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Agri-Tourism on the Big Island
Hawaii’s Big Island is emerging as a popular agri-tourism destination. Agri-tourism include farm visits, tours of farming regions, dude ranches, farm-related bed and breakfast accommodations, and agricultural fairs and festivals.
As vacationers seek more substance during their precious leisure time, Hawaii’s Big Island is quickly surfacing as a destination that offers many unique options. "Agritourism," a rapidly growing entity within more conventionally known definitions of tourism, is one way people can learn more about the place they are visiting.
Agritourism is loosely defined as the overlap between agriculture and tourism. Its components include farm visits, tours of farming regions, ranches and dude ranches, farm-related bed and breakfast accommodations, restaurants serving regional cuisine, living history farms, and even agricultural fairs and festivals celebrating agriculture.
Bed and Breakfasts located on working farms are becoming more popular with the increased interest in agritourism. Farm B&B’s offer Big Island first time and repeat visitors a way to learn more about Hawaii, its natural resources and its people.
Of nearly 5,500 farms statewide offering agritourism activities, over 3,000 are located on the Big Island. Some offer tours, accommodations, activities, and direct retail of their products. Many of these farms boast some of the most diverse crops grown anywhere in the United States and perhaps the world.
The Big Island leads the state in growth, production and export of the majority of Hawaii’s orchard crops. Macadamia nut and Kona coffee are the best known. Other prevalent crops include avocado, banana, guava, mango and papaya. Exotic crops that are also grown locally include carambola, durian, longan, lychee, mangosteen, moya, lilikoi and rambutan. These varied orchard crops are grown on nearly one million Big Island acres, more than all other islands combined.
Carambola, more commonly known as star fruit, has adapted well in Hawaii and is becoming a popular ingredient in Pacific-Rim Cuisine. Rambutan may appear to look more like a cactus than a fruit but once the bright-crimson, soft spiny skin is removed, its pearl white, sweet fruit is the reward. If you would like to sample sweet, fresh-picked papaya or juicy, tree-ripened mango the color of a brilliant sunset, there are numerous choices of farms and ranches that also offer accommodation options. We outline a few for you here.
Spend a night at Macadamia Meadows Bed and Breakfast and begin your morning with a walking tour of their orchard. Learn the history of macadamia farming in Hawaii along with the latest macadamia nutritional research. Try your skill at cracking a fresh nut still in its hard outer shell. Savor the flavor, the freshness of this heavenly nut. If your stay is long enough, you can pick, crack and husk your own bag of nuts to take upon departure.
Guests often select Lucky Farm for their Big Island stay because it reminds them of their own days growing up in the country. Others want to be closer to the land and get a true feeling of the Hawaii they have dreamed of for so long. All are hungry for knowledge. A tour of Lucky Farm greets visitors with fruits they’ve perhaps eaten but never seen actually growing. The coffee they had for breakfast is ripening on the branches of trees just outside the door. Lucky Farm’s proprietor explains it this way, "Our guests are reminded that eggs really do come from chickens and fruit tastes especially wonderful when sun ripened on the tree."
For an "upcountry B&B experience," Kahua Ranch on the slopes of the Kohala Mountains combines its large ranching operation with its farm-related bed and breakfast and offers ATV rides, horseback rides and paniolo BBQs.
A stop at the Fuku-Bonsai Cultural Center and Hawaii State Bonsai Repository in Kurtistown should be a part of your agritourism explorations. The Center is home to a collection of bonsai from some of the top bonsai growers and trainers in the state. They represent artistic potted plants that are some of the most varied in the world. The center offers introductory bonsai workshops where visitors can enjoy the collection, purchase bonsai, learn from the staff and get free workshop instruction and supervision.
Whether staying with a friend, in a luxury resort or a quaint island Bed and Breakfast, you will have experienced agritourism. Each meal you have in any one of the island’s restaurants, whether at the corner café or in an elegant luxury resort, will undoubtedly include much of the produce you see during your island excursions. Island-made goat cheeses, island-grown herbs, fruits and vegetables are highly sought after by Big Island chefs. A part of your Big Island vacation will be even more memorable when it includes a tour of one of the island’s many visitor-friendly farms or ranches.
Hawaii AgriTouirism Association
Beekeepers Association of the Big Island
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