A short summary: delicious treats that are worth the drive.
If you have rented a car and are doing a scenic tour of the Big Island, one of your stops should be a farm. You’ve no doubt heard about the famed coffee beans from Kona, and you will no doubt drive past coffee farm, after coffee farm if you are going through the southern part of the island. If you are a coffee lover, or want to bring back some great coffee beans for your friends, you need to stop at at least one of the farms along your route. However, if you are not a big coffee drinker, or if you love nuts, you must also stop at a macadamia farm. First, you’ll get to see how macadamia nuts are processed which you may find interesting. Second, you’ll get to crack your own nuts. Finally, most importantly, you will get to taste the best macadamia nuts you’ve ever had.
I sampled some nuts at the Ailani Orchards and was amazed at how much better they tasted than store bought ones.
Turns out that one of the reasons is hydration: store bought macadamia nuts are dehydrated. The fresh ones that the attendant cracked for us had a richness that I’d never tasted in macadamias before—or any nuts for that matter. And the packaged macadamias they sold retained 70% of their water, which is much higher than the dry nuts you buy in stores. Needless to say that I bought several bags.
The drive is about an hour and half from Kona. You will need to be careful because the roads are windy, the winds are high, and you are on the edge of a cliff for most of the time. However, you will find farm after farm and it is worth stopping at a farm or two if you have a day to spare or are already driving to Black Sand Beach or Hilo.