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“Educational farming”

Hawaiian Vanilla Company
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$223.96*
and up
Hawaii Island Experience
Ranked #1 of 1 things to do in Paauilo
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Reviewed August 15, 2012 via mobile

Great tour and fabulous lunch. 
Very fascinating to learn how vanilla is grown on Hawai'i and how a family is pioneering new techniques on growing methods. 

A must for people who love vanilla and people who love agriculture.  

1  Thank Tsftpc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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526 - 530 of 572 reviews

Reviewed August 10, 2012

If you're going to make the trek to this place, you should plan on doing the lunch experience, since that is what is clearly the most educational and entertaining about the place, and it is indeed awesome. As is explained in some detail during the lunch presentation, the company is a family business and most of the help are members of the family, all the way down to their younger children. You also find out a good bit about the nuts and bolts of vanilla production, which is at times unbelievably labor intensive. And for good measure, you are coached in good uses for vanilla for cooking and how to make your own (and superior) vanilla extract. In addition to a huge variety of vanilla based products offered, you can buy one or more rather pricey bean pods ($10 each) so as to make you own vanilla extract using an alcohol product of your choice (vodka is what they recommend). That's not as steep as it might at first appear, since a single pod will produce more than 12 ounces of high quality extract (a process that takes some months).

For the foodies, the lunch is absolutely delicious, with everything flavor enhanced by use of vanilla (note that does not mean pronounced vanilla taste or aroma ... vanilla serves to bring out what we like best about the foods it is used to enhance, although if you look for it, you will probably taste a light bit of vanilla in most of the dishes served). The meal wraps up with a generous scoop of the company's very delicious and rich vanilla ice cream. One interesting factoid, the vanilla seeds you find in even high end vanilla ice cream are for decoration, having been already exhausted in making vanilla extract.

The tour is almost a bit of an after thought, with more talk about vanilla production and a short walk to the shade house where vines are being started. According to the son of the owner (who took care of our group), the labor intensive nature of production means the emphasis for the company will increasingly be on the tourism side of things (i.e., the lunch experience and product sales) and helping other locals get started on production (a single plant can produce a lot of very valuable beans). Domestic vanilla production today only occurs in small operations like this one, with large scale production only occurring in countries where labor costs are very low.

It is also worth noting that given this place's proximity to Hilo, there are a number of other interesting excursions in the immediate area (e.g., Waipio valley overlook, the Mauna Kea summit road) so you can easily add on to this experience with other trips for a truly memorable day.

1  Thank JAXers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 26, 2012

This is a fun and unusual experience for your senses -- mouthwatering, creative food, enticing smells, beautiful views, interesting/entertaining explanations about this frequently misunderstood flavor. Plus the ice cream, which is a totally indulgent sensual delight. Definitely go for the lunch as well as the tour, and ABSOLUTELY call to make reservations in advance. (They had to turn people away when I was there, and those folks were sad because they could smell the delicious food being prepared.) Our 18 year old tour guide Ian was very knowledgeable and gave clear explanations. He was also pretty entertaining with a great sense of humor.

I suggest going early because you'll likely get lost on the way, it can be a bit tricky to find. But worth it.

Thank GoldenRings
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 25, 2012

The Hawaiian Vanilla Co. is an amazing place to visit for afternoon tea and the best baked goods in the world. They are so nice and greet you with warm chocolate chip cookies! The hospitality is wonderful, full of spirit and pleasantness. You can see right into the kitchen of the women baking cakes and cookies to sell. Everything is delicious (using their own vanilla) and you get your choice of teas- served in their dinning area. They also have gourmet food events, luncheons and dinners. Check their schedule. You won't be disappointed.
It is just a short scenic drive from the highway into the rain forest, but beautiful! Take your camera.

Thank Donna S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 18, 2012

The vanilla infused food was delicious! Also, the owner's eldest, Ian did a great job of explaining the ins and outs of the farm and how vanilla is started all the way to the end products which you can purchase many of them in their gift shop.
This spot was very much worth the visit!

Thank jesody
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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