To Grill or Not to Grill?

South Kona has many great restaurants, from casual to fine dining, but sometimes, at the end of a long day of adventures on the Big Island, staying in and grilling out sounds even better.

At Horizon Guest House we offer an alternative to restaurant dining – our very own BBQ area. Located right next to the infinity pool, our BBQ area is complete with everything you need. We have a large gas BBQ, an ample-sized bench area for food preparation, a working sink, and all the dishes, flatware and cooking utensils you could need.

Give yourself a break from the restaurant routine

Nothing is better than a home-cooked meal. Here at Horizon you can enjoy everything a traditional bed and breakfast has to offer as well as the ability to cook out. Make the most of produce from local farmers markets, locally sourced meat and seafood, and grill your choice of steak, chicken or fish on our BBQ.

Grill with a view

Enjoy your meal at one of the nearby tables overlooking the pool and the Kona Coast. Toast the sunset at the end of the day, safe in the knowledge that you can have a drink without worrying about having to drive – your room awaits only a short walk away.

Not just dinner

Fancy a lazy afternoon BBQ by the pool? Use the poolside kitchen area to make lunch as well. All guest rooms have their own refrigerator and guests are welcome to use the much larger shared refrigerator in the guest utility room.

Horizon Guest House laundry Big Island Hawaii
Utility room with guest refrigerator

The guest refrigerator is the perfect place to store all the groceries you need for your lunch or dinner creation. The poolside kitchen area is already stocked with a basic set of utensils but let Clem know if there’s something else you need for the meal you have planned – he’s more than happy to help make your lunch or dinner unforgettable.

Tip: Don’t hesitate to buy that bottle of wine – we have wine glasses you can use, and of course an ice cold refrigerator to keep it chilled.

Where to shop

Now you’ve decided to grill out, so where should you shop? Let us help. Below is a list of local stores, beginning near the airport and heading south toward Horizon Guest House. Most are on Highway 11 or a short distance down a side road.

1. Costco

Costco Kona Hawaii
Photo credit: https://bit.ly/36ro31a

Familiar to all Americans, Costco has everything you need. For non-residents, please be aware you will need to be a Costco member to shop here. Only 12 minutes, or 4.6 miles, from the Kona Airport. Hours: Mon – Fri 10:00am – 8:30pm, Sat 9:30am – 6:00pm, Sun 10:00am – 6:00pm. More details https://www.costco.com/warehouse-locations/kailua-kona-HI-140.html

2. Safeway

Safeway Kona Big Island Hawaii Horizon Guest House
Photo credit: https://bit.ly/37ARcbG

No membership necessary. Great all-purpose grocery store. Located on Henry Street, just above Wal-Mart and about 500 feet from Highway 11. Open 24 hours. https://bit.ly/2t3FIOM 

3. Kona Butcher Shop

Kona Butcher Shop Kona Big Island Hawaii
Photo credit: https://bit.ly/36oVqS8

New to Kona, this butcher shop opened just last year and supplies locally sourced meat and seafood. Hours: Tues – Fri 10:30am – 6pm and Sat – Mon 11am – 5pm. http://konabutchershop.com

4. ChoiceMART

ChoiceMart Captain Cook Hawaii
Photo credit: https://bit.ly/37wkg3P

Less than 10 miles from Horizon Guest House, and often called ‘our country mini Safeway’, it stocks a great variety of groceries, a good selection of produce and has a new seafood deli section. https://www.choicemarthawaii.com

Added bonus – Kona Brewery is on tap. Purchase a growler (jug) of your favorite Kona Brew. https://konabrewingco.com

So why not take advantage of something that few B&Bs offer – outdoor kitchen facilities – and enjoy a homemade meal beside the pool with the magnificent Kona Coast as your backdrop.

To make a reservation at Horizon Guest House click the Book Now button below.

Author: Angus Meek

The Kona Street Market & Sunset Saturdays

Kokoua Village Stroll Kona Street Market
Photo credit: www.historickailuavillage.com

For one Sunday afternoon every month Ali’i Drive in Kailua-Kona’s historic village is closed for traffic and the street transformed into a vibrant, pedestrian-only marketplace. The Kona street market is known as the Kokua Kailua Village Stroll and makes for a great way to shop, dine and buy locally made produce – all while supporting a special community event.

