Hawaii sits deep in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, so its history has long depended on getting life from the sea. As you can imagine, this gives islanders access to a ton of delicious seafood, and there are many types of fish that you can only get in Hawaii. It’s very challenging to make a list of the best fish you can eat in the islands because, let’s be honest, they’re all delicious! However, here are some local specialties that you definitely have to taste while in Hawaii.
This is actually the yellowfin tuna, but the Hawaiian name of ahi seems to have spread around the world – along with the popularity of the fish. It’s most often served grilled, but it’s also normal to find it served raw (in the form of sushi or sashimi). Restaurants all over the island serve this juicy red treat.
Aku is similar to ahi, as this one is the Hawaiian name for skipjack tuna. These are significantly smaller than ahi, but the more compact package contains much more flavor!
This is a great name for a fish, but the boring English name is Hawaiian sea bass. This species is only seen in the waters around the Hawaiian Islands, so it’s something of a local specialty. It’s a mild and delicate fish, and it’s often it’s often served steamed.
Here is a case where the Hawaiian name is less dramatic, and the English title for this fish is shortbill spearfish. It can be white or pink colored, and it has a fairly mild flavor. It’s most popular for restaurants to grill this fish, but you can also find it served raw as well (as it is slightly more flavorful than ahi).
While a crab isn’t technically a fish, this is a type of seafood that you don’t want to miss. These sand dwellers have sweet and tender meat inside of them, and they’re often served steamed. The fishing season is strictly regulated, so don’t pass on a chance to try them!
You’ve probably seen this fish sold all around the world, but you might not have realized that this is its Hawaiian name! It’s a rare case where that became the international title for it. However, the fish that you get in Hawaii are of a significantly higher quality than what you’ll be able to find in other places, so make sure to try one when in Kauai. Chefs have to be careful to not overcook the light pink flesh, but it’s delicate flavors are really nice when properly prepared.
This deep-water fish is more commonly known as the sickle pomfret. It has a really firm texture, but a light (almost transparent) color. Also, it contains a lot of oil, so it’s most delicious when grilled or broiled.
This fish is often called nairagi, but the Hawaiian name is actually a’u, and it’s a striped marlin in English. Interestingly, it has a pretty diverse range of colors, and it can go from light pink to an orange-red color. The different colors are cooked multiple ways, but this is another that is popular to serve raw.
Onaga is the most commonly used name for this fish, but it’s actually Japanese. In Hawaiian, the fish is called `Ula`ula koa`e, and it’s the red snapper in English. It has a soft and moist flesh that is pink in color, and it’s often served raw. This fish is traditionally served at cultural celebrations like weddings and New Year’s parties.
Ono is the Hawaiian word for “good to eat,” but this fish is also known by the fun name of wahoo. They have really light meat with low fat content, so they have to be cooked in a way that won’t dry them out. The mild flavors do well when grilled.
This creature is more commonly known as moonfish. Also, it has three different colors and flavors around its body, so it can be cooked multiple different ways to still be delicious.
A more mainland name for this fish is pink snapper, but it’s rather strange because its color is actually brown. They have different flavors and characteristics depending on what time of the year they’re caught, so they can be baked, put in soup, served as sashimi, or prepared numerous other ways.
This fish is also called the blue-green snapper. It’s yet another one that has clear, pink meat, and it’s really nice to eat raw as sashimi.
Are You Ready to Eat?
Of course, this list doesn’t contain all of the amazing fish you can get in Kauai – it’s really just some of the favorites. But, whether you want to catch them yourself or head to a nice restaurant, it’s going to take a long time before you have to eat the same one twice!