Inside the Honolulu Fish Auction

1 / 16
Fish Inspection
©Isaac Arjonilla
Fish Inspection

Fishmongers and chefs bid on a variety of fresh catch at the Honolulu Fish Auction.

2 / 16
Honolulu Fish Auction
©Isaac Arjonilla
Touchy Feely

A slice of the fish's tail reveals color, fat content and meat quality.

3 / 16
Honolulu Fish Auction
©Isaac Arjonilla
Fish Tails

A close-up look of the tails

4 / 16
Honolulu Fish Auction
©Isaac Arjonilla
Opah

On the day of the tour, an abundance of opah (commonly known as moonfish) was available.

5 / 16
Honolulu Fish Auction
©Isaac Arjonilla
Fresh Ahi

An auctioneer offers a close-up look of a chunk of big-eye tuna.

6 / 16
Honolulu Fish Auction
©Isaac Arjonilla
Up For Bids

An auctioneer controls the bidding process, which starts at 5:30 am.

7 / 16
Honolulu Fish Auction
©Isaac Arjonilla
On the Hook at Honolulu Fish Auction

Once the fish are sold, they are then transferred on to a pallet and picked up by the buyer.

8 / 16
Honolulu Fish Auction
©Isaac Arjonilla
Fresh Ahi

Fresh big-eye tuna will be bound for local restaurants in addition to being shipped to the Mainland and other international destinations.

9 / 16
Honolulu Fish Auction
©Isaac Arjonilla
Ready for Delivery

Workers dart in and out of the refrigerated auction floor, which is open for tours on certain Saturdays. 

10 / 16
Honolulu Fish Auction
©Isaac Arjonilla
Inside the Honolulu Fish Auction

On the auction floor, visitors will learn about how the fish are inspected to insure seafood safety and how a fish auction works.

11 / 16
Honolulu Fish Auction
©Isaac Arjonilla
Cross Section Cut

A cross section of the tail is cut so buyers can determine the quality of the fish.

12 / 16
Honolulu Fish Auction
©Isaac Arjonilla
On Ice

United Fishing Agency general manager Brooks Takenaka (pictured right) talks to one of the auctioneers.

13 / 16
Honolulu Fish Auction
©Isaac Arjonilla
Off Loading

Boats pull along dockside to unload fresh catches.

14 / 16
Honolulu Fish Auction
©Isaac Arjonilla
Dockside Action at the Honolulu Fish Auction

Fish continues to be offloaded as the auction continues inside.

15 / 16
Honolulu Fish Auction
©Isaac Arjonilla
Fresh Catch

Fish are covered in ice to maintain freshness.

16 / 16
Honolulu Fish Auction
©Isaac Arjonilla
Ice Bath

Ice is shovled on top of the fish to maintain freshness.

By Simplicio Paragas

It’s 5 in the morning on an unusually humid Hawaiian morning. At Pier 38, Honolulu’s bustling fishing port, fishermen, chefs and buyers are gathered outside the United Fishing Agency in the dark blue light of pre-dawn. Some are eating a classic Hawaiian breakfast (Spam and eggs with rice from Styrofoam containers), others are drinking coffee from flasks; all are awaiting the clanging bell that announces the start of business. On a good day, almost 60,000 pounds of fish will be sold here, with prices of top-quality big-eye tuna often reaching $8 per pound or more. Tours are conducted, by reservation only, on select Saturday mornings from 6 to 7:30 am. The tour costs $25 for adults and $20 for children 8–12 years old.  Tours are not generally scheduled mid-December to mid-January. To make a reservation, click here.

Fronting three blocks of Hawai‘i’s famed Kalākaua Avenue, Royal Hawaiian Center stands upon grounds that were once the home of Her Royal Highness, Princess Bernice Pauahi, great-granddaughter of King Kamehameha I, who unified the islands of Hawai‘i into one nation in 1810. With more than 100 shops and restaurants, along with an extensive cultural and entertainment program, the Center offers a unique shopping experience in the heart of Waikīkī.

Simplicio Paragas
About the author

Simplicio serves as the Hawaii senior editor for Wh...