Brought to Hawaii from Australia more than 120 years ago as a small-time agricultural crop and snack for sugar plantation barons, the buttery-rich macadamia nut has since become synonymous with Hawaii souvenirs. If you’re on Oahu, however, there are scarce few places to experience a mac nut orchard firsthand. That is, save Tropical Farms Macadamia Nut Farm north of Kaneohe and not far from the popular Kualoa Ranch. Set back from a traditional Hawaiian fishpond, Oahu-native owners Steve and Chrissy Paty sell Island-made gifts from their red farm store: jewelry, art and cosmetics as well as many unique variations on macadamia nut confections including otherwise hard-to-find caramel, cinnamon or even coffee glazed varieties. Visitors can also embark on the twice-daily hour-long Alii (chief) Tour. Led by guides dressed in traditional Hawaiian garb, tours include a jungle bus excursion to the orchards filled with wild chickens, avocados, starfruit, guava, macadamia nut trees and even cacao bushes; a boat ride through the fishpond within view of the majestic Koolau mountains to learn about traditional Hawaiian life; and a concluding show that includes fire twirling and instruction on how to open a coconut.
Tropical Farms Macadamia Nut Farm can be accessed by public transit (TheBus 42 or 55) or by car; it is located at 49-227A Kamehameha Highway. Several tour companies leaving Waikiki for the North Shore also stop at Tropical Farms and may (or may not) include a version of the Alii Tour. The store is open daily (except major holidays) from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. with public tours departing at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Tours cost $20 for adults, $15 for those with Hawaii or military ID, $10 kids ages 5-12 and free for kids under 4. Tour tickets are cash only and visitors should be advised that there is no on-site ATM.