One of the incredible things about our little gem in the Pacific is our hospitable climate and the incredible variety of things that are and can be grown here. The Hawaiian Islands may be known for delicacies like coffee and macadamia nuts, but there is so much more that flourishes here. Read on for our guide to the best Big Island farm tours.
Our Big Island Bed & Breakfast boasts award-winning estate-grown 100% Kona coffee and beautiful coffee fields to explore, but for an informative tour, look no further than Greenwell Farms. Their Big Island coffee tour is free, doesn’t require a reservation, runs multiple times a day, and gives an inside look at the history, farming, and processing of local coffee.
If you’re looking for something off the beaten track, Buddha’s Cup has a stunning property and even just the drive up there is a scenic adventure. Their tours have price points varying from free (self-guided) to high-end and in-depth- depending on how much time you want to spend and how much of a coffee connoisseur you are.
Sponsored by the Kona Historical Society, the Kona Coffee Living History Farm tells the story of Kona’s coffee pioneers during the early 20th-century history, “brought to life” by costumed interpreters who demonstrate traditional crafts, agricultural activities, and the everyday tasks of people from the past. A self-guided experience, you’re free to walk among the coffee trees, watch how farmers milled and dried their world-famous coffee and visit the original 1920’s farmhouse. There you may find the homemaker starting the fire to cook rice or making musubi for the farmer’s lunch.
The Big Island of Hawaii is also known as the Orchid Isle and with good reason. Orchids thrive here, particularly in the lush climates on the east side of the island. For any flower enthusiast (or any humble admirer of beautiful things), Akatsuka Orchid Gardens are a must-stop (only 10 minutes north of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park). This Hawaii orchid farm is unique in that they are not just wholesale growers, but also has a showroom and retail store available to the public to showcase the beauty and diversity of orchids and other tropical plants.
These expert growers have a stunning variety of orchids including many of their own hybrid breeds. If you see something you want for you own home or garden, they can even ship plants to your doorstep. Since COVID, their tours and showroom hours are limited, but they are open Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 am to 3 pm.
The Hawaiian Vanilla Co. in Pa’auilo was the first commercial grower of vanilla in the US and produces some of the world’s highest quality vanilla beans and products. They offer guided tours of their vanilla vineyards with the optional add-on of a diverse vanilla-inspired luncheon featuring delicious items such as vanilla lemonade, vanilla barbeque sauce, vanilla mango chutney, and homemade ice cream (guess which flavor). Reservations are required.
The Vanillerie is another vanilla farm offering Big Island farm tours and local vanilla-infused products. Located in Kailua Kona, this farm is conveniently only a couple of minutes from Keahole Airport.
Hawaii is the only US state where cacao grows fruitfully. Honoka’a Chocolate Co. offers a 2-hour informative tour on farming, harvesting, fermentation, drying, and resting of the cacao beans as well as a look at the chocolate-making process- from roasting to tempering. No chocolate tour would be complete without a tasting! Sample their award-winning craft chocolate as their guides teach you how to be a true chocolate connoisseur.
Located in Kawaihae, Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company grows, processes, and markets 100 percent Hawai‘i-grown macadamia nuts collected from more than 200, mostly small, farms across the Big Island. Their visitor center is open daily and includes classic macadamia nuts, but also uniquely Hawaiian flavors like Kona coffee glazed, wasabi, chili pepper, and SPAM.
The Big Island has unique plants which produce some incredibly different flavors of honey than you’ll find on the mainland. Hawaiian honey includes varietals like ohia lehua (a flowering tree endemic to Hawaii), macadamia nut, and kiawe (tree similar to mesquite).
Located in historic Kealakekua (Captain Cook), Big Island Bees offers honey farm tours to get a behind-the-scenes look at bees hard at work, all from the safety and security of screened-off areas. Includes an open beehive demonstration during which one of their beekeepers shows where the queen resides, how honey is made, and talks about what makes bees so special. Browse their museum’s artifacts and historical items, peruse the many unique, locally produced gift items, and of course, sample some of the delicious honey. Be sure to try some of their specialties including Hawaiian chili pepper honey, lehua with vanilla bean and lehua with cinnamon.
Imagine sitting under a grove of endemic trees, listening to the gentle breeze while slowly sipping freshly brewed green tea harvested from the fields below. Mauna Kea Tea brings that experience to life with their Big Island farm tour and tea tasting. Take a guided walk of the farm, then relax and sample their fresh natural farmed artisan green teas outdoors in the tea field.
Reminiscent of, but less formal than a Japanese tea ceremony, this quiet experience emphasizes the beauty of nature and of being present. Guides will teach you a few simple steps to appreciate tea, using your senses to detect subtle details of aroma and flavor. Tea snacks are included, and reservations are required.
Little Bit of Everything, Permaculture & Sustainability
Too many farm tours to choose from? How about one with a little bit of everything with Big Island Farms. Spread across 64 acres of property along the breathtaking Hamakua Coast, this farm overlooks the Pacific Ocean with panoramic views from Waipio Valley to Hilo and shares a core value of living sustainably off the land.
Featuring a diverse collection of permaculture food forests, a variety of themed gardens, and coconut orchards, the gardens contain a stunning variety (more than 200) edible and medicinal plants including macadamia, coffee, banana, papaya, cassava, taro, ginger, turmeric, cacao, avocado, breadfruit, coconut, sugar cane, kukui, ti (KI) and more. Learn about regenerative design concepts from passionate guides and sample fresh tropical fruits right off the trees.
You read that right- octopus. As over-fishing depletes wild stocks of marine animals, many are turning to marine aquaculture to supply the ever-increasing global demand for seafood. There is, however, a problem: we still don’t know how to raise many of the species we like to eat- including octopus. How do we breed them in captivity? What do you feed the larval young? Kanaloa Octopus Farm in Kailua Kona is a research facility that seeks to answer these questions. By establishing green processes and biotechnologies for raising octopus for commercial consumption, they hope to contribute to the goal of decreasing demand on wild populations.
One of the ways the farm funds its research is through tours of its facilities. Tours include informative talks as well as a meet and greet where visitors have a chance to see and (if the subjects are willing) even interact with the octopuses. Tours start at 10 am, 2 pm, and 4 pm, and reservations are required (must book online).
Another aquaculture program in Kailua Kona worth a visit is the Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm, a facility specializing in the research, development, and breeding of pet seahorses for home and public aquariums. This farm produces high-quality farm-raised seahorses to supply the global pet seahorse trade, drastically reducing the collection of wild seahorses.
These researchers are dedicated to preserving endangered seahorse species. With more than 30 species, the farm houses the world’s only living gene bank of living, breeding seahorses and sea dragons. On the Kona seahorse farm tour, visitors can see adult and baby seahorses, and pregnant males and can even feed and hold live seahorses. Closed on weekends and reservations are required.
A premium stock of Ezo (Japanese Northern) abalone are grown right here on the Big to serve the world market for premium, live abalone. Abalone are marine snails, highly desired as food by many cultures, and can be eaten raw or cooked.
Big Island Abalone offers tours of their facilities once a day (available in English or Japanese), with a freshly grilled abalone to sample at the end. Live, canned, cooked, and frozen abalone are available to purchase directly from the farm (or have shipped to you) and there is even a food truck on-site to try different preparations of this tasty mollusk.
With so much to see (and taste!) on Hawaii Island, it can never all be done in one trip. Learn more about the vibrant, local fruit, produce, and sea creatures that make this place so special on the best Big Island farm tours. One of the many reasons the Big Island and our Big Island bed and breakfast beckons visitors back again and again.Book Now