Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Chocolate in Hawai‘i

Hawai‘i is best known for crops like coffee and macadamia nuts, but did you know that Hawai‘i is the only in the United States where chocolate (cacao) is grown?

Hawaii-grown cacao.
Native to South America, cacao was first planted in Hawai‘i in 1850. Although there are only a handful of farmers in the state that grow cacao, the year-round tropical climate provides an excellent environment for cultivating this gourmet crop. Here in the Big Island, Original Hawaiian Chocolate processes thousands of pounds of seeds each year at a farm in Keauhou. Other enterprising farmers and residents have also experimented with trees on their properties, providing cacao to local chocolate makers who sell their homemade chocolates at the farmers' markets.

Celebrating all things chocolate, this year's Big Island Chocolate Festival culminates with a gala at The Fairmont Orchid on Saturday, March 23 from 5:30 to 10 p.m. The event features Chef Donald Wressell of Guittard chocolates, and Chef Christophe Feyt, the executive pastry chef at the Las Vegas Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino. Both celebrity chefs will demonstrate their deliciously decadent chocolate sculpture at the gala. In addition, there will be oodles of intoxicating offerings made by top local chefs and confectioners to tantalize the taste buds of those in attendance.

The three-day festival, which begins on March 21, also features plantation tours at the Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory in Keauhou, located just a few short miles from Holualoa Inn. To reserve a chocolate plantation tour, phone 808-322-2626. For details on chocolate seminars and online ticket sales, visit Proceeds from the festival will benefit local culinary education.

Innkeeper Holualoa Inn

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Trip to Parker Ranch

In the cattle ranching business for more than 160 years, Parker Ranch encompasses 130,000 acres on Hawai‘i's Big Island. Today, most of the ranch's prime grazing lands are located at higher elevations in North Kohala, where herds of Charolais/Angus/Hereford cattle, quarter horses and bulls roam the vast pasturelands. The Ranch owns more than 19,000 head of cattle pastured — from the foothills to the valleys of Waiemi, Waiki‘i, Makahalau, Paauhau and Kohala.

The Ranch was founded in 1847 by John Palmer Parker, who arrived on the Big Island from Massachusetts. After marrying the granddaughter of King Kamehameha I, Kipikane, he purchased their first two acres of land for $10. Six generations of the Parkers owned and operated the Ranch until the passing of Richard Palmer Parker in 1992. The Ranch is now owned by the Parker Ranch Foundation Trust.

John Palmer Parker
To give you an idea of its enormous size, the Ranch includes 850 miles of fencing, more than 300 paddocks, 145 water tanks, 650 water troughs and 175 miles of pipeline. Annual beef production of Parker Ranch's cow-calf operation totals more than 10 million pounds. Needless to say, Parker Ranch is the largest producer of grass-feed beef in the state of Hawai‘i. You can find grass-fed beef at the local grocery stores here on the Big Island, and served at many restaurants along the Kohala Coast and in Kailua-Kona.

If you are staying at Holualoa Inn, it's a short 35-minute drive to Waimea, where Parker Ranch is headquartered. Depending on the time of year, you might be able to catch a local rodeo at the Ranch, or tour some of the ranch's historic homes. Parker Ranch Shopping Center features plenty of Ranch souvenirs and memorabilia. The Paniolo Heritage Center at Pukalani Stables showcases the Paniolo Hall of Fame.

Innkeeper Holualoa Inn

Friday, February 8, 2013

Whale Encounters in Kona

It's whale season in Hawai‘i, that time of year when the humpbacks migrate from Alaska to our warm waters to breed and give birth. Incredible whale sightings are happening all up and down the Big Island's leeward coast — from Kealakekua Bay in South Kona, along the coast of Kailua-Kona, up the Kohala Coast, off the shores of Kawaihae and beyond.

Check out this amazing footage of a whale encounter that took place the other day in Kona, courtesy of from Sunlight on Water:

Click here for uncut footage of Whale Encounter

Holualoa Inn is located just a short drive to ocean, where visitors can view whales from the comfort of the shoreline or from whale-watching vessels that depart daily out of Honokohau Harbor or Kailua Pier. Our Holualoa Inn Ohana can give you helpful tips and advice about whale watching on the Big Island.

Innkeeper Holualoa Inn