4 well-known foods you think are from Hawaii but actually aren’t


There is no fruit more synonymous with Hawaii than the sweet, yummy, quirky pineapple. But pineapples aren’t native to Hawaii, they’re actually from South America.

So how did they get here? We can’t pinpoint the date, but it was likely brought over from European explorers around 1770. When missionaries later arrived, they spotted them growing in yards and gardens.

Soon after, an entrepreneur named James Drummond Dole envisioned “canned pineapple on every store shelf in America.” The rest is history — in fact, Lanai used to be called the “Pineapple Island” because at one time it produced 75% of the world’s pineapple supply — until you reach present-day Hawaii, where the pineapple industry has been moved out of Hawaii to other countries like the Philippines.


If you’re ever in Hawaii and see a sign for malasadas — stop what you’re doing and get some!

These hot sugared no-hole donuts are some of the most delicious treats you’ll ever try. They arrived to Hawaii in 1878 from Portuguese plantation workers from the Madeira and Azores islands.

By far the most popular malasadas around are the ones from Leonard’s Bakery in Honolulu. On any given day, you’ll see an uncomfortably long line of eager malasadas buyers waiting for their treats. (Tip: if you see the line, keep driving all the way to Hawaii Kai to the Leonard’s food truck for the exact same malasadas but without the wait.)


Hawaii may be the only state in the USA that can grow coffee, but that’s only because of our sub-tropical climate.

Coffee actually orginates from the high slopes of Ethopia. It made its way to Hawaii by way of Brazil in the 1820s — first on Oahu, then on the Big Island.

Like all coffee varieties, each growing location produces a distinct flavor. Hawaiian coffee — most notably Kona coffee — is known for it’s delicate, sweet, fruity flavor profile thanks to humid weather, rich volcanic soil, and the daily cooling cloud cover.

Macadamia nuts

In the same spirit as pineapples, macadamia nuts hold a special association with the Hawaiian Islands, especially when you think about chocolate-covered macadamia nuts.

To set the record straight, however, macadamia nuts are actually native to Australia and were introduced to the Big Island of Hawaii in 1881 by a sugar plantation manager from Scotland named William Herbert Purvis.

Fun fact: mac nut trees take about 7 years to begin producing nuts, which are then harvested from the ground ofter they’ve fallen (not from the tree).

Need a hand with your next Maui vacation? Please contact the Sunny Maui Vacations team at info@sunnymauivacations.com or call 808-240-1311, ext. 21. We’ll find you the best vacation rental condo or rental home in South Maui and help you with any and all recommendations and activities across Maui.

Image credits: Justine Alipateseafan, Phillip Larking, Rodrigo Flores

check-in check-out
close reservations form