Kona Stroll Big Island Hawaii
Photo credit: www.bigislandguide.com

When is it?

The Kona Stroll is held on the third Sunday of every month between 1–6pm. This year the dates for the Kona street market are as follows:

Kona Stroll 2020

January 19, February 16, March 15, Saturday, April 4 coincides with Hawaiian Mission Bicentennial celebration, May 17, June 14, July 19, August 16, September 20, October 18, November 15, December 13.

Kailua-Kona Stroll Big Island Hawaii Kona Street Market
Photo credit: www.bigislandguide.com

Where is it?

75-5677 Ali’i Drive. This stretch of Ali’i Drive runs along the waterfront in Kailua-Kona’s historic village. This picturesque location, overlooking Kailua Bay, gives locals and tourists alike the opportunity to stroll the marketplace, as well as adjoining shops and restaurants.

What to expect at the Kona Street Market

Stalls sell a range of merchandise including koa wood products, natural oils, and plenty of other homemade creations – including jams and chutneys. There are also food stalls and arts and craft sellers.

 

Fun fact: Kokua is a Hawaiian word that means to help others. In this context it encompasses the idea of helping others in the community by giving your time. Think of your stroll amongst the marketplace as a way to help support the local community.

Kona Street Market
Photo credits: www.historickailuavillage.com

An Afternoon at Hulihe'e Palace

Hulihee Palace Kona Street Market
Photo credit: www.wheretraveler.com

In the heart of Kailua-Kona’s historic village is Hulihe’e Palace. Originally built as a vacation home for Hawaiian royalty in 1838, the palace is used today to showcase Victorian-era artifacts from the reign of King Kalākaua and Queen Kapi’olani. Also on show – koa wood furniture, portraits, kapa*, feather work, Hawaiian quilts and other royal artifacts.

On the same Sunday as the scheduled Kona Stroll the palace holds an ‘Afternoon at Hulihe’e Palace’ – a festive cultural afternoon with hula and mele (chants, songs or poems). This is a great way to experience local Hawaiian culture – suitable for the whole family.

Hulihee Palace Kona Coast Big Island Street Market
Photo credit: www.bigislandguide.com

The concert, held on the palace lawns, features free music and performances from the Hulihe’e Palace Band and the Merrie Monarchs Chorale as they perform traditional and modern Hawaiian music. The music starts from 4pm.

Did you know? *Kapa is the Hawaiian word for barkcloth. Usually made out of paper mulberry, hibiscus or even breadfruit bark, Hawaiian kapa is different. Hawaiians use a watermark to decorate kapa. These watermarks are small designs that can be seen clearly when the kapa is held up to the light. Kapa was often used for clothing, or even bed covers for those lucky enough to be of a chiefly caste.

For more information on this fascinating subject: https://www.mauimagazine.net/beauty-in-the-bark/

Missed the Kona Stroll?

Hawaiian Sunset Saturdays
Photo credit: www.thisweekhawaii.com

If you missed the stroll why not head along to another great free event held on Ali’i Drive in the historic village. Hawaiian Sunset Saturdays is held on the last Saturday of every month from 5:30pm to 6:30pm. This community event is a great way to celebrate the amazing Big Island sunsets with live music and hula.

Bring a beach blanket or a lawn chair and enjoy the view.

Where? The lawn at Coconut Grove Marketplace, 75-5809 Ali’i Drive.

To see a complete listing of all the dates for the Kokua Kailua Village Stroll and Hawaiian Sunset Saturdays, download the PDF here.

Hawaiian Sunset Saturdays Kona Big Island Hawaii
Photo credit: www.thisweekhawaii.com

To make a reservation at Horizon Guest House click the Book Now button below.

