Kailua is King of Hawaiian Chocolate

Before we began chocolatouring around Hawaii, I hadn’t previously heard of Kailua–a community located within Honolulu County and just 12 miles northeast of the metropolis of Honolulu city. But the small town of about 38,000 residents is a world away from the hustle and bustle of Honolulu and has a bit of the country feel you’d find in a Midwest town of the same size. What makes Kailua different (besides the beautiful beach) is the chocolate!


I really loved the Breakfast Bar from Manoa Chocolate. Can’t wait to taste their new offerings!

Within the course of a few blocks, we visited the three chocolate shops I mentioned in the previous post: Manoa Chocolate Hawaii, Madre Chocolate, and Kokolani Chocolates. Each of these is very different and well worth a look.

Manoa Chocolate

I love Manoa because it is the labour of love of a young couple in love. Hawaiian-born chocolate maker Dylan Butterbaugh and his finance Tamara Armstrong lead the creative team at Manoa. Tamara handles most of the marketing and Dylan is the chief chocolate maker. They make a super cute couple and some incredibly tasty chocolate. My favourite is the Breakfast Bars made of a 60% “dark milk” chocolate and Hawaiian-grown crushed coffee beans. Unfortunately, due to a shortage in local supply and the high price of Hawaiian-grown cocoa (as much as 4x the price of fine cocoa from any other part of the world,) Manoa uses cocoa beans from Costa Rica, Liberia, and Papua New Guinea to make most of their chocolate. I love the crunch of the Breakfast Bar with cocoa nibs and coffee beans to give your day the kickstart it deserves. (Coincidentally, Manoa used Kickstarter crowdfunding to purchase new equipment for its operation in 2012.) You can take a tour of the tiny Manoa “factory” and learn more about their operation while you taste the different products in their lineup.


Nat Bletter, co-owner of Madre Chocolate is extremely passionate about chocolate.

Madre Chocolate is similar to Manoa in that they focus on producing excellent chocolate bars from the best quality cocoa beans they can acquire from numerous sources around the world. My favourite Madre creation is the Triple Cacao bar that features chocolate made from cocoa grown in the Dominican Republic along with pieces of cocoa nib, cacao pulp from Brazil, and vanilla bean from Mexico. It’s one of the best bars I’ve ever had, as the tiny chunks of cacao pulp really add a new dimension to the bar. Madre has a super small chocolate workshop in Kailua and now, a larger location in Honolulu’s China Town. Keep your eye open for more Madre chocolate to contain locally grown beans, as they’ve already begun working with beans from Hamakua and Holualoa on the Big Island and Waiahole on Oahu, and hope to continue increasing the Hawaiian component of their chocolate over time.

Kokolani Chocolates

Kokolani Chocolates  used to be a favourite among chocolate lovers visiting Kailua. Chocolatier Virginia Douglas is a Master Chocolatier and graduate of Ecole Chocolat. She uses some chocolate couverture from Valrhona, but specializes in uniquely Hawaiian chocolate creations such as exotic truffles. Some of my favourites from Kokolani include the Blond Chocolate Caramels and the Kokolava made from Waialua Estate Hawaiian dark chocolate, pineapple, macadamia nuts, and coconut. Virginia is a true chocolate artisan with an uncanny ability to blend flavours and design chocolate delicacies that are as beautiful to look at as they are to eat. In 2016, Virginia purchased Sweet Paradise Chocolatier from Melanie Boudar and moved to Maui, so her Kailua shop is no longer open.

You can visit each of these terrific chocolate makers in their shops. I also visited their booths at the Hawaii Chocolate Festival in Honolulu. Detailed profiles of each of these uniquely-Hawaiian chocolate artisans will be contained in Volume II of Chocolatour.

Have you tried any of these chocolate creations? Have you been to Kailua? Please share your thoughts here.

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

26 Responses

  1. thrilled to announce that Manoa and Madre will be part of our Valentine Week, 2018 chocolatour to Hawaii. See this post for details: https://chocolatour.net/come-chocolatouring-with-me/.

  2. I always travel with chocolate in mind and in hand! How fun to be a chocolate travel expert. Next time I visit Kailua I will think chocolate! Mahalo.
    Nancy D. Brown recently posted…Tentacles Invade Monterey Bay AquariuimMy Profile

  3. Catarina says:

    Imagine three chocolatiers in such a small place.

