What’s going on with Mauna Kea?

Mauna Kea Big Island Hawaii
Photo credit: Marco Garcia / New York Times

The summit of Mauna Kea is a favorite tourist attraction, either to see a spectacular sunrise or sunset, or to stop by the visitors’ center to make use of the free telescopes to view the night sky on clear nights, as well as listen to an informative lecture on the Milky Way, with a guided laser pointer.

However, access to the summit of Mauna Kea has been blocked since July 2019 due to protest action over the proposed construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT).

So, what’s really going on with Mauna Kea? We decided to take a look at what’s happening.

Why is Mauna Kea so special?

Mauna Kea is considered the point of origin of the Hawaiian people. The summit of the mountain was the meeting place of the Earth Mother, Papahānaumoku, and the Sky Father, Wākea. The Hawaiian people are believed to be direct descendents from this union. For this reason Mauna Kea is considered to be sacred (kapu) ground.

View of Milky Way from Hawaii
A panorama of the Milky Way from Mauna Kea. Kilauea Volcano under cloud cover. Photo credit: Joe Marquez

There are many altars (lepa) on the mountain that pay homage to gods and goddesses (akua) as well as other important burial and ceremonial sites. Recently, members of the Royal Order of Kamehameha, were involved in building a ceremonial site (lele), with an area for equinox and solstice rituals. These were intended to echo the historical Hawaiian structures used in the same way. In the past these may have been used to measure an astronomical effect called the precession of the equinoxes. This involved understanding the position of the stars in relation to the movement of the earth’s axis. Ancient Hawaiians understood the importance of tracking the position of the stars and how this related to navigation.

Mauna Kea telescopes
From left, the 8-meter Subaru (Japan), the twin 10-meter Keck I and II (California) and the 3-meter NASA Infrared Telescope Facility. Photo credit: Babak Tafreshi / National Astronomical Observatory of Japan

It is also believed that ancient Hawaiians used observation platforms, containing stones marking the positions of the rising and setting stars, on the summit of Mauna Kea.   

It’s important to remember that ancient Hawaiian traditions are interconnected and exist on a continuum. This means that whether it’s oceanic navigation or following the seasons, the Hawaiian people see connections between themselves as fundamentally linked with the connections between the earth and the sky.

Why is the summit of Mauna Kea a good location for telescopes?

The summit of the mountain provides a number of perfect conditions for viewing the stars. It has dry clear air, low temperatures, very little turbulence, great visibility, and low light pollution.

Mauna Kea sunset
Mauna Kea at sunset. Photo credit: Horizon Guest House

What is the history of Mauna Kea?

Mauna Kea has a complicated land use history. It is part-crown land – those lands belonging to the former king of the Hawaiian Kingdom (Kamehameha), and part-conservation lands.

Despite this dual ownership there are currently 13 telescopes on the summit of Mauna Kea. Telescopes have been a fixture on the summit since the first was constructed in the late 1960s. A large number of these were built without sufficient permits and without the support of the local community. Some of these telescopes are in use while others have been abandoned and remain unused. The removal of some of the abandoned telescopes was a condition of the TMT getting the go-ahead.

The $1.4 billion TMT was first due to be built over four years ago but was delayed by court action. Construction was finally approved in October 2018.

Mauna Kea non optical telescopes
From left, Caltech Submillimeter Observatory; James Clerk Maxwell Telescope; and the Submillimeter Array, consisting of several 6-meter dishes. Photo Credit: Babak Tafreshi / National Astronomical Observatory of Japan

How have the telescopes affected the ecology of Mauna Kea?

The mountain has unique biogeoclimatic zones as well as a freshwater spring that provides water to the Big Island. There have been major concerns over waste management, including the leakage of sewage into the environment from telescope facilities, and mercury spills. These legacy issues were raised prior to the building of new telescopes but have, as yet, not been addressed.

What is the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT)?

If built, the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) will be 18 stories high, 9 stories into the ground and cover 5 acres of land. Even though an environmental impact report by the University of Hawai’i declared that the telescope would ‘be the most environmentally sensitive telescope ever built on Mauna Kea’, the protestors believe there is a conflict of interest due to the University’s involvement with the TMT. This has cast significant doubt over the accuracy of the report. The unclear economic motives of some politicians supporting construction of the TMT have also muddied the waters.

New thirty meter telescope Hawaii
Artist’s rendering of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT). Photo credit: TMT Observatory Corporation

Why is the TMT so important?

Once operational, the TMT will be an enormously powerful telescope and will have the ability to image atmospheres on exoplanets and even take images of galaxies as they begin to form.

Protestors Mauna Kea Hawaii
Mauna Kea protestors. Photo Credit: Caleb Jones / Associated Press

When did the protests begin?

In July 2019, after it was announced that construction would begin on the TMT, a small group of protestors set up camp at the base of Mauna Kea and blocked the road to the summit.

