At Home on the Kona Coast
Posted on July 1, 2017
The view from our balcony was the stuff of postcards. In the distance, the blue Pacific extended as far as I could see and the low-rise community of Kailua-Kona stretched out along the coast. Cattle grazed on the wide green slope in front of me and, nearby, lush tropical plants rustled in a gentle breeze.
The evening before, my husband, Richard, and I had arrived in Holualoa after dark, so this was my first look at our new surroundings, and I liked what I saw. We’d been to the island many times, but had always stayed on the Kohala Coast, the family-friendly resort area about 50 miles to the north. This time, we chose a quiet upcountry community known for cooler weather, coffee plantations, art galleries, and our new digs — the Holualoa Inn.
At this luxury B&B, six bedrooms are located in the former estate house of fifth-generation Hawaiians, but my husband and I opted for a restored cottage on the property. The 1940s home of Hawaii artist Darrell Hill has been beautifully renovated and offers a king bedroom, dressing room, full kitchen, living room, and spacious lanai with ocean view. Guests in the cottage are welcome to enjoy the inn’s on-site amenities, including the swimming pool, hot tub, and massage hale (pavilion). We also joined guests in the main residence for elaborate gourmet breakfasts featuring fresh local produce.
Our cottage home proved to be the perfect base for exploring Holualoa and venturing further afield along the coast. We also loved the privacy, peace, and quiet — only interrupted by frogs at night and roosters in the morning. (Hosts provide a generous supply of earplugs.)
Our first excursion was to Holualoa’s main street, and if I hadn’t already read that java is the juice that powers this village, I would have quickly figured it out. More than 600 coffee farms are located in the Kona area, and some of them have tasting rooms in the quaint, quasi-commercial area. It’s a good place to learn about the harvesting process and how the beans are processed. We also browsed through several small galleries that display the work of local artists — colorful paintings and hand-carved wood pieces.
That night, we dined at nearby Holuakoa Gardens & Café. At first, I was dazzled by the patio setting and thousands of little white lights in the tree canopy, but as soon as our food started arriving, I realized that this was much more than just another pretty space.
Holuakoa is a farm-to-fork restaurant, where fresh organic ingredients are sourced from within five miles of their kitchen. This includes grass-fed, hormone-free Parker Ranch beef, fish caught by local fishermen, and fruit, vegetables, and herbs grown nearby. The menu changes daily to take advantage of what’s currently available. The day we dined there, just-picked, just-perfect figs appeared as Holuakoa Fig Salad.
We shared a pu pu platter that included house-made organic hummus, heirloom tomato and cucumber salad, oil-cured black olives, and fresh goat cheese. My main course was fresh pasta lasagna with grilled vegetables, herb ricotta, and homemade marinara and pesto sauce. Richard loved the slow-braised brisket. A week later, when we left the island and headed home, we agreed that Holuakoa was the gastronomic highlight of our trip.
Of course, there’s more to Kona than coffee and cuisine. Great kayak and snorkel excursions are offered by Kona Boys in the coastal community of Kealakekua. We chose their “Morning Magic” trip and enjoyed a quiet paddle accompanied by schools of Hawaiian spinner dolphins. On the far side of the bay, we snorkeled over one of the state’s most pristine reefs, where we saw lots colorful fish and sea urchins.
Kona Boys also offers paddleboard tours and lessons, rides in traditional Hawaiian outrigger canoes, surfboard rentals, and all kinds of cool gear and outdoorsy Hawaiian clothing. Their guides also give good restaurant recommendations.
“Stop at Strawberry Patch,” we were told. “They’ve got great food.”
That evening, we enjoyed our takeaway Mediterranean appetizers as well as pasta primavera and chicken piccata “at home” in our Kona cottage with the picture postcard view. Elizabeth Hansen
Snorkeling: Photo courtesy of Adams/Hansen stock photos All other Photos courtesy of Holualoa Inn & Hawaii Tourism Authority