take endless time to cover all the amazing dishes this island has to offer, so here is a brief overview of some must-try dishes when visiting the Big Island. These are typically available year-round and can be found at restaurants or food trucks.

Poke Bowls


Poke bowls have become a popular trend in Hawaii and are enjoyed by locals, tourists, and everyone. On the Big Island of Hawaii, there are many places to get poke bowls made with the freshest ingredients. Whether you’re up for some spicy Ahi tuna or want something with a unique twist, like a salmon cucumber bowl, your taste buds won’t be disappointed with the variety of options.

The bright colors and flavors in each poke bowl make them Instagram-worthy dishes that look delicious and taste amazing too! With their textures and flavors, Hawaiian poke bowls provide a unique culinary experience that can give any traditional dish a run for its money.

Shave Ice


If you are lucky enough to vacation on the Big Island of Hawaii, do yourself a favor and try the local favorite: shave ice! Not to be confused with snow cones, which have coarsely shaved ice bits and giant flavor crystals, Hawaiian shaved ice is finely textured, almost like eating snowfall. Including syrups made from local fruits, such as guava and mango, gives it a unique sweet profile.

Shave ice stands are standard throughout the island, so you won’t have to look far for one serving of a delicious and refreshing treat. Depending on your preference, you can also find shaved ice creations with more adventurous flavors like lychee or even bubble tea-flavored! No matter what kind of shaved ice you try, it will cool you down when the island heat gets too hot!

Loco Moco


The famous and delicious Loco Moco dish originates from the Big Island of Hawaii. It consists of white rice, hamburger patty, fried egg, and a rich, brown gravy – it’s no wonder Loco Moco is so popular with travelers and locals alike. It may look like a simple meal – but the combination of flavors makes this dish anything but ordinary.

Considering the simplicity of its ingredients, it’s incredible how something so basic can be transformed into a spicy delight that satisfies your cravings! A plateful of Loco Moco will leave you feeling sated and with a taste that lingers on your tongue long after each delicious bite.

Kalua Pork


Eating kalua pork on the island is an experience like no other. This traditional Hawaiian dish has been prepared in the islands for many generations by a unique cooking method that involves slowly roasting pork in an underground oven called an imu. The pig is then seasoned and cooked further with various flavored liquids to give it its signature smoky flavor and texture.

Once it’s ready, you can find kalua pork served as part of laulau, a traditional plate lunch featuring several dishes at once. Unsurprisingly, kalua pork is beloved for its mouthwatering flavors and surprisingly tender texture. Moreover, it’s a perfect dish to sample when exploring the big island’s vibrant culture and culinary offerings.

Furikake Chicken


The big island of Hawaii is home to many unique culinary delights, and furikake chicken is one of them! This favorite local dish combines shoyu, rice vinegar, and mirin to give its flavorful marinade an added kick. It’s then completed with Furikake, a Japanese seasoning made from seaweed, sesame seeds, and other ingredients.

The result is chicken that’s juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside with just the right hint of sweetness. Wherever you go in Hawaii, make sure to try some furikake chicken – its subtle yet delicious flavor will be sure to leave you wanting more!

Spam Musubi


Spam Musubi, a delicious snack of grilled teriyaki-simmered Spam atop a bed of seasoned rice wrapped in a band of nori seaweed, has become an iconic delicacy on the big island of Hawaii. Thought to have originated in the 1940s when Spam was introduced to Hawaii Marines during World War II, this treat quickly rose in popularity and can now be found everywhere, from convenience stores to fast food restaurants.

The dish has several different versions, including one made with bacon-fried cabbage instead of the classic slice of Spam. Whatever form you choose, however, will satisfy your taste buds as you explore Hawaii’s splendor and beauty!



A tour of big island cuisine is only complete with the sweet and savory treat of malasadas. These slightly crispy yet doughy delicacies entice locals and tourists alike to indulge their taste buds in the traditional Portuguese-style donuts, rolled in cinnamon sugar and bursting with a cream or fruit filling. From roadside sellers to brick-and-mortar stores, malasadas can be found anywhere around the island.

Its popularity is no surprise given its unique taste that you can only find in these parts — just one bite will have your mouth watering for more! Making them even more remarkable is their history as a representation of an amalgamation of cultures between Portuguese immigrants and Hawaiians — indeed, an unforgettable eating experience from the islands!

Big Island Cuisine Is Something You Don’t Want To Miss!

The big island of Hawaii is home to various unique, delicious dishes that bring together the flavors and cultures of many different people. From kalua pork to malasadas, there’s something for everyone on this paradise island! So if you’re ever in the area, remember to sample some of the delicious big island cuisine! Whether you’re a local or simply visiting, embracing its culinary delights is sure to be an unforgettable experience.

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