When we landed in Hilo, our hotel room wasn’t ready, so after dropping our bags, we quickly got back into our car and headed back out. We didn’t have a plan for this contingency but ended up having an impromptu Big Island Chocolate Adventure of sorts.
The Big Island has long been the epicenter of Hawaii’s chocolate production. However, about a decade ago, that began to change, as major players on Oahu and Kaua’i begin to steal away the limelight. You know the companies I’m talking about – Waialua Estate Chocolate, Manoa Chocolate, Kahuku Farms Chocolate, Lydgate Chodolate, Madre Chocolate, Lonohana Chocolate, and more. But, in recent years, Big Island producers began popping up again. The latest of these are Puna Chocolate and Honoka’a Chocolate, both of which we visited.
Big Island Chocolate Adventure
I’ve covered Puna Chocoalte before, but we did pay them a visit during our Big Island chocolate adventure. Before heading out of Hilo, we did pop in for a bit for Mrs. Island Miler to grab a frozen hot chocolate, and so that we could browse around their shop.
Stop two of our Big Island chocolate adventure was a first-timer for us, though I’ve had their chocolate before – Honoka’a Chocolate. Their shop, in the town of Honoka’a, wasn’t around until just recently. The same is true of their cacao farm. In fact, much of the cacao processed into bars here are from other countries or other farms on the Big Island. They do sell a tree-to-bar chocolate, but availability is extremely limited.
All that said, when visiting Honoka’a Chocolate, there are two different experiences you can go for – a farm tour, or just a chocolate tasting at their flagship shop. We did the latter, as this was an unplanned visit.
As you can see in the above photo, parking at Honoka’a Chocolate’s flagship store is street only. We weren’t able to park directly in front of the store, but we were able to find parking roughly a one-minute walk away.
The store itself is quite small, and there isn’t much to see. But that’s ok, that’s ok. They sell chocolate bars here – you don’t really have to browse here. That’s because your shopping adventure is so much better than just taking a look – you taste!
During our visit, we got to enjoy a complimentary chocolate tasting. Here, an employee brings out jars with sample sizes of all of their bars, gives you the sample-size pieces of chocolates, and explains what they are, how they’re made, and a bit about their flavor profiles. It’s a great, informative experience, especially if you’ve never had Honoka’a chocolate before.
To say we had fun at Honoka’a Chocolate would be an understatement. We walked out of there with a shocking amount of chocolate.
What’s good, you ask? It depends on your preferences. I’m typically a fan of pure, dark chocolate, which I love here, but I also loved their Bourbon Bar and the Coconut Milk Dark Bar. The Bourbon Bar is reminiscent of a Rolo but of much higher quality, with a slight hint of alcohol. The Coconut Dark Milk, on the other hand, was a surprise to me, as I’m usually a never-milk kind of guy, but this one was a fantastic combination of deep, dark chocolate, offset a bit by a light creaminess from the coconut milk.
One of these days, we need to have an actual Big Island chocolate adventure by touring these two farms. But, for now, our impromptu Big Island chocolate adventure was interesting, fun, and delicious. I wholeheartedly recommend checking out these spots when you’re on island; just plan accordingly. Honoka’a is quite a drive out of town, while Puna Chocolate is right in the middle of Hilo town.