Big Island Candies

Big Island Candies – Watch in Awe As Sweet Treats Come to Life in Hilo
Local Expert's Rating:
4.5 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Are you looking for truly memorable Hawaiian gifts? Or perhaps you just need to satisfy your sweet tooth STAT? Either way, Big Island Candies definitely has what you need. From their signature shortbreads to chocolate-covered mac nuts, their treats never fail to delight. Plus, you can watch while they’re made!

- The Local Expert Team

There are plenty of ways to indulge your sweet tooth when you explore Hawaii’s Big Island. Shave ice abounds, of course, and it’s never difficult to find ice cream or lilikoi treats. When you want confections that are as visually appealing as they are tasty, however, you can’t go wrong with the beloved Big Island Candies.

As a local staple among residents and tourists alike, Big Island Candies has a long history and an inspiring origin story. It all began with Allan and Irma Ikawa’s passion for local produce and hand-crafted treats. In their pursuit of the American Dream, they outfitted a humble Hilo location with a simple chocolate melter and a shrink-wrap machine. The operation has expanded considerably since then, and, today, Big Island Candies is a must-visit Hilo destination.

The current flagship store is sizable but still feels wonderfully inviting. As you enter the store, you will be welcomed with open arms and treated to free samples. This will whet your appetite and, before you know it, you’ll have grabbed more treats than you could possibly eat on your own. That’s to be expected, but don’t worry: the confections at Big Island Candies make for amazing gifts. 

While Big Island Candies offers many mouthwatering creations, the shortbread tends to attract the bulk of the attention. There are several dipped varieties worth checking out, including dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and even white chocolate. Combo packs encourage you to try several flavors. 

Not interested in shortbread? Not a problem: there are plenty of other treats available at Big Island Candies. Favorites include toffee, brownies, chocolate-covered macadamia nuts, and even mac nut biscotti. If you don’t have a sweet tooth, you are always welcome to invest in iconic Big Island coffee beans. There is something for everyone here and, if you browse long enough, you’ll surely find an enticing treat that you feel compelled to try.

There’s a lot to love about products purchased directly at Big Island Candies — and we’re not only talking about the exquisite flavors.  Visitors also regularly comment on the aesthetics. The packaging is brightly colored, and often, adorned with unique details that make top products compelling from a visual perspective. This attention to detail can also be seen in the shop’s general decor, which is always fun to examine. 

As you browse, don’t forget to spend some time by the display window, where you can see the experts at work. This gives you a glimpse at all that goes into the confection-making process and will make you even more appreciative of the final, delicious results. 

If you need something sweet immediately and the samples just aren’t enough, consider ordering a scoop of your favorite ice cream flavor. Real chunks of fruit are included, with flavors such as mango and pineapple capturing tropical vibes. 

No matter which treats you find compelling, you will be amazed by the customer service. This is first evident as you grab samples upon entry but remains at the forefront with any additional interactions. Many staff members speak both English and Japanese and are happy to accommodate requests from all types of customers. 

The most popular items include:

Pineapple Manju
For pure tropical decadence in buttery wrapping, get the Pineapple Manju. Available in packs of eight, this amazing treat starts with a sweet and tart pineapple filling made using fresh ingredients. Then, they wrap it all up in an ultra-light buttery crust to remember.

Milk Chocolate Dipped Ika
If you love sweet and salty snacks, try the Milk Chocolate Dipped Ika. They create this treat by dipping dried, shredded cuttlefish in rich milk chocolate. The unlikely pairing goes together beautifully, resulting in a salty, cacao flavor combo with the perfect amount of chew.

Mika Macadamia Blossom Honey
The Mike Macadamia Blossom Honey takes you on a flavor journey made possible by the hard work of local honeybees. As the bees pollinate all the macadamia nut trees on the island, they produce a slightly nutty, wholly delicious honey. Using that honey, the chocolatiers create a phenomenal creamy filling and then dip it in chocolate to finish it off right.

If you still need more of their treats after returning home, you’re in luck! Just go to their website to put in your order. You can load up on all their baked treats, chocolates, and more, plus even grab a few extras for friends and family. They ship nationwide by UPS, so your items arrive fresh and ready to devour. Mainland shipments only happen Monday through Wednesday to keep your items from sitting over the weekend.

Insider Tips:
-Want to see all the magic happen? Plan your trip for the morning because they stop baking by early afternoon.
-If you need to skip the sugar, you don’t have to go without their famous shortbread. Just ask about their sugar-free varieties instead.
-If you’re short on space or doubtful of your ability to transport so many treats, don’t worry: you can have items shipped if desired. Another option? Purchasing favorites from the official website, which is easy to navigate.
-Watch out if you have nut allergies: Mac nuts are included in many top samples and products and, with these nuts processed onsite, even casual visits may be problematic for those with severe allergies.