Picture this! Tropical Fruit Salsa. Intrigued? You should be! The Polynesian Cultural Center is pleased to share an amazing salsa that focuses on the bounty of fresh tropical fruits, vegetables and a little touch of spice! Perfect as a topping on fish, chicken, ribs, or salad. We recommend a fresh shrimp salad with sliced avocado, tomatoes and a champagne vinaigrette made with coconut oil (provided at the end of this recipe post).

But the best way to serve it may simply be with a bowl of tortilla chips. Whatever you choose it to accompany, it’s sure to create that island atmosphere you crave.

image of a small bowl of tropical fruis salsa with a slice of pineapple, a slice of watermelon and a tortilla chip


2 C watermelon, seeded and cubed into small pieces

1 cup of fresh pineapple, peeled and cubed into small pieces

1 mango, peeled and cubed into small pieces

1 cucumber, seeded and cubed into small pieces

½ small red or sweet onion, finely diced

1 tablespoon hot pepper, such as serrano, jalapeno, etc., seeded and finely minced.  Note: 2 tsp. red pepper flakes can be substituted.

Optional: Other produce can be added or used as substitution, such as chives for the onions, papaya, jicama, corn, etc. 

1 tablespoon of one of the following herbs, freshly minced: dill, basil, cilantro or mint.

¼ c lime juice

¼ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

½ teaspoon sea salt

(Optional) ½ teaspoon chili lime salt

1/3 cup shredded coconut

Hint: If the pepper is too spicy, here is a great trick! Cut the pepper in half. Next take out all the seeds and rinse thoroughly. Bring a cup of water to a boil. Turn off the heat. Place the two halves of the pepper in the hot water and let it stew for 1 full minute. Take the two halves and let them cool. Rinse well. Next, place the cooled pepper into a mixture of 1 cup ice-cold water and ½ cup vinegar and let sit for 20 minutes. Rinse thoroughly. If it is still too hot, place back in the water for 10 minutes.

image of numerous fresh fruits peeled and ready to chop for the fresh tropical fruit salsa recipe

Fresh fuit and vegetables are the base for this amazing dish


As you will be handling a lot of produce throughout this recipe, make sure to keep your hands clean.

Image of chopped pineapple, papaya, mango, cucumber and watermelon in a strainer

Drain chopped fruits and vegetables that contain liquids.


Peel and cut the fresh fruits with a sharp knife and place in a colander.  Add 1 tsp. of salt (which will help release any liquid in the produce) and mix gently by hand. Then place the colander into the sink to drain for 10 minutes. At the end of the 10 minutes, gently press the fruit (still in the colander as it sits in the sink) to express out the excess juices.

image of hand on top of chopped fruits and vegetables in a strainer sitting in a sink

Once the fruit has had a chance to release some of the liquid, place your hand on the top and gently press for just a few seconds.


Gently scoop the fruit into a glass bowl. Add the chopped onions and hot pepper.

In order not to bruise the fruit, stir gently with your hands to mix the produce (this can be done by gently scooping with a bottom to top folding action – see video below).


Pour the lime evenly over the mixture. Add the salt, and hot pepper. Toss gently.

Cover and refrigerate.


image showing a small amount of shredded coconut on top of the finished salsa

I like to top the salsa lightly with shredded coconut


Keep the salsa refrigerated in an airtight container until time to serve. As you are using fresh produce, it is best to use within the next few hours. When ready to serve, pour off any newly accumulated liquid, then sprinkle with a touch of shredded coconut and some chili lime salt.

Serve with fresh tortilla chips, or served on top of grilled fish or chicken, or in a refreshing green salad with sliced avocados and fresh grilled or steamed fish and topped with a delicious Champagne Vinegarette (see recipe below).


The ingredients for Coconut Champagne Vinegarette

BONUS RECIPE: Champagne vinaigrette made with coconut oil

Sweet and tangy, this is a wonderful flavor enhancer for a delicious summer salad

1/4 cup champagne vinegar

1/4 cup coconut oil

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon sea salt

dash of freshly ground pepper

We have lots more delicious recipes in our Eat Polynesia! section of the blog. You’re going to love the flavors of the island!

Bio of Nina S. Jones, Blogger for the Polynesian Cultural Center 

Nina S. Jones, blogger for the Polynesian Cultural CenterNina Jones, a mainland gal from way back, is now a transplanted Islander. With her husband of over 45 years, she has lived in Laie since volunteering at the Polynesian Cultural Center from 2014 – 2016. She now serves as the blog manager for the Center. Her blogs focus on the Polynesian history, beliefs, practices and oh so delicious food! Polynesia is not just a place to visit, it is a way to live and she is very honored to be able to be a part of their amazing world.