Hawaiian Pineapple

Hawaiian Pineapple Fresh from Vacation + Hawaiian Pizza

We’re waiting for the next round of cheap flights to Hawaii from Hawaiian Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and Alaska Airlines. In the meantime, let’s eat Hawaiian pineapple with today’s tips. Even on Pizza (read on for that).

How to Bring Hawaiian Pineapple to the Mainland.

If you would like to take pineapples home with you on your Hawaii vacation, which we highly recommend, here’s good news and the current official update. You do not need to purchase pineapples at the airport or at the Dole Plantation. Unlike papayas, which require certification and treatment with gas, with pineapples you’re free to shop around for the best quality and price and bring them in your carry-on bags.

So long as pineapples are in good condition (no holes, bruises or bugs), agriculture inspectors will not care whether you bought them at an airport store or from a local farmers market (which we personally recommend).

Hawaii Pineapples are not the only Approved Food Items for Exporting.

Coconuts are fine too. Here’s the complete and current list of do’s and don’ts from the US Department of Agriculture for travelers from Hawaii to the U.S. Mainland.

Peak Season for Hawaii Pineapple is Summer.

With spring now half over, summer isn’t far off. And that’s the peak of Hawaiian pineapple season. Did you know that to grow pineapple at home, you can simply place the crown on the ground. These make beautiful albeit thorny plants which (at least here in Hawaii) produce pineapples in two years. There are many pineapple varieties with the cayenne type being most common. White reduced acid sugar loaf pineapple is also a popular treat.

Hawaiian Pizza in the News

Pizza with pineapple (fresh from Hawaii or otherwise) and Canadian bacon, is called Hawaiian Pizza. Said to have actually originated from Canada rather than Hawaii, it is apparently a love it or hate it affair. The controversy began with a tweet about it a couple of years ago that resulted in hundreds of thousands of  retweets. Let’s just say that pineapple wasn’t fresh from Hawaii. Following that, Iceland’s pizza-loving president created another internet fire when he indicated he’s “fundamentally opposed” to Hawaiian pizza and would outlaw it if he could. Tongue in cheek.

If you didn’t know, Hawaii’s agriculture protection and quarantine program has been in effect since 1888. King Kalakaua implemented it originally to protect the Hawaii coffee industry.

Updated 5/17/19.

26 thoughts on “Hawaiian Pineapple Fresh from Vacation + Hawaiian Pizza”

  1. Tips for choosing a pineapple. Go to a private farm to purchase your pineapple. When you get home chop the top and grow a new pineapple. Do not purchase from Dole because the have carefully made sure you can not grow a new pineapple from their stock.

  2. As we were leaving Kauai and heading to Oahu for the last few nights of our stay in the islands, we were at the airport and going through the secondary ag inspection out by the gate. Here is where you must have your carry-ons inspected. We happily placed our stuff on the belt of the machine. Stopping half-way through, the inspector lady said, “Let me see your boarding passes, please”. We obliged.
    She then said, “It appears you have fresh fruit in your bags.” (They were some tasty papaya and lychee)
    We answered, “Yes, but we are allowed to have it interisland.”
    Seemingly annoyed, she said, “I know that.”
    We kind of shrugged our shoulders, gesturing a sort of: So then what’s the deal?
    She continued, “There is another couple in the waiting area that just had their fruit confiscated. Their final destination is the mainland.”
    We kind of gestured: What does that have to do with us?
    She continued, “If you promise me you will not remove any of this fruit from your bags while in the waiting area, I will let you take it with you.”
    We promised and she let us pass.
    While I understood the inspector’s reasons, our passage of this checkpoint with our goods should not be contingent on another passenger’s happiness. After all, if the other couple had read the posted signs, they would have known the regulations and not tried to skirt by them. Besides that, what prevented them from thinking about their carry-ons when they had to place their checked luggage through the ag inspection out front?

  3. Can you recommend a few varieties of pineapple you favor? You mentioned cayenne and sugar loaf– any others? Leaving again for Kauai in a week and want to bring more types home– perhaps more than one variety.

