One of the best parts of traveling is trying local cuisine and flavor. Cultures around the world use so many unique ingredients and spices. Trying local dishes, including tropical fruits is an excellent way to understand the local lifestyle, not to mention push your foodie comfort zone!
Tropical Fruits You Must Try At Least Once!
Many of these are not found in the U.S. or are difficult and rare to find. Even if you aren’t traveling to the tropics soon, look for these tropical fruits – especially during the summer months. Try them out and see what kinds of organic flavors these beautiful parts of the world are enjoying.
The big benefit of eating and trying fruit when you travel is that it can help you maintain your travel diets. Naturally occurring sugars in fruits are not as bad for you as the added sugars you find in desserts and soft drinks. So, don’t hesitate to go all in on these unique tropical fruits!
1 – Lychee
You may have tried a martini cocktail with this name, but have you tried the fruit? Grown in Southeast Asia, this “alligator strawberry” has a hard red shell that you must remove to reveal the silky white fruit inside.
That white fruit might remind you of a grape, but the actual taste is a bit sweeter and more floral.
2 – Rambutan
This cousin of the above-mentioned lychee is hairier. Yup, the outside shell is the same, but also has a hairier surface. That’s how you can tell the difference between the two.
3 – Dragonfruit
There’s white dragon fruit and then red dragon fruit. During my experience in Kuala Lumpur, I had the privilege of trying the red version. It’s delicious no matter which way you cut it. If you see someone selling this, take a moment to get some!
4 – Passionfruit
If you like sweet/sour/tart flavors, then passionfruit should be at the top of your list of tropical fruits to try.
Once you cut through the outer shell, the inside contains black seeds covered in yellow fruit flesh. Simply scoop up some seeds and have a bite! Fresh passion fruit is tart, juicy and super fun to eat!
5 – Mango
Mangoes are ubiquitous even here in America. However, some of the mango varieties you can get abroad are amazing. There are even versions where you don’t have to cut the fruit open. Just slice a hole on one end, and then suck out the fruit!
While you’re at it, try all the mango-flavored drinks you can. For instance, a popular Indian street drink you can get is mango lassi, or their version of a mango smoothie. It’s filling, delicious and refreshing, especially on a hot summer day!
6 – Coconut
A visit to any tropical island will get you access to fresh coconuts and coconut water. If you haven’t done this, please do.
Fresh coconut water straight from the fruit is super refreshing, hydrating, and tasty with no aftertaste. Compared to the boxed coconut water you get at the grocery store, fresh wins, hands down.
Once you’re done drinking, slice up the coconut and enjoy the meaty core! It’s a wonderful tropical treat.
7 – Kiwi
Another tart fruit that you’re probably familiar with here at home, kiwi is also amazing abroad. There are several different varieties of the fruit, each with a slightly different level of tanginess that is worth experiencing.
8 – Cherimoya
Native to Ecuador and Peru, this green-shelled fruit houses a creamy custard fruit filling inside. Just be careful with the seeds; they aren’t good for you.
One way to eat the fruit is to chill it and then scoop out the fruit filling. This ability earned the fruit its nickname, ‘ice cream fruit.’
9 – Guava
Originating in Mexcio, the Caribbean and South America, this fruit is sure to give you a refreshing snack break from the heat.
Close to the consistency of an apple, guavas are easy to eat and can be used in various cooking recipes, drinks and more. For instance, if you’ve ever had agua fresca in Mexico, then you’ve had some guava!
10 – Star Fruit (Carambola)
A little bit rubbery on the outside, this tropical fruit is all tart and flavorful on the inside. Similar to the taste of a kiwi, this is another fun fruit to try on your travels or even to add to a drink!
11 – Papaya
Papay is readily available in the states, but is best experience in the tropics. The color of the fruit there is a darker, deeper orange, the flavor is sweeter and much more refreshing.
Aside from tasting good, papayas are packed with health benefits, making for a winning travel snack or dessert!
12 – Salak (snake fruit)
Native to Indonesia, Salak grows on palm trees. Don’t be fooled or scared of that tough outer shell. It houses a honey-sweet fruit that’s also tart! It’s a truly unique flavor from a unique part of the world. Just be careful, as eating too much can cause constipation!
13 – Mangosteen
This sweet, yet tangy, fruit is native to islands around the Indian ocean. If you’re ever island hopping in the area, keep an eye out for this unique purple fruit.
14 – Jack Fruit
This tropical fruit is native to India but is grown today throughout tropical regions globally. It has a fibrous, slimy texture similar to that of mango or banana, but it smells like bubble gum (very high sugar content).
Jackfruit is also one of those foods, given its meaty pulpiness, that can be used in vegan cooking. Some recipes, you’ll note, use jackfruit as a meat substitute. Regardless, it’s a unique tropical fruit that is worth trying!
How To Try These Tropical Fruits
If eating some of these fruits is too adventurous, consider trying them in different forms.
- Cocktails (e.g., lychee martini, passionfruit drinks, guava cocktails)
- Desserts (e.g., passionfruit cake or cheesecake, guava cookies)
- Smoothies (e.g., mango lassi, kiwi-based drinks)
- Fruit salad (mix them up with familiar fruits so that it’s not so overwhelming)
Another way to help some of these unique flavors go down easy is to spice them up. For instance, add some black salt to a sliced papaya. It elevates the flavor and can help make any unfamiliar textures go down easily.
Food is just one avenue to experience local culture. Keep an eye out for these delicious tropical fruits abroad, or look for them here at home and give them a go!