Hawaiian Vanilla Company
Hawaii offers a plethora of activity tours, from zip-lining to shark diving (and everything in between). If you look slightly off the beaten-tourist-path, you’ll find one that’s even more exciting: the Hawaiian Vanilla Company, located up in the secluded town of Paauilo of the Big Island. I had a chance to visit the farm back while I was on maternity leave, and I couldn’t help but fall in love.
But then, I lost my hard drive. Because, you know. Not sleeping, mommy brain, and all that jazz. So you can imagine my content when I found it last week (likely sitting right where I had left it). So while the pictures are about 6 months outdated, my love for Hawaiian Vanilla Company is not. Here’s the lowdown.
There are a couple of things that make the Hawaiian Vanilla Company super special and worthy of a stop on your next trip to the Big Island. The Reddekopp family started the business over 15 years ago. They still run it today, with the help of their kids. All 5 of them. I had a chance to chat with the dad, Jim Reddekopp, while I was on property. Not only is he a great storyteller – I mean, can’t you just tell by looking at those expressions? – he’s a born entrepreneur and a true family man as well. And the family’s passion and love comes through in everything they do.
And speaking of what they do… for starters, they grow truly gourmet-quality vanilla beans. While on property, you can take a tour of the farm to learn about the process and history of the company. Admittedly we skipped the formal tour because it was raining and we didn’t have the right gear to keep the baby dry.
I did spent some quality time in the tasting room, where you can order a thoughtful array of vanilla-infused recipes – from vanilla lemonade to vanilla milkshakes topped with lilikoi (passionfruit) curd. Sam and I devoured a bowl of Vanilla Bread Pudding with Rum Butter Topping while we were there. Jim is also working on some small-batch vanilla-infused rum and whisky distilling. You can purchase both products in the gift shop, along with a variety of other vanilla-inspired goodies for sale. All made with love by the Reddekopp family, I might add.
And finally, the “Vanilla Experience Luncheon” and “Upcountry Tea” sell out each week. Look at the menu online and it’s not hard to see why.
You’ll find Hawaiian Vanilla Company’s vanilla extract in many of Hawaii’s favorite local brands including Lanikai Brewery, Roselani Ice Cream, Maui Brewing Company, Waialua Sodas and more.
Can you believe this photo? I barely remember Kai being that tiny. But I DO remember my visit with Jim at the Hawaiian Vanilla Farm clearly. It’s a special place and I know I’ll return again soon. Both to see Jim and for another bite of that AHmazing vanilla bread pudding.