Mauna Kea Hawaii Protestors Day Four
Mauna Kea. Day 4. Photo Credit: Hawaii News Now
Mauna Kea Protestors day 117
Mauna Kea. Day 117. Photo credit: Hawaii News Now

The protest site was named a Pu’u Honua (sanctuary) and kapu aloha (a state of love and respect) was instituted. After some initial arrests and publicity, the numbers swelled, and 500 protestors turned into thousands. Currently it’s a self-sustaining community, named Pu’uhonua o Pu’uhuluhulu (Fuzzy Mountain Sanctuary after the hill facing Mauna Kea) and the protestors consider themselves to be the Mauna Kea protectors.

Can’t they build the TMT somewhere else?

Yes, they can. The TMT project manager has confirmed another location in the Canary Islands would be perfectly acceptable and does not have the same problematic environmental and cultural impacts as the Mauna Kea location.

Mauna Kea Protectors
Mauna Protector Pua Case speaking to the protectors (kia'i). Photo credit: Danielle Da Silva

What happens next?

The situation remains a stand-off, with more court action pending. The best solution is to work to preserve Hawaiian culture, rather than to neglect it, and locate the telescope in a much less contentious location. Perhaps the issues raised by this protest can result in a plan of action to undo some of the damage that has already occurred on the summit. 

Mauna Kea is a precious part of Hawaiian culture. Recognition of its importance is key to the preservation and protection of the summit for future generations.

Mauna Kea protest child
Mauna Kea. Photo credit: Danielle Da Silva

What can you do?

Sign the change petition calling for an immediate halt to the construction of the TMT here

Follow the Mauna Protectors on Instagram Puʻuhonua o Puʻuhuluhulu 

And don't forget...

There’s still plenty to enjoy and experience on the Big Island! Make a booking at Horizon B&B and make your stay on the Kona Coast unforgettable. To book now fill out our reservation request form (click the Book Now button below) or call us on 808 938 7822

References

Huth, J.E. (2019). The Thirty Meter Telescope Can Show Us the Universe. But at What Cost? Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/06/opinion/mauna-kea-telescope.html

Richardson, M. (2019). As Temps Drop at Mauna Kea, Protestors Hunker Down For a Long Winter. Retrieved from https://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/2019/11/09/how-encampment-base-mauna-kea-has-changed-over-months/ 

Sanchez, N. (2019). Mauna Kea, What It Is, Why It Is Happening, and Why We All Should Be Paying Attention. Retrieved from https://www.resilience.org/stories/2019-08-15/mauna-kea-what-it-is-why-it-is-happening-and-why-we-all-should-be-paying-attention/  

The Keitt Mango

Keitt Mango tree

Mango varieties

If there’s one fruit that is most associated with the tropics, it’s the mango. If you live in an area like Hawaii, where mangoes are grown locally, people almost always have their favorite variety. Some 40 different varieties are grown on the islands, and of these there are about 10 which produce the bulk of the mango crops. There are 5 different mango varieties grown at Horizon, and my favorite, by a long shot, is the Keitt.

Keitt Mango Sliced Open

Mango harvest

The Keitt is a late harvest variety originating out of Florida. It generally ripens from August through October, or even into November. This year it looks like we’ll still have fruit well into November. The other mangoes here on the property, and state-wide in general, are usually finished by July or August.

The Keitt mango

The Keitt mango is huge, easily weighing in between 2 to 4 pounds each! What’s a little unusual about this variety is that it doesn’t change color to indicate that it’s ripe. In years past, I would wait for the expected color change before picking. Unfortunately the fruit then just falls to the ground, turning to a mush from the bruising.

Keitt mango tree trees grow to a medium size, allowing them to bear the heavy fruit they produce. The flesh itself is sweet, with low amounts of fiber, a thin seed, and the skin is green with a purple or red tinge.

This variety is anthracnose resistant, meaning it is resistant to a fungal disease causing dark lesions. The fruit also has a long shelf life.

 

Mango bread with cranberries

The versatile mango

Just like a peach, the versatile mango can be used to flavor pies, jam, chutney, and also ice cream, sorbets, relishes, preserves, juices as well as being used in a wide array of baked goods. Of course, just like a really good peach, nothing beats the fresh fruit, especially when it’s chilled. A fresh mango topped cheese cake, or served alone with vanilla ice cream…yum! Here in Hawaii, mango bread is widely popular as a fruit substitute for banana. 

You’ll often find the mango flavored bread (with cranberries, pictured above) and mango muffins on our buffet breakfast menu.

Mango muffins

Mango wood

Mango wood has become a popular wood both for furniture and also art objects. Mango trees reach maturity for harvesting at between seven to fifteen years, and the wood itself does not require intensive processing and drying. Another reason for its popularity is that it has a very similar look to teak.

