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Lychees are a sweet and delicious tropical fruit that many people enjoy when visiting Hawaii. If you’re wondering specifically when you can expect fresh Hawaiian lychees to be available, read on for a complete guide.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The lychee harvest in Hawaii typically takes place between mid-May and the end of July, with peak availability from late May to early July.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about lychee season in Hawaii, including the typical harvest and availability windows, how Hawaii’s climate impacts ripening, the best places to find fresh lychees across the islands, tips for selecting high-quality fruit, lychee cultivars that grow in Hawaii, and some delicious ways locals like to eat them.

Overview of Lychee Harvest Season in Hawaii

When Does Lychee Fruit Ripen in Hawaii?

The lychee harvest season in Hawaii typically runs from late April through early July each year. Lychee trees flower in Hawaii between December and February. After the flowers are pollinated, it takes about 100-120 days for the lychee fruit to fully develop and ripen.

So lychees generally start ripening on trees in Hawaii in late April or early May.

There can be some variation in exact ripening times depending on the cultivar (variety) of lychee, location and elevation, soil conditions, and weather patterns each year. But late April to early July is generally considered peak lychee fruit season across most growing regions in Hawaii.

Peak Lychee Availability and Harvest Period

While a few early cultivars may ripen in late April, lychee availability and harvest reaches its peak from May through June in Hawaii. This six to eight week period offers the highest lychee yields, quality, and availability statewide.

Popular lychee varieties grown in Hawaii include Brewster, Bosworth 3, Kwai May Pink, and Wai Chee. These cultivars produce abundant crops of sweet, juicy lychees during the peak summer harvest.

Lychee harvest starts winding down in early July as fruit on the trees ripens and yields decrease entering the tail end of season.

Year-Round Lychee Imports

While Hawaii’s domestic lychee season only lasts a few months, imported lychees from China and Thailand help meet local demand for this tropical fruit year-round in grocery stores and markets statewide.

As Hawaii’s lychee harvest ends in early summer, lychee imports ramp up through the fall and winter months. So while fresh locally grown lychees are only available seasonally, consumers can still enjoy this exotic fruit all year long thanks to foreign imports.

How Hawaii’s Tropical Climate Impacts Lychee Growth

Hawaii’s tropical climate provides ideal growing conditions for lychees. The islands enjoy warm temperatures year-round, with average highs of 80-90°F. This allows lychees to thrive and produce fruit nearly year-round.

Hawaii’s volcanic soil is also beneficial for lychees. The rich, fertile soil contains lots of minerals that encourage strong root systems and lush foliage growth. Well-drained volcanic soil prevents fungal root diseases.

The tropical trade winds bring regular rainfall to Hawaii’s windward sides. Lychees require 40-100 inches of rain per year. The windward areas of the islands easily meet this requirement. The rain and cloud cover also protect plants from intense sun exposure.

While lychees grow well at elevations up to 1,500 feet, commercial orchards are typically located at 400-800 feet above sea level. This elevation provides the right mix of warm temperatures, rainfall, and well-drained soil.

Thanks to the ideal climate, Hawaii produces over 350,000 pounds of lychees per year. Most come from the island of Hawaii, with some production on Maui and Oahu as well. Popular cultivars grown commercially include Brewster, Haak Yip, and Kwai Mi.

Best Places to Find Fresh Lychees Across the Islands


Oahu is home to several farms and markets that sell fresh lychees during peak season from May to July. Head to farmers markets like the KCC Farmers Market on Saturdays to find lychees from local farms. Chinatown is also a great place to find fresh and affordable lychees when they are in season.

Stores like Chinatown Market and Oahu Fresh carry lychees and other exotic fruits. For the best selection, visit Waiola Shave Ice in Aiea, which sources organic lychees straight from farms on the North Shore and Waianae.


On Maui, keep an eye out for roadside lychee stands during summer months. Locals often sell freshly picked lychees from their backyard trees. The Upcountry Farmers Market is another excellent spot to find organic lychees grown right on the Valley Isle.

For a tasty lychee treat, check out Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice in Lahaina, Kihei, and Wailea, which uses Maui lychees in their syrups when available.


While not as well-known as Maui and Oahu for lychee production, keep an eye out for this sweet fruit at farmers markets on Kauai from May to July. The Vidinha Stadium and Kilauea Neighborhood Center host weekly farmers markets where local vendors sell produce.

You might get lucky and spot freshly harvested Kauai lychees when they are in season! The health food store Papaya’s Natural Foods in Kapaa sometimes carries lychees as well.

Hawaii Island

Thanks to its tropical climate, the Big Island offers some of the best lychee hunting in the state! Weekly farmers markets in Hilo and Kona often have stands selling fresh lychees in summer. For the largest selection, check out the Maku‘u Farmers Market on Sundays, which attracts farmers from all over the island.

Local favorites like Hawaiian Crown Plantation in Kurtistown and the now-retired Lychee King in Mountain View sold sought-after lychee varieties for decades. These days, small hobby farms scattered across East and South Hawaii grow lychees and share their bountiful harvests with an enthusiastic local customer base.

Choosing Ripe, Fresh Lychees in Hawaii

Look for Bright Red Shells

When selecting fresh lychees in Hawaii, look for fruits with brightly colored red shells. The vibrant red color indicates ripeness and good flavor. Ripe lychees will have shells that are smooth and free of blemishes. Unripe fruits appear more pinkish in color and lack the eye-catching red hue.

Inspect the Stems

Take a close look at the stem end when choosing lychees. The stems on ripe lychees are green and fresh looking. Avoid fruits with brown, dry, or brittle stems, as this shows overripeness. The stems should also be intact – lychees with missing or damaged stems often have damaged fruit inside.

