A road trip around the Island of Hawaii is the perfect way to try tropical treats found nowhere else in the United States. The island is like few others in the world in that it packs eight of the planet’s 13 climate zones into an area just over 4,000 square miles — perfect for growing an abundance of delicious produce.
Farms and producers cater to the public by opening their gates, fences, doors, and hearts to show the process of growing these specialties, and, more importantly, allowing people to taste what’s growing. These three mini road trips will take you to farms where you can try the best of the coffee, tropical fruits, cacao, and macadamia nuts that grow in this island paradise.
Hawaiian coffee farm road trip
Kona Coffee is known for its distinct flavor that comes from the growing conditions on a 30-mile strip along the Hualalai volcano’s western slope, which is called the Kona coffee belt. A mixture of rich volcanic soil, warm and dry mornings followed by a late afternoon rain, and a limited temperature variance creates the perfect environment for coffee plants to thrive. Most coffee farms on the island are found along a stretch of the Mamalahoa Highway south of Kailua-Kona. When you take any tour, keep in mind you’ll be visiting active farms with potentially sloped and rocky terrain. Wear sturdy shoes and come prepared for inclement weather.
Start your road trip on Painted Church Road and check out Bay View Farm Coffee in the town of Captain Cook. Note that the road is a narrow, winding drive at an elevation of around 800 feet.
At Bay View Farm, the coffee bushes are planted below the visitor’s center on the sloping mountain leading down to the ocean. Five 30-minute tours are run every day from 1:00 PM to 3:30 PM, no reservation required, and there’s a gift shop and plenty of free parking. The tours include free tastings and the chance to walk right up to the plants and see the production facilities where the beans are dried, weighed, and roasted.
Next, head to Hala Tree Coffee Farm, an organic operation in the Kona coffee belt. Located on the mauka, or uphill, side of the highway, this farm grows, processes, and roasts its products on site. Hala Tree started in 2012, and the owners nurtured two neglected acres of coffee bushes into a thriving farm with a great view from the visitor’s platform. IT received USDA Organic Certification in 2015. Book a free tour online, or call ahead for groups larger than 12. Time the visit with a stop at The Coffee Shack for a meal with the best view of Kealakekua Bay.
From Hala Tree, make your way north to Greenwell Farms, a coffee farm started in the 1800s that’s still run by the same family today. As well as housing a coffee museum, it won Hawaii Magazine’s award for Best Farm Tour in 2021. Free tours are offered in English from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM at the top and bottom of the hour, and in Japanese at 10:00 AM and 1:00 PM. Reservations are not required, but it’s recommended to show up 10-15 minutes before the tour you want to go on begins.
While the Kona coffee belt has the highest density of farms, there are coffee farms in other areas of the island. Take a drive from Kona to Honoka’a early in the morning and watch that famed Hawaiian light rise between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa — the two largest volcanoes on the island — before reaching Long Ears Coffee on the 3B Half Horse Ranch. The Ranch has been there since 1970, and coffee plants have been on the land since 2000. Call or email to set up a tour, which costs $35 per person (there’s a two-people minimum for the tour to go on).
- Bay View Farm Coffee: 83-5249 Painted Church Rd, Captain Cook, HI 96704, United States
- Hala Tree Organic Kona Coffee Farm: 82-5966 Hawaiʻi Belt Rd, Captain Cook, HI 96704, United States
- The Coffee Shack Restaurant: 83-5799 Mamalahoa Hwy Box 510, Captain Cook, HI 96704, United States
- Greenwell Farms: 81-6581 Mamalahoa Hwy, Kealakekua, HI 96750, United States
- Long Ears Coffee: 46-3689 Waipahi Pl, Honokaa, HI 96727, United States
Hawaii’s fruit and cacao farms for fresh treats and chocolate
Yes, the Island of Hawaii is known for its coffee, but there are plenty of other farm tours focused on fruit and cacao that are just as desirable.
Kuaiwi Farm is located in the town of Captain Cook, south of Kona. The farm grows cacao, coffee, and macadamia nuts, as well as avocado, banana, and pineapple. Reserve ahead for the farm tour and tasting held Sundays and Tuesdays from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM for $25 per person.