Fun fact! Mango wood is sustainable.

The wood is already a byproduct of the industrial mango fruit industry and the trees are quick to mature compared to other varieties of trees. Once the trees have finished fruiting they are harvested for their wood and then replaced with the next crop to then bear fruit.

Mango wood

Besides being an attractive tree, mango produces a beautiful and useful wood. Local craftsman use mango (when they can get it) to produce wooden art work and gorgeous bowls and boxes (as pictured). Mango doesn’t have the cache of koa, but because there is so little available, it ranks up there as far as desirability among the wood workers.

Mango wood boxes

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The Horizon Bicycle Diaries

4 Scenic Lookout, Kohala Mtns in back

Cycling is a big part of my life and a great way to keep fit. Here on the Big Island of Hawaii there are plenty of places to cycle. One of my favorite routes is from Kona, north to Waikoloa. It’s approximately 50 miles and it takes me about 3 hours to complete the ride.

Bicycle diary

1 On the Go Food

8 P.M. (previous day)

Preparation is key, so the night before a ride I get everything ready for the next day. One of the most important factors is staying hydrated and having quality nutrition post-ride.

Two bottles of ice-cold water with electrolytes? Check.

Protein shake with banana? Check.

Tuna sandwich? Check.

Homemade museli bar? Check.*

Assorted gels, Cliff bars and salt pills? Double check.

Alarm set for 4 A.M. and early to bed!

(*Look for the recipe in an upcoming blog!)

2 Staging at 6 am

6 A.M.

After rising early I drive into Kona to park the car and get the bicycle ready. It gets warm first thing in Kona so I find it’s important to get out as early as I can after sunrise.

3 Kohala Mtns

7 A.M.

Wide shoulders and long stretches of highway make the route from Kona to Waikoloa (and behind to Kawaihae – if you’re feeling adventurous!) perfect for road cycling. It’s a popular route with local cyclists and is used as part of the Iron Man each year.

5 Maui in distance

8 A.M.

A quick stop at the Scenic Lookout on the way back from Waikoloa. Time to refuel with a snack and make sure I’m hydrated. Great views are guaranteed for the ride, and on a clear day you can even see all the way to Maui.

6 Kona Coffee and Tea

9:15 A.M.

Finish line! I arrive back at the car and refuel with a post-ride milkshake and sandwich. The ride is over and I now need a shower (at the local gym) and then a coffee at my favorite local cafe Kona Coffee & Tea.

7 Coffee Time

9:25 A.M.

We all need a little treat and post-ride mine is a mocha! It’s getting hot in Kona and getting out and riding in the early part of the day has been worth it – time to head back home to Horizon Guest House.

Big Island Cycling

Regardless of your level of cycling, Hawaii is ideal. Riding is possible 365 days a year. Most of the time the weather remains within a very narrow temperature range. Here on the Big Island, we have some of the best cycling conditions to match anywhere else in the world.

Kua Bay Kona
Kua Bay, Kona

The annual Sea to Stars race is from sea level to the 9,000 ft. level of Mauna Kea. Or, staying along the coast, you can enjoy relatively flat riding (the Kona to Waikoloa route, and also the Ironman route). The scenery goes from lush, dense tropical forest to wide open vistas – my favorite cycling conditions.

Waipio Lookout

Rentals

Bicycles can be rented on a daily or weekly basis from Bike Works: http://www.bikeworkskona.com

Or why not have a catered, concierge type experience with Lifecycle Adventures https://www.lifecycleadventures.com As a bonus, if you’re booking with LifeCycle, you can choose to stay at Horizon Guest House as one of your destination points.

Looking for an e-bike? My partner and I tried these out in New Zealand and they were a lot of fun. In Kona these can be rented from a number of outlets including Kona Sports Center.

Iron Man

It’s Ironman Triathlon race week here in Kona. The 3-part race on October 12th, is a 2.4 mile ocean swim, followed by a 112 mile bicycle run, and then a full marathon of 26 miles… all done in the same race day! It’s an incredible feat. When people hear that I ride 50 miles in a typical cycling day, they’re amazed – but that is not even half of the bicycle portion of the Ironman!

https://www.ironman.com/triathlon/events/americas/ironman/world-championship.aspx#/axzz6258oldoC

Cycling on Maui and Kauai

A cycling trip around Haleakala on Maui is memorable. It should definitely include Hana. There’s something about cycling the Road to Hana that’s even better than doing it by car – it brings you that much closer to the natural environment.

Back side of Maui

Kauai also has some great cycling. Until recently, I participated regularly in the Paradise Ride, an annual charity cycling event to benefit Malama Pono Health Services and their work providing essential support and education services for those living with HIV/AIDS.

Since the highways on Kauai are generally coastal, there isn’t much climbing. Also, the county has recently completed a wonderful coastal, paved cycle path of about 8 miles, starting in Lihue and heading toward Princeville.