    Thanks for the information about papayas. I’ll bring some of them home this year. I actually have a papaya tree (Southern California) but it’s a Mexican variety.

    1. Hi Jackie.

      Pineapple varieties will depend on what’s in season and available at farmers markets. Suggest the buy it and try it approach. Some people love the low acidity, while others love the acidity that sparks tang together with the sugar content.

      Regarding papayas, you can bring them back, but they will need to be specially processed. That kind of wrecks it, just so you know. You can still do it, just be aware of the rules, and check out the methods used.


  4. I moved to Massachusetts and would like to bring back papaya from Hawaii. Where can I get the agricultural approved papayas?
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Carol.

      Probably easiest is at the airports in Hawaii. May be other places too, depending on island.


  5. Hi
    Would anyone know if I can bring fresh pineapples into British Columbia, Canada bought from Costco in Honolulu Hawaii. I am reluctant to wait until I get to the airport as I think the price will be out of budget. $80 for 6 vs $3 a piece at Costco. The pineapples I bought from Costco had Dole tags on them. I wanted to bring fresh pineapple home to my mother who has been in the hospital at home for 3 months. She loves Hawaii and pineapples but due to serious condition, cannot travel any longer. I know fresh pineapple would actually make her feel better as she does not have much of an appetite these days. Returning home Saturday the 17th feb.

    Thank you so much, look forward to a reply before I leave if possible. Just found this website a moment ago.

  6. We will be traveling from Kona airport to College Station Texas via San Francisvo and Houston and would like to take home a box of pineapples and flower lieus home. Please tell us how to arrange these purchases.

  7. We are in Hilo now and will be flying out in a week. We would love to take some lychee and apple-bananas back, but aren’t sure where to find any approved ones. Can you suggest a couple of places? PLEASE! Good information on taking pineapples back.

    1. Hi Sheila.

      Those are not permitted unless fumigated and we aren’t aware of any way to accomplish that at a retail level. Pineapples and Coconuts are fine.


  8. We used to bring home pineapples for years and found the best at Farmer’s Markets and Costco. Now we just buy at Costco here and the taste is the same if we find the golden ones. Much better than ten years ago when you couldn’t locate a good pineapple on the mainland in stores.

  9. We like to bring back a pound or two of Hawai’ian ginger, which is OK to take to the mainland. It keeps well frozen and can be easily grated that way with a Microplane grater. (Thanks to a Safeway profuce manager for that tip.)

  10. I did not know that I could plant and grow pineapples at home. Can I do the same with coconuts? I am very excited to try this!! In my climate, it will probably take 5 years to bear fruit!!!

    1. Hi Teresa.

      Yes you can do the same thing with coconuts. Not sure however if they will ever produce anything edible without a tropical climate.


  11. I have a guily little secret. I like ‘Hawaiian Pizza’. But I like SPAM and poi too, so it cancels out.

  12. Aloha

    I love your articles. I was wondering if it’s okay to bring Orchid plants back to the mainland.


    1. Hi Angela.

      Our understanding is that you need to buy ones that have USDA certification in order to involve a more complicated process.


  13. I was used to bringing a whole case (8 or so) pineapples back. United does not charge for boxes of product purchased in Hawaii. We have brought back a case of pineapples and a case of wine at no charge. Last year, we had a Hawaiian Airlines flight to HNL and then we took United home. Hawaiian Airlines charged us for the bags! They should at least compete with other airlines that ship “Hawaii” products free.

  14. Calavo is the largest exporter of fresh Hawaiian papaya to the US Mainland.

    I would like to correct your article. No Gas is used to meet USDA quar antine regulations. We use vapor heat on our papaya to assure that no fruit flies end up in mainland agriculture.

    Canada allows no treatment at all since fruit flies could not survive the cold Winters.

  15. Many years ago, papaya was available pre packaged at the airport for transport home. I LOVED this as I adore papaya. I love pineapple, too, but it does not return the affection. Why did they stop with the papaya???

    1. Hi Julie,

      Good to hear from you! It is likely that those treated papayas are still available although perhaps not at LIH. There are treatment facilities that prepare for shipping to the mainland.


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