Check for Even Coloring

Examine the shell for uniform reddish coloration. Ripe lychees will be a rich red color all over the shell. If you notice brown or yellow splotches, the fruit is likely overripe and past its prime. Even coloring signals the fruit was allowed to fully ripen on the tree.

Follow these three easy tips to select the best tasting, ripe lychees during lychee season in Hawaii. Choosing lychees with bright red shells, fresh green stems, and even color results in ideal fruits bursting with sweet, floral flavor.

With a discerning eye and these guidelines, you’ll pick delicious lychees every time.

Popular Lychee Cultivars Grown in Hawaii

Several tasty and productive lychee cultivars thrive in Hawaii’s tropical climate. The island state’s lychee orchards contain a diverse mix of Chinese and Indian cultivars that yield abundant, sweet fruit.

While lychee trees grow well across most Hawaiian islands, the largest orchards operate on the islands of Hawaii, Maui, Oahu, and Kauai.


The Kaimana lychee bears medium-sized, red-skinned fruit with a sweet, floral flavor. The cultivar originated on the island of Hawaii in 1926. Kaimana lychee trees produce reliable, heavy yields year after year. Their pyramidal growth habit makes harvesting easy.

Kaimana lychees have good crack resistance compared to other cultivars.

‘Kwai Mi’

Growers often call the ‘Kwai Mi’ lychee “the connoisseur’s choice” for its huge, juicy fruit and rich, sweet taste. Each pound contains just three or four golf ball-sized lychees. ‘Kwai Mi’ trees yield well annually. They grow upright when young but eventually form wide, spreading crowns.

‘Kwai Mi’ lychees sell for premium prices at fruit stands and markets.

No Mai Tsai

No Mai Tsai is likely Hawaii’s most widely planted lychee variety. Its name means “in front of your eyes” in Chinese. No Mai Tsai trees produce reliable, heavy crops of small-to-medium fruit with crisp texture and intense sweet-tart flavor. The skin turns dark red when ripe.

No Mai Tsai’s compact growth habit makes harvesting easy without ladders.


The Groff lychee bears large, heart-shaped fruit with juicy white flesh and a sweet, delicate flavor. A Hawaii breeding program released Groff in 1928. Its seeds came from China. Groff trees grow vigorously and yield well in Hawaii’s low and medium elevations.

Growers especially prize Groff’s productivity, fruit quality, and resistance to wind damage.

Black Leaf

As its name implies, Black Leaf lychee trees produce leaves with a striking dark red color. The leaves make an attractive backdrop for clusters of small, sweet fruit. Black Leaf lychees have a crisp texture and intense floral-rose flavor.

The cultivar performs well across Hawaii, especially in windy areas. Its natural semi-dwarf growth habit requires minimal pruning.

Delicious Ways Hawaiians Enjoy Lychees

Fresh Out-of-Hand

One of the most popular ways to enjoy fresh Hawaiian lychees is simply eating them out of hand. The ripe, red fruits have a delightfully sweet and floral taste that makes them an addictively delicious snack. Their texture is juicy and soft with a thin skin that is easily peeled away.

Lychees bought from farmers markets, farm stands, and supermarkets usually come pre-peeled for convenience.

Islanders peel and eat bowls full of lychees while watching TV, take bags of them to the beach, and pack them for hiking trips. The portable fruit helps provide an energy boost. Some innovative Hawaii companies have started selling products like lychee peelers, segmented lunch box containers perfect for transporting them, and reusable eco bags designed just for carrying freshly picked lychees.

In Fruit Salads

The citizens of Hawaii frequently add lychee pieces to fresh fruit salads. The sweet nodules pair well with other tropical fruits like pineapple, mango, papaya, and banana. Some recipes even incorporate lychee juice or jam into the salad dressing for flavor.

Green and dragon fruits also make excellent partners. The colorful mixes are popular desserts after backyard barbeques, potlucks, family gatherings, and church events. Lychees lend themselves well for festive fruit arrangements too.

More indulgent recipes use extras like shredded coconut, vanilla yogurt, orange segments, even sweetened condensed milk or a splash of rum. The juicy texture and flowery fragrance of lychees permeate the entire dish.

Locals often refer to these luxury fruit salads as “ono grindz” which means delicious food in Hawaiian Pidgin. They are frequently served at celebrations like birthdays, weddings, graduations, and holiday parties when lychees are at the peak of ripeness.

In Desserts and Sweets

Hawaiians have an affinity for turning fresh lychees into decadent sweets and desserts. A favored traditional preparation is lychee upside-down cake. Slices of ripe fruit are caramelized in butter and brown sugar in a cast iron skillet before the batter goes in forming a gooey topping when flipped over after baking.

Other baked goods like lychee bread pudding, scones, tarts, crisps, and even cheesecake incorporate the berries. Some recipes use canned lychees for convenience.

Closer to candies are lychee gummies, chocolate dipped lychees, lychee coconut ice pops, and lychee shave ice syrup. Shave ice is Hawaii’s iconic snow cone topped with tropical fruit flavors, sweet condensed milk and often azuki beans.

Lychee also shines as the star ingredient in gelatos, sorbets, coconut macaroons, truffles, custards, and smoothie bowls. Hawaii has no shortage of sweet ways to transform fresh lychees thanks to its booming foodie scene and talented home cooks.


Hopefully this guide has helped answer your question about what months you can expect fresh Hawaiian lychees each year. To recap, mark your calendar for lychee season from around mid-May through late July, with the highest supply and lowest prices typically in June.

No matter when you visit Hawaii, exploring the islands’ bountiful produce like lychees is an enjoyable way to embrace the local culture and flavors. And be sure to chat up farmers at markets and farm stands to get pro tips on selecting the best lychees for your taste and needs.

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