Helicopter ride near Mauna Loa and a visit to Lavaloha Chocolate Farm
We took a helicopter ride with Big Island Safari Helicopters from the Hilo Airport in hopes of seeing Mauna Loa's eruption..
As we were leaving the airport, we flew over a macadamia nut farm outlined by the tall trees arranged in squares.
This is the giant Kilauea volcano. No lava was visible when we flew over; just lots of steam.
This is Mauna Loa erupting. We not on the side where we could see the lava flowing down the mountain, but we were told this lava was shooting 500’ in the air. Obviously we weren’t close enough to get roasted, but it was an incredible site to see!
Lavaloha Chocolate Farm
Afterwards we drove to a chocolate where we were driven through the orchard and then shown how the chocolate if made.
Ripe pods are picked and cut open. Sees, or “beans” and juicy white pulp are stopped out of the husk.
Beans and pulp are put into large containers and fermented for about 7 days. The beans are turned about
once per day. Then the beans are gently roasted. This is where they start to develop chocolatey flavors and aromas.
Winnowing: The beans are then cracked open and their thin, papery shells are blown away with fans, leaving “cocoa nibs."
Grinding: The cocoa nibs are ground into "cocoa liquor” a paste that can be pressed to separate the cocoa powder from cocoa butter.
Conching: the cocoa liquor is refined and smoothed in a conch. Sugar, milk, and other flavors are added.
After we left the chocolate farm we drove to Rainbow Falls. Luckily, the falls were located by a parking lot because it started pouring down rain right when we got back in the car.