The northernmost regions of the island make for a beautiful and tasty road trip. Both North Kohala and the Hamakua Coast are lush with foliage thanks to abundant rainfall — a climate that also allows for farms to prosper. Call ahead to book a tour and table at Starseed Ranch just outside of Hawi. Starseed Ranch offers farm stays, dinner options, and a food, forest, and plant medicine tour. Stay the night after you hike the Pololu Valley — the trailhead is just around the corner. You’ll be well fed after the trek thanks to fresh mango, papaya, avocado, breadfruit, lemon, lime, coconut, turmeric, banana, plantain, and more. Farm tours are available Thursdays by request starting at $35 per adult and can include a farm-to-table dinner. Accommodations start at $125 per night.
Count waterfalls as you drive along the Hamakua coast and stop in at Big Island Farms, which grows more than 200 species of plants. Tours are available to see the farm and taste the coffee, banana, papaya, cassava, taro, ginger, turmeric, cacao, avocado, breadfruit, coconut, sugar cane, sweet potatoes, kukui, ti, and bamboo. Tours are $10 per person with a minimum of two people. Book ahead online.
Next, head through Hilo and make your way to O.K. Farms. It’s located just above Rainbow Falls and there are overlooks and walking trails throughout the rolling hills. As stewards of the land for over 20 years, O.K. Farms gives back to the community in part by supporting other farms with its Farm Box program, a subscription service that provides fresh food to the community. Book a tour to experience the view from the top of Rainbow Falls and taste the amazing produce grown here, including lychee, longan, rambutan, citrus, macadamia nuts, coffee, cacao, heart of palm, and more. Tours — 9:00 AM, 11:00 AM, and 2:00 PM — are booked in advance online and cost $52.36 per person.
Continue a few minutes west and check out Kulaniapia Falls. The farm tours and cooking classes are offered Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays starting at 9:30 AM. You’ll tour the gardens and learn culinary skills to create a fresh lunch where you can taste some of the dozens of products grown on site. Prices start at $149 for Inn guests, or $199 for the public, and include access to the falls after class. Overnight guests can also hire a private chef to create a fresh, in-season menu for dinner. The cost is $99 per person for a four- to five-course meal. Accommodation prices vary.
Farther south in the Puna region, you’ll find Puna Gold Estate. There, you can indulge in tropical fruits such as papaya, pineapple, bilimbi, guava, rambutan, lilikoi, avocado, bananas, thimbleberries, poha berries, jabuticaba, loquat, starfruit, and much more, as well as coffee and cacao. Call ahead or book online and you’ll receive exact directions to the farm. Tours are $25 per person and begin at 1:00 PM every day except Mondays.
- Kuaiwi Farm: 82-6155 D Rd, Captain Cook, HI 96704, United States
- Starseed Ranch: 52-4700 Akoni Pule Hwy, Kapaau, HI 96755, United States
- Big Island Farms: 47-4667 Honokaa-Waipio Rd, Honokaa, HI 96727, United States
- O.K. Farms: 1570 Maikalani St, Hilo, HI 96720, United States
- Kulaniapia Falls: 100 Kulaniapia Dr, Hilo, HI 96721, United States
- Puna Gold Estate: Exact address available upon booking to reduce drop-in visitors. Not included on the map.
A road trip tour of Hawaii’s famous Macadamia nut farms
Macadamia nuts were first brought to Hawaii from Australia in the late 1800s, and almost all macadamia nuts in the state are grown on the Island of Hawaii. In fact, one of largest macadamia nut orchards in the world is MacFarms in South Kona. While it isn’t open for tours, there are other farms and centers throughout the island where you can watch the process and taste nuts. Some farms listed above include macadamia nuts, but here are some nut-specific spots to hit.
Mauna Loa, with a visitor’s center outside of Hilo, creates Hawaii-specific flavors of nuts such as Kiawe smoked barbecue, Maui onion and garlic, and Hawaiian sea salt. It also has a variety of chocolate-covered macadamia nuts and dairy-free macadamia nut ice cream. Check ahead to make sure the visitor center is open.
The Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company grows and processes nuts all year round. The visitor’s center is at the farm on the north tip of the island. It’s open daily except major holidays from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM, and you can partake in a tasting and, depending on the day, watch the cannery process. Call ahead to confirm hours of operation.
- Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Visitor Center: 16-701 Macadamia Road, Keaau, HI 96749, United States
- Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company: 61-3251 Maluokalani St, Waimea, HI 96743, United States