Island breezes, coconut trees, waves lapping on a sandy beach. This must be paradise, yes? But even paradise can get a bit warm, so a special part of any visit to our beautiful island home includes a refreshing drink known locally as Otai.

One year ago we shared the traditional Watermelon Otai recipe. This year the Polynesian Cultural Center is excited to share its close relative, Mango Otai, which is both refreshing and delicious! It is a favorite on Oahu, and is sure to be a favorite of yours!

Picture of fresh coconut, pineapple and mangoes for Mango Otai

The beginnings of a refreshing island treat


5 large fresh mangoes, grated

1 fresh medium pineapple, grated

1 ¼ cups coconut milk

½ cup heavy cream (or half and half for a healthier version)

¼ cup sugar

½ cup pineapple juice

2 cups crushed ice


¾ cup fresh coconut meat (shredded)

1–2 passion fruit (lilikoi), finely mashed (adds an amazing flavor)

Directions for Mango Otai

Peel and grate mangoes and pineapple in a large bowl. A heavy box style grater tends to work best. Add liquids, sugar, crushed ice and any optional ingredients, then mix with a large spoon until sugar is dissolved. Otai is more of a treat than a beverage and is meant to be spoon-able so if you find it too thick, simply add water, or more juice.

If not used immediately, mix again before serving.

You can drink your mango otai immediately, store in the fridge, or for a refreshing treat later, pour into styrofoam or heavy plastic cups with fitted lids and place in your freezer. That way, whenever you want you can take out a cup, defrost it for about ¼ – 1 hour, grab a spoon and enjoy a slushy piece of heaven from the tropics.

Substitutions: If you are not able to come across fresh mangoes or pineapples, you certainly can use frozen. Consider grating them while they are partially frozen. 
Makes 6 servings
Pineapple being grated

Use a box grater to grate the ingredients


Otai in a bowl

Mixture should be thick. Eat with a spoon or with a large straw.


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Nina S Jones



Nina Jones, a mainland gal from way back, is now a transplanted Islander. With her husband of 40+ years, she volunteers at the Polynesian Cultural Center. Her hobbies include swimming, traveling, studying and writing about what she is learning from the various Polynesian cultures. Her blogs focus on their history, beliefs, practices and – as an added bonus – delicious food! Polynesia is not just a place to visit, it is a way to live. Nina is very honored to be able to be a part of this amazing world.