Factory tours make for good public relations, according to
officials with several makers of island products. On Oahu, in
particular, more and more manufacturers are offering visitors an
unusual behind-the-scenes look.
Perhaps the most homespun of Oahu’s factory tours is found at
KoAloha Ukulele, a respected producer of the four-stringed
instrument. KoAloha started the tours three years ago, said a
company spokesman, Alan Okami.
“We want to share our brand of aloha,” said Okami. “It’s a way
for visitors to meet the people of the islands.”
For 45 minutes, clients learn about the meticulous process
master craftsmen go through as they create ukuleles out of highly
prized native koa wood, found only in Hawaii.
At the end of the visit, clients participate in a hands-on
activity where they create a koa gift to take home. Members of the
family-run business play an original song for their guests, then
take pictures of tour participants to add to the family
“We try to share a bit of the old Hawaii,” said Okami. “Music
often brings people together.” Tours are held Mondays-Fridays at 10
a.m. and 1 p.m.
866-840-4911; www. koalohaukulele.com.
On the Lion Coffee roasting plant tour, clients watch how
Hawaii’s crop is processed from beans to bags.
“Offering tours gives us a chance to teach consumers about the
benefits of Hawaiian and gourmet coffee,” said Hawaii Coffee
Company president Jim Wayman. “Learning about local products gives
Hawaii meaning. It provides the visitor with a personal connection
with the islands.”
Highlights of the 30-minute tour include a look at the cooling
bin, the roaster and a machine that grinds 10,000 pounds of beans
per load. The showroom displays and sells coffees, T-shirts and
Lion memorabilia; and the cafe sells the finished product.
Scheduled tours take place Tuesdays at 10 a.m.
800-338-8353; www. hicoffeeco.com.
Martin & MacArthur, which makes island furniture of koa,
started offering free 20-minute tours of its workshop last
The firm has become known for reviving unusual Hawaiian
furniture designs dating to the mid-19th century combining
influences from Asia, Europe and New England. Clients get a lesson
in history and art as they see the various grains and colors of
“We teach people what to look for when buying the best wood
furniture,” said a company partner, Lloyd Jones. “The tour exposes
visitors to one of the crafts that enriches the culture of Hawaii.”
Tours run every Wednesday from 9 a.m. to noon.
800-845-0099; www. martinandmacarthur.com.
Maui Divers’ Jewelry Design Center, Oahu’s most polished factory
tour, takes groups behind the scenes of a manufacturer specializing
in coral jewelry.
“We keep the groups small, up to 10 people at a time, so they
can ask questions,” said Kris Taylor, a Maui Divers spokeswoman.
“We try to make this a good memory of a visit to Hawaii.”
Clients see a short film on how coral is harvested from the sea,
then watch artisans at work.
The tour ends in a 3,000-square-foot showroom with jewelry that
features coral and various gemstones. While the display is
dazzling, clients should be forewarned that employees do their best
to make a sale before the clients leave.
Free 20-minute factory tours are offered from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30
p.m. daily. A free shuttle runs from Waikiki to the site.
808-946-7979; www.maui diverstour.com.