ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Kauai Travel - The Steelgrass Chocolate Farm Tour

Updated on August 4, 2015

Steelgrass Farms Cacao Trees

Newly planted cacao trees at Steelgrass Farms
Newly planted cacao trees at Steelgrass Farms | Source

Growing Chocolate on Kauai

On our annual visits to Kauai, we try to spend one day doing something touristy and unusual. On landing at the Kauai airport, I grab a handful of brochures that fill the racks in the baggage claim area and then later, make a decision about what to do. On our most recent visit, I picked up a brochure from Steelgrass Chocolate Farms, which offers a tour called "Chocolate From Branch to Bar." The tour runs three hours in the morning, $60 per person (in 2008,) reservations required.

I called the number listed on the brochure and a friendly Tony Lydgate answered. He took my reservation and offered to bring me a map with driving directions later in the day. True to his word, the map was waiting for us that evening at our hotel in Kapaa.

On the appointed day, we drove out to the farm, located in the Wailua Homesteads area above Kapaa. We easily found the farm - essentially Tony Lydgate's huge backyard - and parked behind his house.

Tony almost immediately walked over to meet us. It was raining that morning, but the downpour was brief and warm. Three other couples soon drove up, and the tour began.

Steelgrass Farms covers about 8 acres of land. Nearly every planting was brought in by the Lydgates and started as a seed or cutting. The result is impressive: a bamboo forest lines a babbling brook, vanilla bean orchids ramble, citrus and avocado trees hang heavy with fruit.

As we walked, Tony picked fruit from his trees for us to sample - blood orange, crunchy-sweet star fruit, creamy zutano avocado, starchy apple banana. He plucked leaves from the kaffir lime tree and rubbed them together beneath our noses so we could drink in the strong lime scent. It was, more than anything, a walk for the senses

Then there were the cacao trees. This, obviously Tony's passion, was where the story-telling became earnest and intense. It is Tony Lydgate's dream to grow chocolate for commercial purposes, in a co-operative sense. At the time of our visit, Tony estimated that in three years, he'd have enough trees and enough interest in co-operative chocolate farming to make it work.

Tony explained how the fruit grows, how it is harvested, and how it becomes chocolate as we know it. Sitting under a canopy in his garden, he opened a cacao pod and dug out some seeds. We passed them around for a taste. The seeds were bitter, but not unpleasant. Just not chocolate as we know it. We then began chocolate tasting in earnest.

We sampled about a dozen different chocolates from around the world. Some were chalky, some bitter, some smooth and sweet. We ranked them, and were mildly surprised that the most expensive chocolate were not necessarily our favorite. I liked the bitter chocolates best, but they had to be smooth. My top pick: Valrhona. My second favorite: Hershey's Special Dark.

Our tour ended with a peek into Tony Lydgate's vision of Kauai's cooperative cacao farming. Everyone on Kauai works two, sometimes three jobs. There was no reason, he said, that every family in Kauai couldn't grow a few cacao trees, harvest the fruit for the co-op, and get a check for their troubles. It would not be enough to pay the mortgage, but it would be a way for a family to supplement their incomes.

If you find yourself on Kauai in search of an unusual and low-key tour, consider giving Steelgrass Chocolate Farm a call. If the 8-acre garden doesn't amaze you, Tony Lydgate's vision for a chocolate cooperative in Kauai most certainly will inspire.

More About Chocolate Co-ops In Hawaii

Cacao is currently grown, harvested and made into commercial chocolate on the Big Island of Hawaii by the Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory.

In 2008, Steelgrass Chocolate Farm in Kauai was the only cacao farm in Kauai open for public tours. At the time of our tour, It did not yet produce chocolate for commercial use. By 2013, there were at two other chocolate farms on Kauai open for public tours.

An article about Steelgrass Chocolate Farm by the Star Bulletin can be found at: http://starbulletin.com/2007/12/23/travel/tsutsumi.html



Comments

Submit a Comment

  • PaperNotes profile image

    PaperNotes 

    8 years ago

    Yummy hub!That is one trip to look forward too. I especially like the chocolate tasting part.

  • pinkhawk profile image

    pinkhawk 

    8 years ago from Pearl of the Orient

    wow...chocolicious!..I didn't know that it's in Hawaii.. thank you for sharing! :)

working

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

Show Details
Necessary
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Features
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Marketing
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Statistics
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)