KOHALA COAST, HAWAI‘I ISLAND—It’s a three-day celebration of everything chocolate during the 11th Big Island Chocolate Festival April 25-27. Delicious fun culminates with the “Mystical Chocolate Masquerade” gala, offering walkabout booths for savory and sweet chocolate-inspired culinary creations at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa. Dress up and wear a mask!

In addition to 18 savory and sweet culinary selections, gala guests can enjoy specialty beers by Kona Brewing Company and Ola Brew, unlimited wine, plus a chocolate fountain. The festival opens with a traditional Hawaiian blessing by Lila “Malani” Deaguiar. Kona Dance and Performing Arts presents an edgy Vangelis and Pink Floyd mashup and a hip-hop “Vivaldi Remix.” Also wowing guests with dramatic Polynesian fire dancing is Ho‘omalu and Tiana of Tiana Productions. Live music by Jazz Gardners opens the dance floor. Interactive fun includes People’s Choice voting, a pop-up photo booth, face/mask painting and silent auction. In addition, attendees can enter to win VIP tickets for 2025 by posting photos of themselves wearing decorative masks on social media.  

Educational Activities Detailed

Find out if chocolate grows on trees 9-10 a.m. Thursday, April 25 on a guided plantation and tasting tour at Kona’s Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory. Visit a producing cacao orchard in Keauhou and see how the coveted cocoa bean is carefully processed. Tickets are $30 each or $50 for two with a chance to win a $20 gift card at The Chocolate Shoppe. The rest of the activities are at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort. 

April 26 Farm Seminars 1-5 p.m.: $40 for all three, $60 for two attendees 

• 1 p.m.:  “Pono Cacao, the Inspiration Behind Farming Exploitation-Free Chocolate,” is presented by Ethan Swift, founder of The Chocolate Sommelier School. The Hawaii Island based-school shares info on the history and culture of chocolate, the science behind its production and the art of tasting and evaluating chocolate. 

• 2:15 p.m.:  “Unlocking the Secrets of Cacao Fermentation from Small Farms to Large-Scale Success” is led by Maddy Smith, of Hawai‘i Island craft chocolate company Cocoa Rose Hawaii. Maddy is the founder of chocolate eco-tourism company Barefoot Chocolatini and former president of the East Hawaii Cacao Association. 

• 3:30 p.m.: “Learn How to Temper for Commercial-Grade Chocolate” is presented by world pastry champion Chef Stéphane Tréand, MOF Pâtissier Chocolatier and co-owner of Francium Chocolate. Chef offers tips on tempering chocolate and crafting chocolate pieces for a sculpture to be constructed during a Saturday 12:15 p.m. demonstration. 

April 27 Culinary Demonstrations $79 for all three 

• 9-10:30 a.m.: “How to Make Bonbons” – with Kona Village, A Rosewood Resort Executive Pastry Chef Helen Hong. 

• 10:45 a.m.-Noon: “Chocolate-Infused Savory Dish” facilitated by The Westin Maui Resort & Spa, Ka‘anapali Executive Chef Yoshikazu Kizu. 

• 12:15-2 p.m.: “Creating an Artistic Chocolate Showpiece” by world pastry champion Chef Stéphane Tréand, MOF PâtissierChocolatier and co-owner of Francium Chocolate. Chef is a master at crafting all kinds of chocolate treats and standout sculptures. Always a favorite activity at the festival, Chef demonstrates how to mold and color chocolate for structurally building a showpiece sculpture. The masterpiece will be on display during the festival gala.

All event tickets are sold online and additional tax and ticketing fees apply. General admission gala tickets are $99. The silent auction bidding opens online noon April 22 to benefit 2024 non-profit beneficiaries: Hawai’i Institute of Pacific Agriculture, Kona Dance & Performing Arts and Hawai‘i Keiki Museum. Support provided by Hawai‘i Tourism Authority through the Community Enrichment Program. Details:

The mission and goal of KCA is to promote the cacao industry on the Island of Hawai‘i by presenting the Big Island Chocolate Festival as an educational and outreach opportunity for local cacao farmers, the hospitality industry and cacao enthusiasts. 

Mahalo to 2024 Big Island Chocolate Festival sponsors: Hawai‘i Tourism Authority through the Community Enrichment Program, Waikoloa Beach Marriott and Spa, Guittard Chocolate Company, Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory, Taste of Aloha, Cocoa Outlet, Yay! Candy, Christie Mitsumura-Mason-McDuffie Mortgage Corporation, Waialua Chocolate & Coffee, Primavera Farms, Kuleana Rum Works, Valrhona and Ola Brew.