Welcome to the Nut House: Macadamia Farms Offer Lodgings

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CAPTAIN COOK, Hawaii -- Here's a nutty idea for clients who want something different: A stay at a macadamia nut farm on the Big Island.

The Big Island is home to more than 700 macadamia nut farms. Some of those farms offer overnight stays, giving the visitor a glimpse of a $38 million yearly agricultural market.

Some of the inns, like Macadamia Meadows, a small inn in the southern part of the island near Naalehu, offer a full-on nut experience, with tours and presentations and hands-on picking and cracking. Some merely offer quietude among the orchards.

The one thing they all have in common: all pay commission to travel agents.

"I had a guy the other day who told me he wanted to pick nuts the entire day -- and he did," said Charlene Cowan, proprietor of Macadamia Meadows.

The Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Corporation has a 2,500 acre orchard and factory near Hilo where visitors can view macadamia nut processing, see a video and walk the orchard, not to mention buying loads of nuts. The type of client who ends up at a place such as Macadamia Meadows is someone who might enjoy picking nuts all day just for fun, but "is certainly not everyone we get." Cowan said. "People are looking for a peaceful setting though, and that's what we have."

Macadamia Meadows has five rooms with rates ranging from $65 per night to $125, including breakfast. It also has a swimming pool and a tennis court.

The inn sits on a farm where guests can tour the orchard, pick nuts, crack them and learn about the whole process in a free, 30-minute presentation.

"I have a hand-cranked sheller and we let people run that, so the whole thing is a real earthy experience," said Cowan. "But not everyone takes the tour. "

Cowan said her clients tend toward more educated and adventurous types. "We seem to get a lot of botanists and biologists," she said.

For more information, call (888) 929-8118 or visit www.macadamiameadows.com.

At the Lions' Gate Bed & Breakfast near Kealakekua Bay south of Kailua-Kona, Diane Shriner runs a 10-acre macadamia nut and coffee farm in addition to her inn.

Shriner said her clientele is primarily from the West Coast. "We get researchers from universities and a lot of computer people, and people from just about every walk of life."

The Lions' Gate has four rooms with rates that range from $110 per night to $165, including breakfast.

For more information, call (800) 955-2332 or visit www.kona-coffee-country.com/lionsgate.

The following is a list of some of the other inns on the Big Island that offer a macadamia nut experience and who work with travel agents:

• Affordable Hawaii at Pomaikai Farm near Captain Cook is a small inn with three rooms sitting on a four-acre macadamia nut and coffee farm. Rates, with breakfast, are $55 to $65 for two.

For more information, call (800) 325-6427 or visit www.luckyfarm.com.

• The Inn at Kulaniapia Falls near Hilo has a 22-acre macadamia nut farm and its own 120-foot waterfall.

Four suites go for $99 per night with breakfast.

For more information, call (808) 966-6373 or visit www.waterfall.net.

• The Bayview Inn near Honaunau and Kealakekua Bay has four rooms with rates ranging from $80 to $115 per night with breakfast.

The property sits on a 40-acre macadamia plantation. For more information, call (866) 265-7978 or visit www.konabayviewinn.com.

• The Hale Aloha Guest Ranch has five rooms on a macadamia nut and citrus farm in Honaunau.

Rates with breakfast range from $63 to $180 per night.

For more information, call (800) 897-3188 or visit www.halealoha.com.

• The Rainbow Plantation is on a seven-acre macadamia nut and coffee plantation near Kealakekua Bay south of Kailua-Kona.

Rates with breakfast run from $75 to $95 per night.

For more information, call (800) 494-2829 or visit www.rainbowplantation.com.

Getting nutty in Hawaii

HILO -- In addition to staying at Macadamia nut farms, visitors here can take tours of orchards and processing plants.

The following are three sites recommended by the Hawaii Macadamia Nut Association where visitors can learn more about macadamia nuts:

• Big Island Candies in Hilo offers self-guided tours of a macadamia nut factory. Open 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily, it also sells the nuts and has a gift shop.
For details, call (808) 935-8890.

• Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Corp., six miles from Hilo, has a 2,500-acre orchard and a processing factory. Self-guided tours of both are offered. The facility also is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily.
For details, call (888) 628-6256.

• Kona Coast Macadamia Nut & Candy Factory, near Honaunau, sells the nuts and gifts. It is open Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
For more information, call (808) 328-8141.

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