One of the best things about traveling is exploring the local food culture. A Hawaiian cruise is no exception from your time on board to exploring each port!
Hawaiian cuisine reflects the multicultural history of the land. Thanks to the mix of food brought to the islands from around the world, you’ll find a fusion of Polynesian, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Portuguese and American flavors on the menu.
If you’re headed to Hawaii, get ready to eat. We’ve scoped out five Hawaiian foods you don’t want to miss, beyond the fun Hawaiian treats you’ll find onboard your Norwegian Cruise!
You can’t talk about Hawaiian food without mentioning shave ice. And yes, it’s shave ice — not shaved ice. While it may resemble your typical snow cone, shave ice is a much more delicate frozen treat. That’s because the ice is shaved instead of just crushed. This method produces very fine, snow-like ice flakes.
Choose from a rainbow of syrups, including local flavors like passionfruit (lilikoi), lychee, coconut cream, pineapple and li hing mui (a sweet, salty and tart plum). And don’t forget add-ons like sweetened condensed milk, ice cream, mochi and azuki bean paste for a real treat!
One of the most prevalent snacks you’ll find in Hawaii is Spam musubi. American GIs first introduced the canned meat product to the islands where it has become a local favorite. The popularity of Spam and the influence of Japanese cuisine in Hawaii eventually gave birth to the Spam musubi.
It’s marinated and pan-seared Spam placed over sushi rice and wrapped with nori to make a neat little package full of flavor. It’s a staple in the diet of many Hawaiians. You’ll find them in convenience stores or as a side dish on menus. You’ll even find dedicated musubi cafes!
If you’re a donut fan, you don’t want to miss out on the malasadas. These fluffy, custardy, deep-fried confections were brought to Hawaii by Portuguese immigrant workers, who would make large batches of malasadas on Shrove Tuesday as a way to use up lard and sugar prior to Lent.
Unlike traditional donuts, they don’t have a hole in the center and they’re coated with granulated sugar. Some malasadas are filled with flavored cream or pudding. Get them piping hot from the bakery if you can!
While the acai berry originally comes from the Amazon, the acai bowl has taken hold in Hawaii as a favorite breakfast treat or anytime snack. It’s a super thick smoothie in a bowl, typically made from a blend of acai puree, berries and bananas and topped with anything from granola, fruit and coconut flakes to chia seeds, bee pollen and honey. It’s a great way to pack in all the Hawaiian fresh fruit that your heart desires and to refuel after a morning at the beach or surfing.
Poke is a raw salad that’s served across Hawaii. Originally, poke was used as a way to preserve raw fish and seafood. Similar to ceviche, fish and seafood are roughly chopped into small pieces and marinated with seasonings like salt, sesame oil, kukui nut, seaweed and chili. Today, you’ll find a wide variety poke made from ahi (yellowfin tuna), salmon, octopus and shrimp. And, if you’re wondering how to pronounce poke, it’s “po-kay.”
Diving into the local food culture not only lets you try a new cuisine, but it gives you a different lens into the history and heritage of your destination. There’s so much to explore (and eat!) during your Hawaiian vacation and these five foods are just some of the delectable treats you’ll find on your island visit.