Author: Angus Meek

Manta Ray Diving on the Kona Coast

Manta Ray Kona Hawaii Big Island Horizon B&B
Photo credit: Horizon Guest House

The Big Island of Hawaii is famous for many things but perhaps one of the most popular and unique attractions is the manta ray night dive. Don’t worry if you’re not a certified diver – snorkelers can still experience the thrill of being close to these majestic creatures.

Why are manta rays so special?

The manta rays inhabiting the Kona Coast are reef manta rays, one of the largest species of manta rays in the world. These amazing creatures can grow in size to anywhere between 12 and 18 feet. Life expectancy can be anywhere up to 50 years.

Manta rays are filter feeders – they survive on plankton. By gliding through the ocean with their giant mouths open they filter the plankton out of the water. The reef manta rays are so-called because they prefer to stay close to the coast of the Hawaiian islands.

Did you know? Manta rays derive their name from the Portuguese and Spanish word for ‘mantle’ which is a blanket-shaped trap historically used to catch this type of fish.

Manta Ray Night Diving Kona B&B Horizon
Photo credit: Horizon Guest House

Why night dive with the mantas?

A night dive with mantas is essential in order to see these great creatures up close. Their prey, the plankton, are light sensitive and are drawn to the glow of dive flashlights – providing a perfect meal for the manta rays.

This creates the perfect environment for a close encounter with the mantas. If you choose to scuba you will be weighted so that you can sit comfortably on the sea floor around a collection of dive lights, a kind of ‘campfire’, while the mantas circle above – almost like a scene out of ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’.

If you choose to snorkel you’ll have a very similar experience at approximately 30 feet above. Snorkelers gather around a floating raft with bright lights that also attract the mantas. The dive itself lasts for approximately 45-60 minutes. The mantas will swim very close, but don’t worry they’re too focused on enjoying their meal to worry about you!

Fun fact: Don’t be afraid! The manta rays are large but harmless. They do not have stingers, barbs or teeth.

Where are the mantas?

There are two principal dive sites. The main dive site is near the Kona Airport runway, about a 25-30 minute boat trip from Honokohau Harbor. In this location there can be as many as two dozen mantas congregating during a night dive. The other, less well-known site is near the Sheraton Hotel in Keauhou Bay.

Several companies run charters out to these dive sites – we recommend Big Island Divers https://bigislanddivers.com/

Did you know? In Hawaii the manta rays are a protected species – it is illegal to hunt or fish them. Hawaiian mythology depicts the manta as catching the setting sun in their mouths before swimming to the other side of the island to deliver the sunrise. Find out more about manta ray preservation and protection from Manta Ray Advocates https://mantarayadvocates.com

What else might I see when diving on the Kona Coast?

Open Ocean Ray Kona Hawaii Horizon Guest House
Open ocean manta - Chill Ray / Photo credit: Horizon Guest House

While it’s almost guaranteed* that you’ll see reef mantas during the night dive, there’s plenty to see during the day too. If you’re lucky you might see the pelagic or open ocean manta. I was lucky enough to spot one (see above), an individual that had never been photographed before.

*Big Island Divers offer either a 50% discount on a seat for another manta charter, or a 100% discount on standby availability seats for another one-tank manta charter, if no mantas are seen during a dive.

Did you know? Mantas, like humpbacks, have individual markings. These markings are catalogued by marine biologists. Let me know if you see the manta I photographed – it’s officially named ‘Chill Ray’.

Open Ocean Ray Chill Ray Kona B&B Horizon
Open ocean manta - Chill Ray / Photo credit: Horizon Guest House

Whether scuba or snorkeling you’ll see plenty of yellow tang (a surgeon fish).

Yellow tang Kona Hawaii Horizon Guest House
Yellow tang / Photo credit: Horizon Guest House

Almost as equally prevalent is the raccoon butterfly fish.

Raccoon butterfly fish
Raccoon butterfly fish / Photo credit: Horizon Guest House

Don’t forget the turtle! An encounter with a sea turtle is an unforgettable experience.

Sea turtle Kona Hawaii Big Island
Sea turtle / Photo credit: Horizon Guest House

When scuba diving at the Kona Airport dive site you may encounter Hawaiian garden eels. These eels rise out of the sand to feed but keep part of their body in their burrow in order to instantly pop back down when threatened.

