Big Island Macadamia Nuts
What You Need to Know About Big Island Macadamia Nuts
Among the Big Island’s most prized assets is the booming macadamia nut industry. Two major nut processors in the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Corporation and the Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company lay claim to much of the fertile growing regions, but independent growers and smaller producers have begun to crop up in the recent years, making a visit to a macadamia nut farm a perfect – and tasty – outdoor adventure for visitors and locals alike.
Where to Find Macadamia Nuts on the Big Island
The state of Hawaii is home to more than 700 macadamia nut farms covering over 20,000 acres, making it the largest producer of the delicious nut in the United States by an overwhelming margin. Brought to the Big Island in the 1920s in a commercial setting, the output reached peak macnut mania in the ‘80s with a ringing endorsement by Magnum, P.I. superstar John Hillerman. Since then, the crop has been neck-and-neck with Kona Coffee as the island’s most prized agricultural export.
Virtually anywhere you go on the Big Island, you’ll run into macadamia nuts. Crusted into seafood dishes, used as a garnish for breakfast meals, and produced with chocolates, cookies, and other treats, it’s difficult to eat out on Hawaii’s Big Island without encountering the nut as a signature ingredient. Likewise, a trip to any Hawaiian grocery store will find plenty of macadamia nut goodies and by-products.
Big Island Macadamia Nut Farm Tours
Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Corporation
16-701 Macadamia Road
Keaau, Hawaii 96749
Open 8:30-5 M-F
A Hershey company-owned producer of macadamia nut products on a global scale, the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Corporation isn’t just the largest producer on the Big Island, it’s one of the largest entities present on the island itself. With multiple flavors, combined ingredients with an on-site chocolate processing facility, and more volume than any other company on the island, a trip to the visitor’s center provides the insight and taste you’re looking for in a macadamia nut tour. Self-guided and open to the public, you’re guaranteed a tasty and interesting exploration at every step along the way.
A convenient and tasty by-product of the former sugar trade on the Big Island, the Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company was formally founded in 1994 and has become a major producer of macadamia nuts and related products, helping boost the Hawaiian macnut market #3 in the world. Committed to hiring local employees and partnering with smaller locally-owned farms, the company’s visitors center is a shining example of the history, culture, and process of living the macadamia nut life. Tours to their factory are self-guided, but provide free samples, coffee, and a unique look at the processing and sorting facility that works through millions of pounds per year.
Health Benefits of Macadamia Nuts
While high in both fat and calories, macadamia nuts are surprisingly good for you in multiple ways. The majority of fats in these nuts are, however, beneficial to the cardiovascular system, supporting healthy heart function. Furthermore, studies suggest that diets with regular macadamia nut intake may reduce both LDL and total cholesterol levels as well as provide much-needed fiber to your diet.