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Koa Kahili

Guide at a Glance

  • Locations

    Kilauea, Hawaii, United States

  • Activities

    Farm Tour, Sightseeing

  • Languages

    English

Guide Bio

I spent 9 years in various colleges, traveling the world, receiving my undergraduate degree with honors from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a Masters in Polynesian/South East Asian Art History from the University of Hawaii. On my extensive travels I delighted in the different regional foods and always visited the local markets. My friends called me a picky eater, I like to think of myself as a gourmet foodie. A lot of people ask how I got into growing and making chocolate. I can remember my first encounter with a cacao tree while foraging in the jungle on Kauai over 15 years ago. I instinctively knew it was a special tree and had a very strong suspicion is was a cacao tree. I had never seen one before and I was compelled to pick one of the bright yellow pods and taste a seed. It did not taste like chocolate.  I was always mystified how they got chocolate flavor out of the cacao beans.

Soon I got into the cacao farming and chocolate making business. We are in a renaissance of chocolate making. The ancient Mayans and other Mesoamerican cultures were far more advanced in their understanding and use of cacao. We are just scratching the surface in terms of chocolate being used as a medicine and sacrament. After all these centuries we are just beginning to relearn the secrets of chocolate. It is the current slow food, organic, fair trade movement that is facilitating the awareness of where our food is really coming from and how it was treated along the way.

Ultimately the cacao grown on Kauai will become part of a sustainable agricultural crop that will nourish generations to come. Cacao enables us the opportunity to become closer to the land, to understand the complexities of the natural environment and how we fit into the web of life.

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