There were two things Brian really wanted to do on our trip to the Big Island of Hawaii, visit Kona Coffee farms and sample Kona Coffee, and see hot lava in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park — both of which we did. While watching hot lava flow was also my list of things to do, I also wanted to see waterfalls, check out lava tubes, and visit a macadamia nut farm and sample macadamia nuts. While visiting Hilo, we saw Rainbow Falls, Pe’epe’e Falls and Wai’ale Falls, as well as Hakuna Falls and Akaka Falls. We also explored Kaumana Caves and the Thurston Lava Tube.
The only major thing left on my list of things to do on the Big Island was touring a macadamia nut farm. I didn’t get to tour a farm, but I did get to visit the Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company Visitor Center. The Visitor Center has a huge gift shop, an ice cream counter, tons of different flavored macadamia nuts to sample, and guided and self-guided tours of their processing facility!
We arrived at opening time and were greeted with friendly smiles by the staff, free coffee, and ice cold water. But as soon as the kids spotted the free samples, we had to try every single one.
Just some of the macadamia nut flavors we got to sample included lightly salted, soy sauce, spam, wasabi, butter garlic and herbs, chili peppah, black peppah, honey mustard, hula jalapeno, island onion, coconut glaze, glazed kona coffee, and butter rum. There were also samples of the macadamia nut brittle, chocolate covered macadamia nuts, and the macadamia nut popcorn.
After our fill of free macadamia nut samples, we walked along the windows of the processing facility, checking out how the macadamia nuts are handled and canned. We also saw them making macadamia nut brittle. The kids likes watching the staff work and I appreciated the signs and displays explaining each part of the process. Next we watching a short video about macadamia nut farming and the industry as a whole, snapped a few photos in their photo booth, and bought some macadamia nuts to take with us before heading back to the Hilton Waikoloa Village for dinner.
About Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company
In 1977, President and Co-Owner Richard Schnitzler came to Hawai‘i from Michigan, to work for a sugar company. From sugar, he moved into macadamia nuts, and over the next 12 years worked with some of the largest macadamia nut producers in the state, before starting Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company, in 1994.
Using only 100% Hawaii-grown macadamia nuts, and employing local Hawaiians, the company began a small canning operation in Kawaihae. A few cans of macadamia nuts were brought to a local Kohala Coast resort to try and they loved them! So with a loan from the state, Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company added a processing plant and developed a number of private label products for sale.
In 2009, Schnitzler partnered with Edmund C. Olson, whose family trust has been involved in conserving land for agriculture and wildlife. Olson is also an active partner in OK Farms in Hilo and the Ka‘u Coffee Mill, helping farmers succeed in producing world-class coffee.
Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company works with private growers and ensure they get fair treatment and the best possible price They also care about the earth and their impact. Hamakua Macadamia Nuts employ environmental practices to reduce waste, repurpose by-products, and recycle materials wherever possible. For example, all sizes of nut are used:
- Cull nuts are pressed for macadamia oil, an excellent cooking oil with a high flash point and mild taste.
- Dust is used as an ingredient in ice cream and cookies.
- Husks are used for compost.
- The hard shells are burned in a biomass furnace to produce heat for drying the nuts in shell.
Know Before You Go
- The Hamakua Macadamia Nut Visitor Center is located at 61-3251 Maluokalani Street, Kawaihae, Hawaii 96743. Look for the large silos at the top of the hill full of macadamia nuts.
- The Visitor Center in Kawaihae is open daily from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm. Closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, and for the Ironman Triathlon.
- Free self-guided and guided factory tours are given daily with viewing of the macadamia nut processing facility.
- Enjoy free coffee, free samples of popcorn, and free samples of macadamia nuts — there are all sorts of macadamia nut flavors to try!