Bi-color anthias and black and white damsel fish with Hawaiian garden eels in the background / Photo credit: Horizon Guest House

There is also plenty of cave diving on the Kona Coast – some near the manta dive sites. Here you’re likely to see fish that feed at night like the menpachi, see below.

Menpachi Kona Hawaii Big Island Horizon B&B
Menpachi with a solitary cleaner wrasse / Photo credit: Horizon Guest House

You may also see soft coral on cave ceilings and walls.

Soft Coral Kona Hawaii
Soft coral / Photo credit: Horizon Guest House

If you’re lucky you might even see a ‘ruby’ among the coral – a flame angelfish.

Flame angelfish with kole surgeon / Photo credit: Horizon Guest House

Count yourself extremely lucky if you spot our endangered monk seal. Rarely seen anymore, but it’s still possible.

Monk Seal Kona Hawaii Horizon Guest House
Monk seal / Photo credit: Horizon Guest House

Don’t forget to book your dive trip early – the manta ray dives and snorkel tours can book up fast.

To make a reservation at Horizon Guest House click the Book Now button below.

Author: Angus Meek

4WD or 2WD? What to rent on the Big Island

Jeep Mustang Hawaii

Not sure what car to rent on the Big Island? Confused over whether to rent a Jeep or a convertible? We take a look at the options and tell you what you need to know.

Big Island rentals

Photo credit: Kona Airport

Renting a car while staying on the Big Island of Hawaii is essential in order to take advantage of everything the island has to offer. While it is possible to do without a car if you intend to stay at a resort for the entirety of your vacation, we thoroughly recommend hiring a car to make the most of your Big Island experience.

All of the national car rental companies operate out of Kona and Hilo international airports. There are also some rental car locations in Kailua-Kona as well as at the resorts north of Kona in Waikoloa.

4WD or 2WD?

Photo credit: rentaljeeps.com

Trying to decide between a 4WD or a 2WD rental vehicle depends on what you might do on the island and whether you want to feel the wind in your hair!

White mustang

4WD

PROS:

  • Easy access to everywhere on the island including Green Sand Beach and Waipio Valley – where 4WDs are mandatory (for Mauna Kea – see details in the next section).
  • Fun to drive

CONS:

  • More expensive
  • Functional, but the tradeoff is often less comfort

2WD

PROS:

  • Larger range of cars to choose from – and more fun if you choose a convertible!
  • Cheaper

CONS:

  • You won’t be able to go everywhere the 4WD can
  • With the top down on your convertible take care in the sun and also watch out for rain showers – they can appear and disappear on the island quickly.

Getting up Mauna Kea

Photo credit: Harpers Car Rentals

Access to the summit is currently closed due to protest action – for more detail on what’s going on check out our blog post https://horizonguesthouse.com/2019/11/13/whats-going-on-with-mauna-kea/

The bad news is that even when access is restored you will need a 4WD to reach the summit and most car rental agencies will not allow you take a car any farther than the visitor center. Your options are to either join a tour to experience the summit, or to rent a 4WD from Harpers Car Rentals – the only car rental agency that allows its 4WD rentals to traverse the Saddle Road to the summit.

Chevy Suburban
Chevy Suburban

Do I need to book early?

It can pay to book early during peak holiday season (between Christmas and New Year) and also during events that draw a lot of visitors to the island, in particular the Merrie Monarch festival (a famous hula competition) in mid-April and the Ironman Triathlon (October 10, 2020). Don’t be caught out – make sure you book early if you’re on the island during these periods.

To make a reservation at Horizon Guest House click the Book Now button below.

