Island-Hopping: The Best (And Tastiest) Way to Spend Your Summer

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Let’s be honest, you can never get enough Hawaii, even as a resident.  The weather is gorgeous, the people are kind and generous, the sights are unexplainably beautiful, and, of course, the cuisine is impeccable.  These days, Hawaiian ‘island-hopping’ cruises have become extremely popular with mainlanders.  Have you ever thought of exploring the islands you live on, via a cruise?

A cruise from island to island may even open your eyes to the different climates, beaches and local cuisine out there. Here is our guide to the cuisine of Hawaii. Make sure to experience as many of these delicacies as possible on your cruise around the 50th state.


O’ahu “The Gathering Place”:

Easy Chai Tea: an herbal tea enjoyed by many which includes clove, cinnamon, peppercorn, ginger root, loose leaf black tea, brown sugar, and milk.

Laulau:  a steamy, succulent bundle of fish (hopefully mahi-mahi), chicken, and pork or beef wrapped in taro leaves.  This tasty wrap-like meal includes 3 meats, seasoning, and taro leaves.  It is wrapped up tight and then steamed lightly for a few hours. 

Hawai’i “The Big Island” :

Kona Coffee:  Kona coffee is well-known to be some of the tastiest and most flavorful coffee in the world.  Throw in some fresh raw sugar and you’ve got yourself a cup o’ joe.  Make sure your cruise leaves time for a trip to the Hilo Coffee Mill, where you can get yourself a farm tour and coffee tasting for only ten bucks!

Loco Moco:  includes egg, meat patty, rice and gravy.  This traditional Maui food is one of the more healthy options on the island.  So, if you are looking for a nice lighter lunch after all the succulent, rich food, Loco Moco is the way to go.  Bloggers rave about Hawaiian Style Cafe in Waimea, so check the excursion itinerary for your cruise and see if you can make a stop there.

Shaved Ice:  simple, yet delicious dessert.  Hawaiian-style shave ice is dotted on the outside with sweet red azuki beans, which have a taffy-like texture and really amp up the flavor.

Kaua’i “The Garden Isle”:

Hawaiian Spiny Lobster:  anyone from the islands knows about this delicacy.  Grilled and basted with butter, these sweet and delicious lobsters will knock your socks off.  These types of lobsters have more meat and live in cleaner water than New England lobsters, as you well know.  In a rush to get back to the ship?  Stop in at the Deli & Bread Connection in Lihue for their lobster roll, trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

Guava Jam: a spread made from the guava fruit.  This is an unbelievable treat that can be enjoyed in a number of ways.  My suggestion is to wake up to a nice breakfast of Kona coffee and toast with a hefty spread of guava jam to start the day right.  Don’t forget to scoop up a bottle for the road from the Culinary Market in Poipu.

Maui Tacos' Famous Fish Tacos
Maui Tacos’ Fish Tacos–Courtesy of Dayna Wolf

Poke: mainly ahi tuna (or octopus), raw, mixed with limu.  Limu is seafood, seasonings, sesame seed, and oil.  This fresh dish is prepared in a number of different ways, with different sauces and seasonings.  You may get the opportunity to eat this on each island, but while you’re at the Maui port, you will have the opportunity to eat some poke from Foodland Market in Lahaina, which was voted Hawaii’s Best Poke!

Fish Tacos:  everyone loves a nice fish taco and Hawaii has their own twist on the dish.  They contain chunks of flaky mahi-mahi combined with fresh fruit salsa; you can even order them spicy if you please.  To the right, you will see some of Maui’s most famous fish tacos depicted.  These tasty treats are from the Lahain’a location of Maui Tacos (in the Kamaole Beach Center), which is a very popular restaurant chain with nine restaurants across three islands.

Lana’i “The Pineapple Isle” :

Note:  Lana’i is known for its mix of native Hawaiian culinary influence with oriental cooking influence.

Poi: a sticky paste made from the taro plant.  Poi is an essential part of Hawaiian cuisine and culture  (if Poi is on the table, those surrounding it should never argue or contend with one another, as it represents ancestors and family).  While cruising the islands, don’t forget to get your poi fix.  You may have a favorite, but to try something new, see if you can find a Poi pounding class for some stress relief and fun while docked in Lana’i.

Chicken Katsu: a simple chicken cutlet dish, in which the chicken cutlets are breaded in panko and then tossed in a sauce of choice.  This dish traditionally comes with onions and mushrooms, and makes for a nice dinner, but many people like to put their own spin on it.  It has a touch of the oriental influence discussed earlier.  The sauce is a mixture of Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, sugar, salt, chicken bouillon, pepper, garlic, and tabasco, and really takes the chicken to the next level.  Take the family to the Blue Ginger Café for an off-ship dinner, and a cheap and extremely tasty way try a new take on the ever-popular Katsu.

There you have it, a quick look at the delectable cuisine you can experience on an island-hopping cruise.  Each island has a diverse selection of food, so make the best of your cruise and give your taste buds a ride!  What’s your favorite Hawaiian cuisine?  Got a favorite style of Poke?  Sound off in the comments below.

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