Charity Fundraiser Kauai

Cycling in NZ

In the past few years I’ve been traveling to New Zealand, where I meet my partner, Angus. Luckily, Angus has a passion for fitness, so introducing him to cycling was easy.

Mt. Eden lunch

Also, easy, is the cycling in Auckland. The city has spent hugely on cycle paths to encourage commuting and cycling enjoyment in general.

Auckland

And lastly, what would a cycling blog be without a short video of me and my shadow – shot in Kona.

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Koa: The Big Island’s Magnificent Wood

Koa Pig Board Horizon Guest House Hawai
Pig board showing example of 'compression or fire' very rare even for curly koa

To the casual visitor, Hawaii is sunshine and beaches. But it’s more than that. If you visit often, or for long enough, or are lucky enough to live here, you’ll discover a unique product that is grown only in Hawaii (endemic) – and no, it’s not taro, lilikoi, or even lychee: it’s Acacia koa, simply known here as koa.

Koa stand Horizon BnB Kona Coast Hawaii
Plant stand by Russ Johnson

In ancient times, it was so prized that it was made kapu, prohibited for anyone to possess except for the royal class (ali’i), by King Kamehameha in the late 1700’s. Upon his death, the kapu was removed, which allowed all Hawaiians to possess this unique wood.

Koa bowl 2 Horizon Guest House Hawaii Big Island
Classic Hawaii bowl or umeke

Similar to black walnut and known for its hardness and extraordinary beauty, the Hawaiians found a wide range of uses for koa, from canoes to household dishes and utensils. When malihini settlers arrived, they discovered that it is also a ‘tonewood’ and could be used to make stringed instruments, such as the ukulele.

Koa Pen Horizon Guest House Hawaii Big Island
Curly koa ball point pen

Koa trees can attain a height of 50-75 feet and a trunk circumference of 20 feet. They are one of the fastest-growing Hawaiian trees, capable of reaching 20-30 feet in five years.

Koa wood Horizon B&B Hawaii
Detail of fine-grained koa

Ideally adapted to volcanic conditions, the larger Hawaiian islands supported huge forests of magnificent koa trees. However, the introduction of cattle, and the resulting clearance of huge swaths for pastures, severely reduced it’s habitat.

Koa trees are not endangered and recent restrictions on cutting, and protecting the seedlings from grazing cattle, sheep, and goats, have increased its population.

BUT! The only koa that can be harvested are dead or decaying koa trees on public lands.

Koa wood Horizon Guest House Hawaii
Headboard, part of 4-poster bed patterned from King Kamehameha’s bed

It can take more than 25 years before a seedling grows into a tree large enough to be useful. In the meantime, it’s a premium wood selling for as much as $150/board. A fine piece of koa furniture, such as a dining table will set you back as much as a small car. There are several galleries on the Big Island that showcase koa pieces, Hawaii Treasure Mill and Harbor Gallery among others.

Quilt koa Horizon Guest House Hawaii Big Island
Quilted bedspread in koa leaf pattern by Sig Zane

McCandless Ranch

I’ve been lucky enough to have lived on the Big Island for years surrounded by McCandless Ranch. Their preservation techniques, practiced over many decades, have resulted in some of the best stands of koa in the state. The trees are stately and beautiful, and the wood from this island is particularly dark and red. The rarest is called ‘curly’, named for its swirly grain patterns. Curly koa is found in only 1% of koa trees.

Koa bowl Horizon Guest House Kona Coast Hawaii
Curly Koa

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Portuguese sweet bread French toast + homemade wholegrain cereal bread!

French Toast Horizon Guest House Header
French toast under lights

There are two recipes which are considered the ‘most asked for’ from guests who have stayed at Horizon Guest House. The first is usually the whole grain hot cereal which we featured in an earlier blog post, and the second, is our delicious Portuguese sweet bread French toast.

The Portuguese sweet bread I use in this recipe is made locally at the Punalu’u Bake Shop in Naahlehu, near South Point, less than an hour’s drive south of Horizon Guest House. This type of bread was originally brought to Hawaii by Portuguese sugar workers in the 19th century and is still a favorite in Hawaii today.

Don’t worry if you aren’t able to find any Portuguese sweet bread, any egg-rich bread, such as challah, will work just as well.

Challah bread Horizon Guest House Hawaii
Braided egg bread

My partner Angus made this delicious braided egg bread, above, and it worked well for French toast too. For the egg bread recipe click here.

The French toast recipe

First, cut the Portuguese sweet bread into thick (1″ or so) slices.

French toast 1 Horizon Guest House Big Island Hawaii
So good you’ll want to eat it straight away! But don’t – it’s even better as French toast

Soak overnight in the refrigerator in the following custard: (for 6 slices)

Mix the following ingredients well:

6 eggs

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1-2 tbs. rum

A pinch of salt

1.5 cup half & half

Pour over the slices and make sure to move them around so the custard soaks in all over the bread.

