4 out of this world tropical fruit varieties you must try in Hawaii

One of the biggest things I notice when I’m on the mainland has to do with the universally-loved, ultra-versatile, super-nourishing…banana.

In nearly all the markets I frequent when I’m on the mainland (i.e., Safeway, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods) offer one type of banana — you know which one — the long firm yellow Cavendish with the blue “Chiquita” sticker on them.

And don’t get me started with those long, withered, not-so-sweet papayas from somewhere far, far away. Same story with the mangoes.

We’re all familiar with these fruits, but if Cavendish bananas and sad papayas and mangoes are the only tropical fruits you know, then you’re in for a pleasant surprise. Hawaii is home to dozens of tasty banana, papaya, and mango varieties.

We’ve chosen the top 4 here to highlight:

Apple banana

Small and portable, the apple banana is the most commonly loved and eaten banana across Hawaii. You’ll find them at all supermarkets and farmers markets (unless sold out), and of course — growing on banana trees.

Compared to the average Cavendish, the apple banana ranges from slightly tart to much sweeter, with a creamy texture. They are a true pleasure to eat.

Ice cream banana

Slightly shorter slightly fatter than its apple variety cousin is the Blue Java banana, aka ice cream banana.

Chances are you can guess what they taste like — ice cream! — which means they work well for dessert, notably this one-ingredient ice cream.

Strawberry papaya

If you’ve spent any time in Latin America or Southeast Asia, you’ll notice the papayas there are rather long and mildly sweet. Hawaii-grown papayas are much smaller but also much sweeter.

Now, when you go to buy papayas, make sure you get sunrise papayas, aka strawberry papayas. These varieties are usually greenish on the outside, but have a salmon-colored fruit inside that’s total heaven.

Whit pirie mango

Mangoes are, IMHO, the fruit of the gods — sweet, sensual, succulent, sticky, and delicious beyond comprehension.

To be fair, not all mangoes are created equal. Some varieties are on the dry side, or the stringy side, or the bland side.

But not the white pirie mango. The fruit is described as “fiberless, juicy, melting, and sweet.” Melting!

Tip: pick white pirie mangos off the tree when they’re 50% yellow and 50% green.

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Image credits: Bon Vivant, mylilikoikitchen.com, starr-environmental, Studio Kealaula,

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