Author: Angus Meek

Top 5 hiking trails on the Kona Coast

Captain Cook trail Kona
Captain Cook Monument trail / Photo credit: Lang Parker

Stretch your legs and work off those holiday cocktails by taking a hike during your stay on the Big Island. There are plenty of spectacular hiking trails on the Kona Coast – these are our top 5

1. Captain Cook Monument Trail

The Captain Cook Monument trail is 1.8 miles each way. We recommend you start your hike early, taking care on the trail as you descend down into the bay – look out for wild pigs and goats. Pu’uhonua o Honaunau (Place of Refuge) will be visible once you emerge from the tall elephant grass that surrounds the trail for the first mile or so. Toward the end of the trail there are two paths – one directly down to the bay, and the other to the monument. The change in elevation is 1300 ft. so be prepared for the return hike by making sure you bring plenty of water, sunscreen and appropriate footwear. Don’t forget your snorkeling gear – Kealakekua Bay has some of the best snorkeling in Hawaii.

Fun fact: The land within the chained-off area surrounding the Captain Cook Monument is actually the only remaining British territory in the United States.

Getting there: The Captain Cook Monument trail is approximately 12 miles south of Kailua-Kona. Turn onto Napo’opo’o Road from Highway 11 and the beginning of the trail is around 50 yards from the turn off. Parking is on the roadside.

Drive time from Horizon: 20 minutes north

Captain Cook trail
Photo credit: Horizon Guest House

2. Makuala O'Oma Trail

Makuala O'Oma Trail Kona Hawaii
Photo credit: https://bit.ly/2Dw9NrN

The Makuala O’Oma trail is a 1.5 mile loop trail located at the Makahi Street trailhead above Kailua-Kona. There are a number of additional trails accessed from this starting point but this loop is perfect for hikers of all abilities. The track cuts through lush forest, remaining shaded and cool the entire way – the temperatures are significantly lower at this elevation (3500 ft.) than in Kailua-Kona. We recommend using a map (alltrails.com provide comprehensive maps) or GPS on your phone, since some of the trails are not well marked.

Fun fact: In the mid-1990s the Hawaii State Department of Forestry and Wildlife, in partnership with TREE (the Tropical Reforestation & Ecological Education organization), began a reforestation program for koa trees in the area.

Getting there: Head out of Kailua-Kona on Kaloko Drive and turn onto Makahi Street. The trailhead is at the end of the street. Park on the side of the road.

Drive time from Horizon: 55 minutes north

Makuala O'Oma Trail Kona Hawaii 2
Photo credit: Hawai'i Birding Trails https://bit.ly/2Dw9NrN

3. Makalawena Beach Trail

Makalawena beach Kona Hawaii 2
Photo credit: Erin Hinz

What could be better than a hiking trail to one of the most beautiful beaches on the island! Makalawena Beach is part of Kekaha Kai State Park and the hike is approximately a 4 mile return journey. From the parking area (see the Getting there section below) walk west on the road where you’ll eventually find a gate just north of Makalawena. The beach is another quarter mile from the gate. Don’t forget to stay on the beach as the surrounding area is private property.

Fun fact: Kekaha Kai State Park comes from the Hawaiian phrase ke kaha kai, which means ‘the shore line’.

Getting there: You can hike to Makalawena Beach from the north or the south. We recommend the hike in from the north. From Highway 19 north of Kailua-Kona turn off onto the dirt road just south of the road to Kua Bay – between mile markers 88 and 89. Park just off the highway before the road conditions get rough (4WD vehicles may travel farther but we don’t recommend it).

Drive time from Horizon: 57 minutes north

Makalawena beach trail Kona Hawaii 1
Photo credit: Donnie MacGowan

4. Pu'u Ku'ili Trail

Pu’u Ku’ili is the cinder cone clearly visible from highway 19 north of Kona. An easy hike, this short walk is perfect to begin or end the day – and an incredible location to view the sunrise or the sunset. The trail approaches the cone by ascending the western ridge to the summit. From the small parking area below, this hike is less than half a mile, with an elevation change of only 175 feet. Tip: Combine this mini-hike with the longer hike to Makalawena beach.

Fun fact: Don’t stay too late, the gates to Kua Bay shut at 7pm. If you want to arrive for the sunrise, park on the side of the road near the locked gates and walk in.