French toast 2 Horizon Guest House Big Island Hawaii

About an hour before cooking, remove from the refrigerator, turn over and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Fry over a medium heat in a buttered pan until golden. Watch carefully, the sugar can burn. Transfer to the oven and bake at 300 for 15 minutes to finish. If you lower the heat and flip over frequently, you can finish on the stove top.

French toast small Horizon Guest House Big Island Hawaii

And serve! We have heat lamps here at Horizon to keep it nice and warm for when you arrive for breakfast. And don’t forget to top with all of your favorite toppings.

Our favorite toppings here at Horizon are:

Homemade lilikoi syrup, homemade jaboticaba syrup, homemade mango & ginger jam, and of course maple syrup.

Download the recipe here.

Wholegrain bread using Clem's cereal

Fresh bread Horizon Guest House Hawaii Big Island

This is perfect if you have some left over hot cereal and decide to make bread. Just use your favorite, plain bread recipe. I use about 2 cups of the cereal (at room temp) mixed in with the liquid and yeast before adding the flour. Omit the sugar in your bread recipe as the cereal already has some in it.

Also, this bread mixture works well made into homemade hamburger buns or dinner rolls, as well as a bread loaf.

We would love to hear your feedback. Let us know in the comments below, or in our Facebook post! Happy baking everyone! 

Come enjoy all the breakfast goodness at Horizon Guest House! Book now – click the button below.

Diving on the Big Island

White Sea Urchin
The rare white sea urchin. Kona Coast. 40 ft depth. Photo credit: Clem Classen

Diving in Hawaiian waters, whether it’s snorkelling or scuba, has always been regarded as one of the must-do diving experiences. But if you have ever dived in other locations around the world it may not be what you expect… *hint: it’s even better than you could imagine..

Nudibranch Big Island Horizon Guest House
Nudibranch. Big Island. 1 ft depth. Photo credit: Clem Classen

What's different about diving in Hawaii?

The Hawaiian Islands are one of the most remote areas on earth. Not only are the islands isolated but the main Pacific Ocean currents do not intersect around the Hawaiian Island chain. This has meant that there hasn’t been the same current drift that other islands have had, and as a result the islands don’t have the same level of bio-diversity as some of the other island chains. In fact, we are missing the large amount of invertebrates found in other tropical waters.

Soft corals Kona Coast Horizon Guest House Hawaii
Soft corals. Cave diving, Kona Coast. 30 ft depth. Photo credit: Clem Classen

Around all the Hawaiian Islands are steep drop-offs into deep water and because of this there are very few shallow reefs to harbor and protect the sensitive sea fans and soft corals.

Juvenile Frog Fish
Juvenile frog fish. Kona Coast. 30 ft depth. Photo credit: Clem Classen

Having been a professional diver for many years, I was astounded when I first dived other tropical locations. When I dived in French Polynesia, in particular the Tahitian Islands, I was amazed to see the variety of marine life. Vast fringing reefs formed lagoons rich with colorful clams, soft corals, sea fans, shrimp and crabs.

Green Turtle Honaunau Big Island Horizon BnB
Green turtle. Honaunau, Kona Coast. 15 ft depth. Photo credit: Clem Classen

So what IS special about diving in Hawaii?

The Hawaiian Islands not only have indigenous and unique marine life, but of the known 24,000 species of fish in the world:

  • The Hawaiian Islands are home to over 1,100 species
  • Among this number, 149 are native to Hawaii (these include the Hawaiian Whitespotted Puffer and the Potter’s Angelfish)

Diving along the Kona Coast means you’ll be able to see over 40 percent of these native species of fish, almost all of the native corals, as well as the Hawaiian green sea turtle, and all just minutes from entering the ocean – and in as little as 5 feet of water!

Flame Angel Big Island Hawaii
The rare flame angel fish. Big Island. 40 ft depth. Photo credit: Clem Classen

Safer Diving

Diving in the Hawaiian Islands is some of the safest diving in the world. There are no sea snakes, box jellyfish or other toxic creatures. The water is warm and clear and the currents are generally slow or non-existent.

Crown of Thorns Starfish
Crown of thorns starfish. Kona Coast. 25 ft depth. Photo credit: Clem Classen

The geology can be spectacular, with wondrous caves and beautiful drop-offs.

Manta Kona Coast Big Island Hawaii Horizon BnB
Clem with Manta. Kona Coast. 50 ft depth.

