Hiking For Chocolate – A Visit to Kauai Botanical Gardens

Have I pulled you in? There’s more! Fresh air and exercise, beautiful grounds, flowers and fruit, family history and enthusiastic guides. We love Kauai’s North Shore and each time we go, we try to find at least one thing we haven’t done before. This time it was touring a botanical garden.

Hiking the Property

Kauai Botanical Gardens is nestled within a neighborhood of Princeville. The warnings on the website are cautionary, but with good reason. There are inclines, natural trails and bridges that get slippery when it rains. Fortunately, the weather was perfect. Sunny, not too hot, and no mosquitos…..yet. On a good day, unless you have mobility challenges, I would consider this an easy hike. For the physically fit, it’s more of a stroll. The gardens are on private property, developed by the Robertson family as a hobby over 20 years ago, and later expanded into public tours (see preceding link.) The owners and guides are prepared for the unprepared visitor, offering safety tips, walking sticks, umbrellas, bug repellent, restrooms and cool water. Billed as a three hour tour, there are plenty of opportunities to pause and rest in this beautiful setting. We ended up not needing the walking sticks, but I still posed for this shot. Along side of me is one of several red sealing wax palms along the way.

Fruits and Flowers

The gardens grew over time, through land acquisition and continued plantings, to reach a total of 9 acres of fruit trees and exotic plants. Below is a sample of the flowers. Does anyone know what that blackish purple one is? During the tour, we were given tastes of things grown on the property; dragon fruit, coconut, chocolate nibs, etc. At the right time of year, you can taste the honey. The guides will also tell you what not to eat, as some of the plants are toxic (see Angel Trumpet, bottom middle photo.)

The Chocolate Tasting

Imagine a blind taste test of several wines, only instead of liquid in glasses, you are tasting little blocks of chocolate carefully wrapped in paper and numbered. I was too fascinated with the process to take pictures. There were 30 of us sniffing and tasting chocolate and even commenting on its texture. The children were getting into it too…..”it tastes bitter, smells like raisins, has something crunchy in it.” The cocoa beans were grown in a variety of countries, as well as the production of the chocolate bars. Though not commercially available, we also got to taste the home made chocolate from their own cocoa beans.

And the Winner Is…..

Although we loved the home made chocolate, we picked a 70% dark chocolate made from cocoa beans grown at Bejofo Estate in Sambirano Valley, Madagascar . It tasted of berries. To our surprise, the bars are actually produced in Salt Lake City, Utah. Tasting notes of “tangy citrus, bright berries and red fruit,” according to the packaging disclosed in the “big reveal,” meant our taste buds were on target. Not to our surprise, the gift shop was out of this chocolate. Guess who was not out of it? Amazon. This did not remove the “exotic” from our experience and we highly recommend visiting this garden.

I like my blogs short and bitter sweet….like a bite of dark chocolate. Before we part, if you’ve ever been to the North Shore of Kauai, what are your favorite things to do?

9 thoughts on “Hiking For Chocolate – A Visit to Kauai Botanical Gardens

  1. Never been to the Hawaiian Islands, but I think they are in my future now that I live on the west coast of North America! I love visiting botanical gardens when I am travelling. This place looks wonderful. Thank you for sharing, Tracey!



    • Hi Deb! Yes, we enjoyed a much shorter flight now that we are on the west coast. Like any state/country, we found a variety of experiences in Hawaii. For us, Kauai had the best balance of tranquility and activity. Plus, it’s a nice break from the sometimes gloomy winter of the Pacific Northwest.


      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wait a minute, chocolate, Kauai, hiking, and botanical gardens – are you kidding! Of course, you got my attention. This place looks very interesting and is definitely the sort of thing I would seek out there. Please do tell us more about your trip. I envy your proximity there from the West Coast.


  3. You’ve MORE than pulled me in! I want dark chocolate and wine, which pair wonderfully of course. 😉 We’ve been watching “White Lotus” lately, which of course takes place in Maui and not Kauai, but nevertheless has given me urges to go back to the islands. I spent a very short few days in Kauai. I remember the Spouting Horn, but that’s on the south side not the north. Other than that I just remember it rained A LOT! Have fun! – Marty


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