    Mentioned what you do at a dinner party recently and it seems there are Swedes that have started writing about chocolate as well. Interesting how the web makes us find out more about what we love and eat.
    Catarina recently posted…Shifting wealth of nations – what is overlookedMy Profile

    • Doreen says:

      Hi Catarina: Yes there are people who write about chocolate all over the world. The thing that makes me different than others is that I am focusing on chocolate travel. i.e. trying to encourage people to travel to new and different places with chocolate in mind. But yes, the web has really opened up the world to us, hasn’t it?
      Doreen recently posted…Kailua is King of Hawaiian ChocolateMy Profile

  4. Cheryl says:

    I have not been to Hawaii, though it is on my bucket list. Perhaps you can share some of that lovely chocolate with your readers? Yeah, I mean me. LOL So glad to hear that Hawaii also has some great chocolate makers!
    Cheryl recently posted…#Garden Compass: App ReviewMy Profile

  5. David Ryan says:

    I’ve been to Kokolani Chocolates once. Absolutely loved the place!

  6. Jo says:

    It would never occur to me that Hawaii would be a mecca for fine chocolate – and so close to Honolulu too. Puts all those boxes of cheap macadamia chocolates in souvenir shops to shame as a “chocolate souvenir”. Regardless of where I’m travelling I love the idea of local food, made with love.
    Jo recently posted…Beyond the Soviets – an insider’s guide to WarsawMy Profile

    • Doreen says:

      Hi Jo and thanks for your comment. I love macadamia nuts, so don’t discount them. But I must tell you that the macadamia nuts coated in a thin layer of toffee, and then rolled in powdered Hawaii-grown milk chocolate made by Big Island Candies are one of the finest chocolate treat I’ve ever encountered. 3 days and I’ve eaten the entire can. You definitely can’t beat locally grown and artisan made for taste and quality.
      Doreen recently posted…Kailua is King of Hawaiian ChocolateMy Profile

  7. Dom says:

    I’m off to Hawaii tomorrow and well be visiting all of the above! Really looking forward to the festival at the Fairmont too!
    Dom recently posted…Japanese Kit Kat SelectionMy Profile

  8. Patti says:

    Hhmmm…. maker of chocolate, maybe that should be my next career choice! Your posts always leave me with a strange craving for chocolate. I’m not sure why?!
    Patti recently posted…A Quirky Little Cemetery ~My Profile

  9. You had me salivating at the breakfast bars. They sound quite yummy!
    Irene S. Levine recently posted…Market Visit – Coquimbo Fish Market in ChileMy Profile

  10. I love going along with you on your chocolate travels. I knew about the Kona coffee festival, which I think is going on right now, but I didn’t know about the chocolate festival!
    Carole Terwilliger Meyers recently posted…Great Sleeps: The Grand Hotel, Cape May, New JerseyMy Profile

  11. Ursula Maxwell-Lewis says:

    Mahalo for demonstrating one more reason to visit Oahu, Doreen. Sun, sea and – chocolate. That gets an enthusiastic ‘Aloha!’ from me
    Ursula Maxwell-Lewis recently posted…Letter: Fair Elections Act favours the incumbentMy Profile

    • Thanks for your enthusiastic comment, Ursula. You may be happy to learn that I will be hosting a small group Chocolatour to the Hawaiian Islands during Valentine Week, February 10-18, 2018. Drop me a line if you’d like to join our happy group!

    • Ursula Maxwell-Lewis says:

      Hi Doreen: I’m not sure how that “letter” link got in there. Sorry! Please delete that part . it was unintentional!

  12. It’s interesting to find three great chocolate makers in Kailua. All sound wonderful. Definitely worth a trip outside Honolulu.

  13. Nancie says:

    I have not had the pleasure of trying any of this chocolate. However, I am tempted to check the bank account, and then book the first flight out. I want one of everything!!

    • Doreen says:

      Right on, Nancie, Patti, and Billie! Wish I could be on that plane with you and we could all head down for a Hawaiian Chocolatour. That will definitely be in the works in the future.

      Something I’ll add to the post by adendum is that the Big Island Chocolate Fest is taking place May 2nd and 3rd in Kona. How I’d love to be there for that!

      Thx for stopping by the blog.
      Doreen recently posted…book review: Eat Chocolate, Lose WeightMy Profile

  14. I love small, local chocolatiers- heck, I love any chocolate as long as it’s dark and made from great ingredients. Thanks for sharing these, Doreen.
    santafetraveler recently posted…Tidbits: this week’s Santa Fe news you can useMy Profile

  15. Chocolate… it’s what’s for breakfast. The Manoa Breakfast Bars sound like they are custom-made just for me. And what could be a better combination than chocolate and Hawaii? Book me on the next flight out to Oahu!
    Patti Morrow recently posted…Dirty Tricks: Erase Years with St. Lucia MudMy Profile

    • Hi Patti: If you are serious, I’d love to have you join our small group Chocolatour to Oahu and the Big Island Feb 10-18, 2018. Can you possibly think of a better way to spend Valentine Week?

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