Skip to primary navigation Skip to content Skip to footer
Back to Captain's Blog

What is the Best Food in Maui to Eat on Vacation?

The tropical island of Maui is home to some wonderful sights and is a premier destination for ultimate relaxation. Many come here for the sandy beaches and crystal clear waters, which make them great for swimming and water sports like snorkeling. The laid back island of Maui is also a great spot to taste all of the traditional flavors of Hawaii thanks to several fantastic restaurants. Check out some dining options that you absolutely need to try on your next trip below!

The Local Cuisine of Hawaii

When you think of Hawaiian cuisine, what comes to mind? You might think of pineapple, spam, and fresh fish – and you wouldn’t be wrong at all! At the same time, the tropical islands are home to much more than just that when it comes to dining on delicious food. The island of Maui is perfect for finding a traditional luau, a feast that showcases several tasty dishes native to Hawaii!

Traditional Meat Dishes

There is a wide variety of food you can find that is traditionally Hawaiian. The base for these dishes (the protein) is not that different from food that you might already know, but the preparation, spices, sauces, and accompanying side dishes are what make the food look, smell, and taste like Maui, Hawaii. 

One of the most iconic dishes of any luau is Kalua roast pork. This dish is prepared by roasting a whole pig in a stone-lined oven built underground. If not a whole pig, then sometimes just the pork butt is used and covered with banana leaves to cook. The pork is left to slowly roast all day long, which produces wonderfully tender and moist pulled pork that just melts in your mouth!

To pair with the pork, a dish known as chicken long rice is also included. This dish is almost exactly what it sounds like; chicken mixed with long rice. Ginger and green onions are typically added to give it some extra flavor. Chicken long rice isn’t native to Maui or Hawaii, but it is often found at a luau simply because of how well it pairs with other foods served at one!

Ultra Fresh Seafood

Before the main meal comes, you’ll see some vibrant ahi poke. To understand this dish, you should first know what both words mean. Ahi refers to the type of fish used, which is yellowfin tuna, something the islands are well known for. Poke simply means small cuts. So Maui ahi poke is basically small cuts of raw yellowfin tuna. But then this fresh fish is marinated in sauce and spices that make this appetizer really pop!

Many luaus also feature mahi-mahi. This silly looking fish is a dolphinfish and makes for a delicious meal! They are found in abundance around Maui, meaning that they are extremely fresh. Mahi-mahi is typically cooked in a skillet and features a sweet marinade to give the fish some amazing flavor. Honey, garlic, sesame seeds, and butter are four key components of making Maui mahi-mahi. 

Tasty Side Dishes

Savory meat and fish platters are certainly exciting, but what fun is that without some sides? One iconic luau side dish actually features fish and is known as lomi salmon. It is actually nearly identical to pico de gallo, which is an ultra fresh “salsa” made with tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and occasionally peppers. What makes lomi salmon different is that small chunks of fresh salmon are also added and it is eaten like a salad!

If you do eat at any Maui restaurants, then you will definitely see a thick purple paste known as poi. This is made from ground taro root, which is fairly similar to a sweet potato in terms of taste and more like a mashed potato when it comes to texture. It also has a hint of sourness due to the fermented nature of the dish.

Classic Desserts

The main foods found in Hawaiian restaurants are certainly delightful, but they wouldn’t be complete without some tropical desserts to complete the meal! Fortunately, Maui restaurants have several excellent options that you won’t typically find elsewhere. Most sweets found on the island feature a variety of tropical fruits (think pineapple, mango, guava, lychee, coconut, and even banana). Macadamia nuts and chocolate are two other common ingredients.

Arguably the most popular Maui dessert you can find is shave ice. This refreshing treat is quite similar to a snow cone, but there are two key differences between the two ice-based desserts. Snow cones are made using crushed ice, which creates denser ice. Shave ice on the other hand is made with shaved ice, which makes it extremely light and lets it melt in your mouth. 

The other difference is that the syrup flavors used in shave ice are often quite exotic and are unlike anything you can find in a snow cone. If you try shave ice then you will know that there is a huge difference and will likely never look for a snow cone again!

Pair Some Fun With Your Maui Eats!

Taking a vacation to Maui is definitely a treat for yourself and the whole family. Not only are the beaches lovely and the vibe relaxed, but you can also enjoy some delicious traditional Hawaiian food at the restaurants. If you’re looking for meat based dishes, then you can’t go wrong with some Kalua roast pork or chicken long rice. For something lighter, ahi poke or mahi-mahi will give you a nice jolt of fresh seafood. Your side dish options typically include lomi salmon and some iconic poi. Don’t forget to try some of the tropical sweets around Maui and savor some shave ice before you go!

Eating is definitely a highlight of any vacation, but you might feel a little bored if you don’t plan any extra recreation. One of the most enjoyable activities in Maui is taking to the water for some leisurely snorkeling! With all of the glorious fish to see, scheduling a snorkeling tour is a fantastic way to ensure that you see as much as possible. Check out all of the snorkeling tours offered by Kai Kanani today to get an idea of what you have to look forward to!

  • Posted in: