Just as other unique fare has worked its way into the cuisine of Hawaii, there are types of candies and sweets here that can be found in few other places around the world. With influences from cultures both Eastern and Western, and incorporating local ingredients and flavors, satisfying your sweet tooth in Hawaii is a fun and adventurous past time. Here are the 9 best candy stores in Hawaii!
Mochi, a small, sweet rice cake pounded into a smooth paste and then formed into a ball, is a traditional Japanese sweet that is also a local favorite in Hawaii. One of the best places to sample this traditional confection is Nisshodo Candy Store in Honolulu. Asataro Hirao moved to Hawaii from Hiroshima about nine years ago and opened this shop, which his family continues to run today. You can try several flavors, with some popular options being the Chi Chi Dango (plain sweet mochi), Habutai (mochi with sweet beans), and Daifuku (mochi with sweet black beans). Averaging about $1 per piece or $7.50 per pound, you can try several varieties or bring some to your next get together!
Apparently, for those that grew up in Hawaii, visiting the local crack seed store to see how much your allowance would get you was a rite of passage. Crack seed is a category of snack foods that originated in China and eventually migrated to other regions, including Hawaii. Crack seed snacks are preserved fruits that have been cracked to partially expose the seed as flavor enhancement. Along with crack seed, you can also get amazing shaved ices in a variety of flavors on a hot day.
Lin’s Hawaiian Snacks is another traditional crack seed shop with crack seed, sweet and savory snacks and the requisite shaved ice. Here, the specialties are the mango shaved ice topped with ice cream and fresh mango chunks and crack seed staples like plum, lemon and mango, along with salty strawberry, papaya, and cherry. You can also find traditional boba tea (flavored teas served with large, chewy tapioca balls in the bottom).
Big Island Candies has one location in the Ala Moana shopping center, a high visibility candy store with lots of gift baskets and boxes appealing to tourists on vacation. The flagship store is located on the Big Island in Hilo. The specialties here are chocolate and baked goods, more upscale fare for those looking for something special. There are plenty of free samples to enjoy while you browse, and the quality is always stellar. Known for their dipped shortbreads, you can try anything from white chocolate dipped lemon shortbread to Kona mocha dipped shortbread. Get a gift box with brownies, cookies or biscotti, try a wide variety of chocolates, or get experimental with local favorites like Li Hing Mui cookies or chocolate dipped mochi balls.
Made using only Guittard chocolate, at the Donkey Balls store and factory, you can see the chocolates being made right in front of you and there are plenty of free samples to test! The names are slightly cheeky, which adds a curious charm to these unique treats. Try spicy Numb Nuts, Hawaiian macadamia nuts covered in dark chocolate and pure habanero extract, or Salty Donkey Balls, Hawaiian macadamia nuts covered in chocolate and rolled in sea salt.
The Hawaii Fudge Company specializes in varieties of fudge, toffee, caramel and taffy, all made locally. Favorites include the Road to Hana, a take on Rocky Road with marshmallows, caramel and macadamia nuts, and the Lava Flow, a brightly colored concoction with strawberry ribbons throughout. The staff will give you samples of fudge and taffy to taste and there are gift boxes as well to take home to friends and loved ones.
More ice cream shop than candy shop, this is one of the few places on Moloka’i to get your sweet tooth satisfied. The ice creams are super smooth and come in a unique variety of local flavors like green tea, ube (purple sweet potato), taro, lychee, and more. There are a variety of other snacks, both savory and sweet, but the ice creams are the real draw here.
Located at the historic Kilohana Plantation, this sweets shop has an assortment of baked goods, caramels, chocolates and frozen treats to choose from. You can order these items from the website, split into categories of barks, truffles and caramels. You can also reach out to the staff about special events to have treats supplied for your guests.
The Kauai Chocolate Shop is family owned and operated and is located at Port Allen on the island of Kauai. Chocolates and treats are made in house and range from tropical truffles to local favorites like the famous Chocolate Opihi—a shortbread cookie with a layer of caramel and a whole macadamia nut, dipped entirely in chocolate. If you’re feeling adventurous, there are occasionally truffles made with ghost peppers. Depending on the time of day that you stop in, you can see the chocolates being made on the production line right in front of you!