Deep water, pelagic sea creatures can be found relatively close to shore. These include manta rays, dolphins, and even giant whale sharks – don’t worry they’re not dangerous, they’re in fact a docile, plankton feeder. For more detail on the whale shark: https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/bigfish.html

Tinker's butterfly Horizon Guest House Big Island
The rare tinker’s butterfly fish. Big Island. 135 ft depth. Photo credit: Clem Classen

And there’s always the famous humpback whale! You’re unlikely to encounter this mammal during a dive, but the spectacular displays topside, put on by the whales when they breach, is not to be missed if you happen to be on the island during ‘whale season’ (December to March).

Masked Butterfly Honaunau Big Island Horizon BnB

Where to dive?

Horizon Guest House is just minutes from one of the best local snorkeling spots – Two Step. We also have masks and snorkels on hand for guests to use.

Big Island Divers

But if you’re looking for a more comphrensive diving and/or snorkeling experience we recommend Big Island Divers. Corrine and the team will help you decide on what experience best suits you, whether it’s snorkeling, either with dolphins or as part of a whale watching trip, or one of the many scuba diving packages. Don’t forget their legendary Kona Manta Ray Night Dive – it’s not to be missed!

For more information on Big Island Divers check out their website www.bigislanddivers.com  and their amazing Instagram https://www.instagram.com/bigislanddivershawaii/

Experience diving here on the Big Island! Stay close to the action at Horizon Guest House. To book now click the button below.

Sunny: Queen of the Pastures

Sunny Horizon Guest House Hawaii

Sunny is a special horse. Not just because she’s so special to us but also because she has an incredible pedrigree.

Her official name is ‘Mirasol’ which means ‘look at the sun’ and she has been with us since 1996, when she came to us from Rancho Del Sueño in California.

Sunny's Family History

The interesting part of Sunny’s heritage is that it’s traceable to the original horses brought by the Spanish when they first came to the Americas.

Sunny Horizon Guest House Hawaii Big Island

Sunny is unique because she’s a Wilbur-Cruce Colonial Spanish horse. The Cruce horses are direct descendants of horses that came to the New World from Spain in the 1500s. In 1989 the horses on the Wilbur-Cruce ranch were identified as a rare, genetic type – DNA results pointed to their characteristics being ‘Old World Spanish’ and ‘North African Barb’. The original stock of the herd came from Father Kino’s Mission Dolores in Sonora, Mexico. The group of horses had been breed on the ranch for over 100 years prior, having been purchased by the ranch from the Mission.

In 1990 the Wilbur-Cruce family donated the horses to The Nature Conservancy and they, in turn, partnered with a number breeders including Robin Collins at Rancho Del Sueño (where Sunny was born) in order to protect the bloodlines. Since then, Robin has maintained the genetic diversity of the horses via a careful breeding program in order to preserve the integrity of these amazing horses.

Fun Fact! The Wilbur-Cruce horses look very similar to the horses found in a lot of Baroque-era art, and are in fact closer to the horses from this era than those found in Spain today.

https://stablemanagement.com/industry-news-information/spanish-treasures-arizona-cruce-colonial-spanish-horses-25107

Sunny Horizon Kona B&B Hawaii

Personality

The breed is known for its intelligence, agility and hardiness. Sunny is no exception. On the boat trip from California to Hawaii she was accompanied by a large herd of goats. The barge tender told me that in the course of the journey Sunny twice untied the latch on the gate and let the goats loose on the barge…

Fiercely competitive Sunny will always seek to be number one. If I’m riding with her in a group situation she will insist on riding in front and won’t be happy until she is!

Time to get new shoes

Sunny and the Gang

After Sunny’s best friend, Buck, died a few years ago she decided to ‘adopt’ the donkeys Poncho and Lefty as her new friends – allowing them to keep her company…

She still rules the pastures – Poncho and Lefty know who’s boss – but Sunny is basically now retired. However, she will gladly snack on carrots from the guests and is always happy to have some attention if you just want to spend time petting her and, of course, reminding her of her distinguished pedigree!

Sunny Horizon B&B Big island Hawaii
Buck (left) with Sunny

Support the Wilbur-Cruce Spanish Horse

Interested in supporting the preservation of Sunny’s family? Rancho Del Sueño is the equine division of the Heritage Discovery Center, a registered non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of the critically endangered Wilbur-Cruce Spanish horse.  Their mission is to save this amazing breed from extinction. To find out more about the great work the ranch does, and to support them, check out the link below. 

www.ranchodelsueno.com

And for more information on the Wilbur-Cruce Spanish horse:

https://stablemanagement.com/industry-news-information/spanish-treasures-arizona-cruce-colonial-spanish-horses-25107

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Wild Birds of Horizon: Part I

Kalij pheasant Horizon BnB Kona Big Island
Kalij pheasants

It’s not just domesticated animals you’ll see at Horizon Guest House. We have abundant wild bird life here on the property and in this post, part I of II, we’ll feature some of our favorites.

