One is Never Enough: Chocolate Factories on the Big Island

When I watched Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory as a child, I had visions of chocolate rivers and peppermint trees at every factory and I longed to visit one.

And while there aren’t any chocolate rivers at the Mauna Loa Factory or Big Island Candies, these factories are not to be missed.

These two chocolate factories are located on the Hilo side of the Big Island of Hawaii and both provide a sneak peek into the chocolate making process.

Macademia nuts moments before they are covered with chocolate at the Mauna Loa Factory

When approaching the Mauna Loa Factory, you’ll drive through the macadamia nut orchards where the nuts are harvested.  Once at the factory, you can see the operations first hand as you peer through large windows at the factory on their self guided tour.

Stroll along the walkway as you watch the whole process, from the husking of the nuts and covering them in chocolate, all the way to the packaging. And in case you’re craving some of the world famous chocolate covered macadamia nuts, samples are available in the store next to the factory.

From macadamia nuts to macadamia shortbread.

Big Island Candies creates chocolate covered shortbread that melts in your mouth. The shortbread, made with local eggs and high quality ingredients, is hand dipped and flavors range from plain to lemon, from macadamia nut to coffee (using local Kona Coffee).

When you first enter the factory in Hilo, it appears as if it’s only a store until you see the glass wall separating the store from the factory.

Workers hand dipping shortbread at Big Island Candies

As you taste one of the numerous samples provided by the staff, watch the workers in the factory dip shortbread or several other delicious items into chocolate.

Peruse the aisles full of different delicacies from truffles and biscotti, to cookies, brownies and shortbreads. And if you’re not a fan of chocolate, there are plenty of non-chocolate items to choose from. There’s even some unique treats, such as chocolate dipped cuttlefish. Ah, the curious nature…

For more information on both of these chocolate factories, please visit the following:

Mauna Loa
Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Corp
16-701 Macadamia Road
Keaau, Hawaii 96749
Open 8:30am-5:00pm daily except Sundays and holidays.

Big Island Candies
Big Island Candies Headquarters, Chocolate Factory and Gift Shop
585 Hinao Street
Hilo, Hawaii 96720
The gift shop is open from 8:30am-5:00pm 365 days a year and factory operations can be seen Monday – Thursday from 8:30am-3:45pm.

Nadine Nettmann

Nadine has a taste for travel, adventure, delicious food and a great glass of wine. A foodie from a young age, she loves trying meals from around the world and does her best to travel and dine on a budget. Originally from Los Angeles, Nadine and her husband stored 95% of their belongings and moved to Maui with two suitcases in 2006. She is an avid cook and while she loves living on the island, she will admit she misses some of her kitchen appliances in storage. When she’s not baking a cake or out on the water, she can be found at her computer working on her novel.

  1. Aloha Nadine:

    I’ve been enjoying your articles. How would you like to lead some culinary tours on Maui? I’m launching a new Hawaiian culinary tour company later this year.

    I could provide you with some additional income doing what you love to do. Send me an email if you’re interested.


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