Chocolate requires warm, mild weather to grow. Many people do not live in areas close to cacao farms due to their climate. Therefore, you must make time to tour Hilo Sharks Chocolate Farm on the Island of Hawaii when in the area.
This farm grows more than cacao. It also produces coffee and vanilla, and you can view all these crops during your visit. In fact, the farm grows vanilla vines with cacao trees. Vines start around the bases of cacao trees and wrap the trunks of the trees as they grow upward. Farmers hand-pollinate the vanilla orchid flowers each February and March.
Farm tours are highly educational and hosted by the farm’s owners Tom Sharkey and Ana Antilla. For more than 25 years, Tom has grown cacao on the Hamakua Coast. A transplant from California, he is passionate about his adopted home in Hawaii. His excitement for the land and growing is palatable as he shares his stories and much more on the tour.
First, you’ll learn about the challenges and joys of growing in Hawaii as you walk through the orchard. Farmer Tom shares
The next stop is the greenhouse where delicate seedlings of coffee and cacao plants take root and begin their growth. This location on the farm is also where they dry coffee beans and fermented cacao beans.
Finally, you’ll see the kitchen where cacao nibs turn into smooth, delicious chocolate. Of course, you cannot visit a cacao farm without taking home chocolate as a souvenir. The twist is that your chocolate treats are ones that you make yourself.
Throughout the tour, you will never get hungry or thirsty with ample treats and drinks available. The farm also has umbrellas on hand for guests’ comfort in case of rain in this tropical rainforest setting. At the completion of the tour, you can continue to ask questions or tell stories with your fellow guests.
While the farm tour is the biggest reason that people visit Hilo Sharks Chocolate Farm there are many other things to see and do at the farm. The Chocolate Tea Ceremony, which many people book with their tour, is a way to stop and relax after your farm tour. Featuring unique chocolate tea made from cacao nibs, this ceremony lets you spend some quiet moments drinking in the flavorful, chocolaty tea and enjoying the natural setting of the farm.
Another big draw is the Zen Treehouse on the farm. This studio is a small retreat, perfect for a couple who wants a relaxing, natural setting to stay in. The octagonal room includes a skylight above the bed to watch the stars at night. The romantic room includes a kitchenette and a private lanai. You also are close enough to the coast to enjoy ocean views from your retreat.
If making chocolate sounds like the highlight of the tour for you, consider booking one of the separate chocolate-making classes at Hilo Sharks Chocolate Farm. These three-hour classes include brief tours of the grounds before dedicating more time to chocolate making. You get to experience every step of the bean-to-bar process and take some bars home with you after the class.
You don’t have to be a chocolate lover to enjoy a trip to Hilo Sharks Chocolate Farm. This site is a wonderful place for people of all ages to see for themselves the effort required to produce vanilla, coffee, and chocolate. Book a tour or class for an educational and entertaining time on the Hamakua Coast.
-Wear long sleeves and long pants to protect yourself from mosquito bites during the tour. Bring a light jacket in case of rain.
-Book the Chocolate Tea Ceremony before your tour date if you want to attend. You cannot book it the day of your tour.
-Dedicate at least two to three hours to tour the farm.