Kalij pheasant

The kalij pheasant was first introduced to Hawaii in 1962. The males are black with grey and the females are light brown. The males have a distinctive red colouring around the eyes with a plume of feathers on their heads.

They grow to be between two to three feet in size. Originally from the Himalaya region in Nepal, it was the owners of Pu’u Wa’awa’a Ranch who first brought the kalij pheasants to the Big Island. You’re most likely to see these birds in forested upland areas, which is why we often see them here at Horizon due to the altitude – we’re at 1,100 feet.

Did you know? Despite it’s size the kalij is sometimes targeted as prey by the io, the Hawaiian hawk!

Cardinal Horizon BnB Kona Big Island
A friendly Red Cardinal

Red Cardinal

This colorful bird is fairly common on the Big Island. Also known as the northern cardinal, or redbird, it was introduced to Hawaii in 1929.

Cardinals are common in pairs and you’ll often see them in the garden at Horizon. The male is easily identified by his bright red color. The females are brown in color. When you hear birdsong first thing in the morning at Horizon it’s likely to be the cardinal as they are among the first birds to sing at dawn.

Zebra Finch Horizon BnB Kona Big Island
Zebra finch on the lanai

Zebra finch

The zebra finch is a common bird on the property and it might take you a moment to see them. The zebra finch is very small. So-called because of its zebra-like stripes on its neck and chest, and also because of the coloring of its black and white tail.

There can be great variation in the coloring of zebra finches. Generally the male is gray with a black shading around its eye and patches of red on its cheeks as well as a red beak. The female’s beak is more of a pale orange.

Turkey Horizon BnB Kona Big Island
Turkeys in the garden

Turkey

You’ll often see turkeys at Horizon moving in herds. Turkeys were released on the Big Island at the Pu’u Wa’awa’a Ranch in the early 1960s when some wild Rio Grande turkeys were introduced.

Turkeys like the higher elevations and their population has grown significantly since their introduction. Their numbers are estimated at more than 15,000.

Did you know? Turkeys are found on all islands but are more common on the Big Island, Molokai and Lanai than the other islands.

Saffron Finch Horizon Guest House
Bird in the hand!

Saffron finch

One of our favorites, the saffron finch is commonly found on the Big Island but especially on the Kona Coast. Often seen in large flocks, you’ll find saffron finches congregating around the pond at the entrance to the B&B.

The species of saffron finch on the Big Island are originally from Columbia/Venezuela and were introduced to the Big Island around the same time as the turkeys to the Pu’u Wa’awa’a Ranch.

Did you know? A group of finches has many collective nouns, these include a ‘charm’, a ‘company’ and a ‘trembling’ of finches!

Look out for part II of our feature on the wild birds of Horizon in the future!

Come see our amazing birdlife! Click the button below to book now.

Orchid Extravaganza!

Orchid Big Island Horizon Guest House Kona 2

Guests at Horizon Guest House often ask me ‘what makes Hawaii so special?’ and the first answer that usually comes to mind is ‘the weather’.

The weather on the Big Island is consistent and doesn’t tend to change much throughout the year. The Big Island also has an added bonus – you can pick your weather within a tropical to subtropical range. Actually, you can technically find 10 of the 14 climate zones right here on the island.

Orchid Big Island Horizon Guest House Hawaii

One result of this consistent weather is the ability to grow a huge range of plants and flowers. And one of my favorites is the orchid (orchidaceae).

Orchid Big Island Hawaii Horizon Guest House

The variety of flower formations is astounding. There are about 28,000 currently accepted species and about 100,000 hybrids and cultivars.

Orchids Big Island Hawaii Horizon BnB

Developing new hybrids and cultivars is a huge endeavor on the Big Island – you can see a large number of varieties at the annual orchid show in Hilo sponsored by the Hilo Orchid Society. This year it was held on June 28-30th. I didn’t make it to this year’s show but I have been to many in past years and thoroughly recommend it. For more details check out their website here

Orchids Kona Big Island Hawaii Horizon Guest House

Fun fact! Another name for the Big Island is the ‘orchid isle’. This is because Hawaii quite quickly got a reputation for excellence in producing orchids. First grown commercially in the early 1900s, Hawaii was dubbed ‘the orchid center of the world’ when the Honolulu Orchid Society exhibited over 20,000 plants in St. Louis at the 1957 World Orchid Conference. Today, orchids are a multi-million dollar industry.

When seeing orchids out in the living room, guests frequently ask how I’m able to have them out all year. Easy – basically I feed and ignore. The weather does the rest!

Orchids Big Island Hawaii Horizon Guest House

The vanilla orchid (not pictured here) is probably one of the most well-known orchids. It is the second-most expensive spice after saffron. That’s because it’s so labor intensive. Two thirds of the world’s vanilla is grown in Madagascar and Indonesia.

