Big Island Off the Beaten Track, Part One
Guest Post by Amy Perry Basseches
Traveling in Hawaii has long been on my bucket list of adventures. Finally, last month, I spent a week with my 20-year old daughter on the Big Island. Ahead of time, we rerouted our itinerary to avoid the small area in the southeast affected by the Kilauea volcano. And the journey was truly memorable. I’ll be sharing three separate aspects of our trip. Rent a 4WD vehicle, explore the full range of possibility, and enjoy.
After landing at Kona Airport on the Island’s west side, we began our trip with several days in Holualoa. Holualoa is a small artist and coffee community in the hills above Kailua-Kona. Mamalohoa Highway winds through the heart of the town, past the wonderful Holuakoa Gardens and Cafe, where we relished several meals, including one with fresh "opah" fish and our first taste of Kona Brewing Company’s Longboard Island Lager. Most of the ingredients are locally sourced (organic fruits, vegetables, herbs, meats, and fish), and eaten under twinkling lights woven into the wood framing.
Satisfied after eating, we wandered into a dozen or more art galleries, bought jewelry, and chatted with folks who have chosen to live and create in this historic island town. We also visited Hula Daddy Coffee Farm, which, like many other coffee producers on the upland slopes of Kona, use the high elevation, constant cloud coverage, and rich volcanic soil to create quality coffee. In fact, one of their coffees (Hula Daddy Kona Coffee, 100% Kona SL-28, Roast: Medium-Light) was selected as the No. 2 coffee on Coffee Review’s list of the Top 30 Coffees of 2017.
Our destination on yet another outing was to pay homage to Holualoa’s past as a small Japanese village. We stopped at several sites including a Japanese cemetery, many old buildings from the early 1900s, and Doris’ Place grocery. Japanese immigrants came to Hawaii primarily as sugar laborers in the late 1800s and then worked the coffee country. The cemetery was full of coral and lava rock headstones inscribed with kanji. The markers on buildings included "Dr. Hayashi’s Office and Home, 1897." Lastly, Doris’ Place, staffed since 1948 by Doris herself. We walked in on the store’s 70th anniversary celebration, quite a treat.