Just south of Hilo is a large stretch of land near to my heart. Why? Because the greatest nut of all is produced in delicious mass quantities there. I am of course talking about the fabled Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Farm. As I write this I happen to be enjoying their Maui Onion & Garlic flavored nuts.
Nikki and I drove down its long 3 mile drive way, passing by many of the 2,500 acres of over 250,000 trees, to arrive at the magic factory where millions of pounds of macadamia nuts are shelled, roasted, and flavored each year. Despite the large production output, the factory is quite small and the only tour is a self guided tour on which you can stare in the windows and watch the employees about their day. Did I feel like a creeper? Yes. However, there are a few educational short videos at a few of the viewing stations to help. Apparently the macadamia nut is the hardest of all nuts, probably designed so only the gods could access the deliciousity. But mankind laughs in the face of nature’s intentions, and once we built cars it was decided that the best way to access the glorious kernel was to line them up under a big plank and drive over the little bastards. Eventually more advanced machinery was developed and there is now a streamlined process.
After the self guided tour we wandered into the nearby orchard, though this is probably not the intent of Mauna Loa. However, my curiosity was too great and I had to see the great Mac in the ‘wild’ or at least on a maintained tree. The trees themselves are unassuming and if I hadn’t known that we were amongst the macadamia trees I probably would not have suspected that they held such bounty. The ground is littered with fallen nuts and upon closer inspection we could spot the nuts growing on the branches.
Across the parking lot from the factory is the company store/gift shop. No trip would be complete without visiting the sample counter within. We were a little disappointed to learn that not all the flavors are available in all the packaging sizes, but there is a large variety of savory, plain, sweet, and spicy (teriyaki wasabi!).