Hawaii and chocolate may not seem like a natural pairing, but visitors to a Big Island cacao farm will find they go together nicely, especially if they sample the goods.
Participants learn that cacao is the name of the squat tree that produces the pods full of the beans that become cocoa after fermentation and roasting.
Co-owner Greg Colden takes visitors to his stand of cacao trees, picks a ripe pod and slices it open so the raw beans can be tasted. Later, in the factory, Colden demonstrates the cacao-to-cocoa transformation and shows how the beans' chaff is used to make soap.
After the morning tour, guests can try a continental breakfast that includes chocolate espresso muffins and bars of Madre chocolate. Madre uses Hawaiian-grown beans, including those from Kokoleka Lani Farms, to create chocolate in its factory in Kailua on Oahu.
The three-hour tours depart from downtown Kailua-Kona at 8:30 a.m. and cost $75 a person.
Home Tours Hawaii owner Lisa Christian requires a minimum of six guests per tour which is why she asks people to call her (808) 325-5772 to determine availability.