I did have a vanilla orchid here at Horizon Guest House, and yes, it did bloom. The problem is that there’s a very specific window when it’s possible to pollenate – and I kept missing the window. And in the end, a turkey ripped the plant off the tree – and that was the end of my vanilla production.

Orchid Kona Big Island Hawaii Horizon Guest House

Native Orchids

There are only three types of orchids native to Hawaii. These are Anoetochilus sandvicensis (the jewel orchid); Liparis hawaiensis (the twayblade orchid); and Platanthera holochila.

The best place to find these orchids in the wild is on a hike at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, or in the wet forests on the east side of the island.

Alternatively, for all things orchid, check out Akatsuka Orchid Gardens not far from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Jewel orchid Hawaii
Jewel orchid. Photo credit: G. Daida and https://bit.ly/2plDjgu
Twayblade orchid
Photo credit. Forest & Kim Starr, CC BY 3.0, https://bit.ly/369rOct
Platanthera holochila
Photo credit. J.K. Obata

But sometimes all you need is an orchid and a sunset...

Orchid Horizon Guest House Captain Cook Hawaii

Book now by clicking the button below and then filling out our reservation request form. Or call us on 808 938 7822

Clem’s Hot Cereal Recipe: A B&B classic!

Cereal recipe Horizon Guest House Big Island Captain Cook

Over the years guests have frequently asked for recipes of items on the Horizon BnB menu. Among the most requested recipes – our wild rice hot breakfast cereal! It’s sometimes called muesli, granola or oatmeal – the name varies from region to region.

So why is it so good?

First off, it happens to be really healthy for you. The combination of whole grains is extensive. Grains take time for your body to digest. This gives you a constant energy boost without the ‘quick hit’ of processed carbs and sugar found in many other traditional breakfast cereals. The recipe is also variable. If you have a favorite grain you can add it, or substitute it for one already in the recipe.

Second, it’s very easy to prepare. Prep time is around 15 minutes. It’s oven baked and needs only one hour of attention, after that the cool-down in the oven finishes the baking.

Third, it keeps really well. You can store the cereal in containers in the refrigerator for days – heating only what you want to use that day. Longer storage in the freezer for weeks or months at a time means you can prepare a larger batch and have a supply on hand.

Fourth, it tastes good. Just the basic recipe is delicious. Add nuts, milk/cream, maple syrup, etc. to notch it up. Combine with fresh fruit of almost any kind and you have the perfect healthy breakfast.

Fifth, it’s adaptable, you can make this gluten free if needed – just substitute buckwheat for the bulgar/whole wheat in the basic recipe.

How to put it all together:

The basic recipe calls for mixing all of the ingredients in a shallow baking dish (such as a 9 x 13 cake pan).

Cereal Horizon Guest House Captain Cook Hawaii
Start with a shallow baking dish

Add all the ingredients to the pan.

Cereal recipe Horizon BnB Big Island Hawaii
Arranging ingredients in a nice pattern is optional

Add the boiling water and then stir.

Cereal recipe Horizon B&B Big Island Hawaii
Just add water!

Then cover with foil and bake at 350F oven for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and uncover – careful, that’s a hot dish you’re working with. Add sufficient water so that when stirred it has a loose consistency. Make sure to scrape any baked-on bits into the slurry.

Cover and return to oven, then turn off oven, and leave overnight, or at least 4-5 hours, to finish hydrating the grains.

Cereal recipe Horizon Guest House Big Island Captain Cook

Decant into storage containers and when cool enough, refrigerate or freeze in smaller containers for long term storage. Enjoy!

Don't forget the extras

Some extra grains I like to add:

Kalmut: an ancient grain rich in zinc, magnesium and selenium. It’s known as a ‘high-energy grain’ because of its high percentage of lipids.

Quinoa: a complete protein containing all nine essential amino acids

Spelt: high in fiber and protein it’s easier to digest than wheat

Rye: a good source of soluble fiber, vitamin E, calcium, iron and potassium.

Flax: high in omega-3 fatty acids and lignans (which have plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities).

The basic recipe is included below or click here to download the PDF.

How did your cereal turn out? Did you add any extra grains? We would love to hear your feedback! Let us know in the comments section below, or leave a comment on our Facebook post.

Wild Rice Cereal

8 c water
1/2 c wild rice
1/2 c pearl barley
1/2 c steel-cut oats
1/2 c bulgar wheat
1/2 c raisins
1/2 c chopped pitted dates 1/4 c dark brown sugar
3 tbs butter
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325 F. Butter 2 1/2 qt ovenproof dish. In prepared dish, mix wild rice with remaining ingredients. Add water [I use boiling water to shorten the bake time]. Cover with foil and bake until grains are tender, water is absorbed and cereal is creamy [about 1 1/2 hours]. *About mid-way through, I usually take it out and add more water if needed & also stir. Store in refrigerator when cool and reheat servings as needed. May be frozen.

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