Have you ever wondered how chocolate is made? Stop by Lavaloha Cacao Farm, located just 10 minutes outside of downtown Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii. There you can take a tour of the farm to see cacao pods growing up close and personal.
Tours last about 60 minutes and are offered several times a day, 6 days a week. There is a walking tour and riding tour option. We recommend the riding tour as the cacao farm is quite large. At 1000ft elevation, it can get pretty chilly, so be sure to bring some warm layers. There is also always a chance of wet weather, but they do provide umbrellas in case you forgot yours!
Your tour guide will teach you all about the history and why they choose certain cacao varieties over others. If you are lucky, you may even get to taste the flesh of the fruit and the fresh seeds that will eventually become chocolate! The fruit itself tastes nothing like the chocolate end-product. It has a soft, mushy texture like a cherimoya or custard apple, but the flavor is similar to a lychee.
Vertically Integrated Cacao Farm
The coolest thing about this cacao farm is that they not only grow the cacao, but they also process and craft their very own small batch chocolates! Your tour guide will take you through the area where they start the fermentation process in huge tubs. After that, you’ll get to take a peek inside the drying room. As soon as they open the doors to the drying room, there is this intense warmth like opening the oven door. And then the aroma of chocolate engulfs your entire body. In this room, each seed is hand picked and sifted for any imperfections, so that only the best seeds make it to the final product.
After the drying room, you’ll be taken to the chocolate tasting area. You will learn how they take the fermented roasted seeds, grind it up and temper it to create beautifully smooth and rich chocolate. This is followed by a delightful chocolate tasting of the different bars that they produce. After the tasting, the tour will end back at the gift shop, where you can pick up some of your favorite chocolates from the tasting. They also stock other products like hot sauces, soaps and lotions made from cacao!
Before You Go
Before you leave, take a stroll down into the collapsed lava tube, which is located just across from the gift shop. You may end up with three little stalkers on your way down to the tube. They seem to be quite fond of visitors, and it's no wonder why. There is a little vending machine that you can grab some food to feed them. And most visitors will run back to the gift shop just to get change to oblige these hungry ducks.
Want more ideas for fun activities, things to do and places to eat in Hawaii? Click here for some other Hawaii posts!