Wonderful Maui Ku’ia Estate Chocolate: A Sweet New Tour in Hawai’i

December 20, 2020 Jim Byers

As if there weren’t enough reasons to head to Maui, now visitors can check out Maui Ku‘ia Estate Chocolate’s Lahaina farm.

As of of Dec. 21, Maui Chocolate Tour offers an exciting first-hand look at how cacao is grown and harvested right on Maui, and then wraps up with a delicious nine-piece tasting among the trees.

Maui Chocolate Tour is a 90-minute guided walking experience, offered Monday through Friday, at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Participants meet at the Ku‘ia Factory located in Lahaina at 78 Ulupono Street, Suite 1, in the Lahaina Business Park and enjoy a 10-minute ride to the farm. The cost is $75 USD for adults (13+) and $55 for children (3-12); due to regulations, children under 3 are not permitted.

All participants must sign a waiver and wear a mask and closed-toed shoes. Group size is limited to seven. Social distancing is required in the shuttle, during the walking tour and the tastings.

As part of the opening promotion, all visitors receive a 10% discount (“aloha10”). Book Maui Chocolate Tour https://www.mauichocolatetour.com 

Cacao thrives in tropical climates, making Hawai‘i the only U.S. state where the fruit (yes, the pods are technically a fruit) can be grown outside of a greenhouse. MKEC’s visionary owner Dr. Gunars Valkirs planted his first trees on 50 acres in Lahaina in 2015, and now crafts the cacao into some of the world’s finest chocolate.

Maui Ku’ia Estate Chocolate Cacao. Photo Courtesy Maui Ku’ia Estate Chocolate

Ku‘ia is Hawai‘i’s largest chocolate factory, where the company creates both Maui Ku‘ia Estate Chocolate (from cacao grown on its 50-acre farm), and Ku‘ia Estate Chocolate (from cacao sourced from a single-origin family farm in Ecuador and in the rainforests of Amazonian Brazil).

“We are so thrilled to open the farm to the public,” said Valkirs. “Growing cacao is an incredible labour of love, and the more we can share the process with our community, the more we fulfill our Chocolate Kuleana (a Hawai’ian word that loosely translates as responsibility).

MKEC’s founding mission is to give back to the Maui community by donating all net profits to Maui nonprofit organizations. 

Maui Ku’ia Estate Chocolate farm in Lahaina. Photo Courtesy Maui Ku’ia Estate Chocolate

Maui Chocolate Tour also offers chocolate tastings at the factory at 2 p.m. Monday – Friday, Adults: $35 and Children: $25.

“This is an amazing insider’s look at some of the world’s best chocolate, from farm to bar,” says Mary Britton, owner of Maui Chocolate Tour.

Valkirs leads chocolate tastings at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Saturdays. The proceeds from the tours on Saturday are donated to Maui Food Bank. Adults: $35.

The tour begins and ends at the Ku‘ia’s retail store, where visitors can pick up chocolate drinks and brownies and other edibles, in addition to a variety of chocolate gift boxes. From the factory’s rooftop Ku‘ia Pavilion, guests can also enjoy a look back up the foothills of the West Maui Mountains to the cacao farm where they just were.

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