Yesterday, (3.15.2008,) we traveled over to Hilo to pick Marnie’s computer up from a computer store. She lost some memory (in her computer, that is...), and they were very helpful. I think it’s called “The Computer Store.” Marnie loves chocolate, and she had been egging us on to visit Mauna Loa, the Macadamia Nut Factory! So we traveled past Hilo (past the airport, on the way towards the Volcano,) and entered Mauna Loa (you’ll see a sign and will turn left a few miles out of Hilo.)
You’ll drive down a long road with all kinds of trees and bush on each side. You’ll wonder quickly where you’re going, and you’ll soon see some signs posted that offer some interesting facts about Mauna Loa: “2500 acres of trees,”
“250,000 Macadamia Trees...” and so on.
Soon, you’ll see a white building at the end of the road. I jokingly told Marnie and the kids that at the end of all these trees was a trailer, just one trailer, that provided all those yummy macadamia nut treats (I grew up in a trailer-park area, so don’t get mad at me!) Well, not quite..... Stick through the ride, because you’re about to enter something that I thought was closer to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory!
We parked the car and entered the visitor’s area. It was a HUGE gift store, and we were immediately greeted by the nicest lady who was offering FREE samples. (My girls went crazy, and I quickly went-off induction (my Atkin’s Diet.))
After sampling several chocolates, my girls found the outdoor food area (see picture,) and Marnie shopped for a while.
The girls and I ordered three flavors of ice cream: chocolate macadamia nut, coffee, and mango fruit. We also ordered a ham and cheese with chips. As we sat down, the area soon filled with tourists, whom I learned were primarily from cruise ship that vis its Hilo.
We sat down and started to feast. As usually happens, my girls quickly exchanged ice cream (between them and from me (Rose grabbed my coffee cone, no surprise since Marnie and I have been coined the “coffee achievers!)” And soon our cones started to disappear. Marnie quickly reappeared with a bag full of goodies. She picked several varieties of Mauna Loa Macadamia treats, and we visited for about an hour looking over the farm of trees. You can tell this place runs a tight ship. It’s clean, efficient, and you can get a feel for the history behind this great idea.
After lunch, we decided to visit the “self-guided tour.” We walked across the lawn and walked the flight of stairs to the factory, where you can watch the processing plant in action. There are T.V. monitors every 50 or so feet, giving you an automated tour. We visited on a Saturday, and I think the plant was slow. During the week, or during “harvesting time” (August-April,) I’m sure this place is a lot more busy. We learned that it takes about 300 lbs of pressure to crack a shell on the macadamia nut. People used to put a board over the nuts and drive their car over the board to crack the nuts. Now, they use high-tech equipment to process the nuts. Your mouth will savor as you watch the process all the way down to wrapping the nuts in the beautifully wrapped boxes.
We finished the tour, went through the gift store one more time, and departed back to Hilo to walk around the “old town.” I hope you enjoy the pictures and this article!