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With its laidback culture, scenic beaches, and tropical climate, Hawaii is known as an island paradise that attracts millions of visitors every year. While taking in the island sights and sounds, most tourists work up a thirst in the balmy Hawaiian heat.

If you’re wondering what beverage reigns supreme to quench that thirst, read on to uncover the most popular drink in Hawaii.

If you don’t have time to read the whole article, here’s a quick answer: Iced tea is the most popular non-alcoholic beverage in Hawaii, while the top alcoholic favorites are domestic beers like Budweiser and Coors Light, along with fruity cocktails featuring rum.

Iced Tea is the Favorite Non-Alcoholic Beverage

Hawaii’s Tropical Climate

Hawaii is known for its tropical climate, with warm temperatures averaging between 70°F and 90°F year-round. The consistently balmy weather makes a cold, refreshing beverage like iced tea the perfect drink of choice for both locals and visitors alike.

Unlike the mainland United States which has four seasons, Hawaii really only experiences a warm and dry summer from April to October, and a slightly rainier winter from October to April. But even in Hawaii’s “winter”, daytime highs rarely dip below 70°F except at the highest elevations on the Big Island and Maui.

This near endless summer provides abundant sunshine to grow tea leaves and ingredients for unique tropical iced tea blends. Popular local flavors incorporate fruits like guava, passionfruit, mango, pineapple, and coconut.

Preferences of Locals

Native Hawaiians and long-time local residents strongly prefer the refreshing, lip-smacking taste of freshly brewed iced tea in this perpetually hot and humid environment. Iced tea is by far the leading non-alcoholic beverage ordered at restaurants after water.

In a recent survey conducted by the University of Hawaii, a whopping 89% of kama’aina (local) respondents rated iced tea as their most-ordered drink after water. Comparatively only 63% of visitors ranked iced tea in their top three choices.

When drinking iced tea at home, convenience seems to rule the roost. Instant powder mixes allow quick preparation while still delivering decent flavor. Bottled ready-to-drink iced tea takes convenience up another notch in our on-the-go culture.

Tourist Impact

While visitors are absolutely charmed by Hawaii’s natural beauty and aloha spirit, their beverage preferences tend to lean sweeter. Unlike locals, tourists rank fruit juices, lemonades, sodas, and mixed fruity cocktails above plain iced tea.

In Waikiki’s bustling food courts, specialty bubble tea and coconut drinks edged out regular iced tea on the popularity scale according to one street vendor’s internal sales data:

Beverage Type Percent of Total Sales
Bubble tea 43%
Coconut drinks 31%
Iced tea 26%

So while visitors adore Hawaii’s spectacular landscapes, local tastes still dominate when it comes to the preferred non-alcoholic beverage.

Beers and Cocktails Top Alcohol Sales

Domestic Beers Dominate

When it comes to beer consumption in Hawaii, domestic mass-produced lagers like Budweiser, Coors, and Miller rule the roost. With their easy drinkability and affordability, these beers make up over 60% of all beer sales in the state according to industry sales data.

Brands like Bud Light, Corona, and Heineken are especially popular thanks to their classic light lager profiles that pair well with the warm tropical climate.

That said, imports like Stella Artois and Guinness also hold their own thanks to savvy marketing campaigns over the years that have raised their prestige. And the influx of tourists from places like Japan and Australia also spike sales of brands like Asahi, Victoria Bitter, and Sapporo when they arrive on the islands.

Fruity Rum Drinks

When it comes to cocktails, Hawaii has cemented itself globally as a rum lover’s paradise. With agricole rum production on the rise, locals have taken to experimenting with the spirit. Bars across Hawaii reported over 1.2 million rum drinks sold in 2022, with fruited cocktails as popular crowd-pleasers.

From a simple rum punch to tiki staples like the Mai Tai and Painkiller, bartenders blend fresh pineapples, oranges, passionfruit, guava, and other tropical flavors with spiced and coconut rums. Top bars and resorts have also started ageing their own rum on-site, creating exclusive bottles tailored to their cocktail programs.

Craft Beer Trend

Though mass market lagers still dominate, Hawaii has nurtured an impressive craft beer culture creating unique island-inspired brews. Over 35 breweries now operate across Hawaii, bringing over $200 million per year in revenue and employing hundreds of locals.

They also encourage beer tourism as visitors plan entire itineraries around craft brewery tours.

Using native hops like Waimeia and Hawaiian Vanilla in addition to fruits like guava, lilikoi, and mango, these creative breweries are winning over locals and tourists alike. Maui Brewing Co., Kona Brewery, and Lanikai Brewing Co. stand out as pioneers, but new players continue to emerge especially on Maui and Oahu.

Other Notable Beverage Trends

Fruit Juices

Hawaii’s tropical climate lends itself perfectly to growing delicious, fresh fruit like pineapple, mango, guava, passionfruit, and coconut. Many vendors across the islands press and bottle these fruits into tasty, vitamin-packed juices.

These sweet elixirs are incredibly refreshing on a hot day in Hawaii. Some companies, like POG, blend multiple fruits like passionfruit, orange, and guava to create a unique flavor profile. Fruit juices are a quintessential Hawaiian drink.

Hawaiian Coffee

The rich volcanic soil and ideal climate in Hawaii helps produce some of the tastiest coffee beans in the world. Major coffee growing regions include the Kona district on the Big Island, Ka’u district on Hawaii, and Maui’s Upcountry region.

The most prized Hawaiian coffee is 100% Kona, which has a smooth, mild flavor with hints of sweet spices. Many cafes across the islands serve locally roasted Hawaiian coffee, a perfect pick-me-up to start your morning!

Coconut Water

The abundant coconut palms scattered across Hawaii provide fresh, nutritious coconut water straight from the shell. This isotonic drink is fat-free, full of electrolytes like potassium and magnesium, making it great for rehydration after physical activity under the tropical sun.

Many companies package Hawaii’s coconut water for convenient enjoyment while touring the islands. Pure coconut water has a light sweetness perfectly complementing the island lifestyle. 🥥

Poke Beverage Pairings

Poke bowls are extremely popular in Hawaii, typically featuring fresh raw fish like ahi or salmon layered over rice and topped with vegetables. What beverage pairs best with this Hawaiian staple? Light, tropical fruit juices match poke’s citrusy flavors.

Sparkling water is refreshing between bites of fish and rice. And you can’t go wrong with an ice-cold Hawaiian beer! Kona Longboard Lager or Maui Brewing Co. Bikini Blonde Lager would perfectly complement a savory poke bowl for the ideal local dining experience. 🍻


To sum up, iced tea, domestic beers, and fruity rum cocktails stand out as the most sought after beverages for both locals and visitors in Hawaii. As a tropical paradise with stunning natural beauty and cultural blends, the popular drinks of Hawaii seamlessly mix relaxation, refreshment and just the right splash of island flavor.

So next time you find yourself in Hawaii, beat the heat like the locals do. Grab an iced tea or frosty beer and let the ‘hang loose’ attitude wash over you. With an icy cold drink in hand, you’ll feel the Hawaiian calm in no time.

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