Getting there: From highway 19 take the paved road to Kua Bay, between mile markers 88 and 89. Follow the paved road for a half mile until you pass Pu’u Ku’ili. There is a small parking area to the left – either park here, or farther down at the Kua Bay parking area and walk back up the road.

Drive time from Horizon: 59 minutes north

5. Manukā Nature Trail

Manuka Nature Trail
Photo credit: W Nowicki CC BY 3.0, Link

The Manukā Nature trail is part of the Manukā Natural Area Reserve and the trailhead is at the Manukā State Wayside Park. This is a 2 mile loop trail, and includes a pit crater. Take care on the track, the terrain is quite rocky and can be challenging. Allow a couple of hours to complete the loop.

Getting there: Manukā State Wayside Park. Mamalahoa Highway (Highway 11), 19.3 miles west of Na’alehu.

Fun fact: The Manukā State Wayside Park contains an arboretum (a botanical collection of trees) originally planted in the mid-19th century and now boasts more than 40 species native to Hawaii.

Drive time from Horizon: 28 minutes south

Manuka Trail Hawaii Pit Crater
Photo credit: Jeremy Dye

To make a reservation at Horizon Guest House click the Book Now button below.

Author: Angus Meek

Top 5 restaurants in South Kona

Galbi 808 South Kona 4
Photo credit: TK Noodle House

Looking to eat out in South Kona? Check out our top five restaurants in the area. Whether you crave a classic burger and fries, fresh sashimi, or something spicy, it’s all here on the Kona Coast.

1. Rebel Kitchen

This local favorite serves a selection of salads, sandwiches and burgers, as well as specialty dishes – their coconut curry ono and shrimp is dreamy, and why not try their chicken fajita wontons (hand-rolled). Rebel Kitchen believe in using local suppliers as much as possible, sourcing from Big Island farmers, butchers and fishermen. They also sell a range of amazing sauces, their Hawaiian Fire Sauce packs a punch!

Style: Casual dining

Where: 79-7399 Mamalahoa Highway, Kealakekua, HI

Drive time from Horizon: 26 minutes

When: Tues–Sat / 11am–8pm

Online: www.rebelkitchen.com / Instagram @rebelkitchen

Contact. 808 322 0616

2. Galbi 808 Korean BBQ (formerly TK Noodle House)

Galbi 808 is part of the TK Noodle House family – they still serve the TK Noodle House menu – but they’ve rebranded and added something new, Korean BBQ. They describe their style as fresh and fast. Offering some of the best noodle dishes we’ve ever eaten – their chicken pad Thai is always delicious – and some tasty salads and soups, as well as the new Korean BBQ mixed plates. Wash it all down with one of their famous bubble tea smoothies (served with Tapioca Pearl) – you know you want to!

Style: Asian Fusion.

Where: 79-7460 Mamalahoa Highway, Kealakekua, HI

Drive time from Horizon: 25 minutes

When: Mon–Sat / 11:30am–8pm

Online: www.cheftk.com / Facebook Galbi 808 Korean BBQ

Contact: 808 324 0070

3. Annie's Island Fresh Burgers

Often voted the home of the best burger in West Hawaii, Annie’s is more than a regular burger joint. Committed to using locally sourced organic produce, locally caught fish, and making sure your burgers are made with only the best grass-fed beef (raised on the Big Island of course!), eat at Annie’s and know you’re supporting the local community. You can’t go past the Ultimate Classic Burger to sate even the largest appetite, or try their unique Taro burger, made with locally grown taro. There’s a full bar – get there between 3–5pm daily to enjoy happy hour.

Style: Classic burgers with a conscience.

Where: 79-7460 Mamalahoa Highway, Kealakekua, HI

Drive time from Horizon: 25 minutes

When: Daily / 11am–8pm

Online: www.anniesislandfreshburgers.com / Instagram @anniesburgers

Contact: 808 324 6000

4. Teshima's Restaurant

Since 1957 Teshima’s has been providing a mixture of some of the best Japanese and Hawaiian dishes. Whether you’re in the mood for fresh sashimi, shrimp tempura or Kona beef curry stew, Teshima’s offers a comfortable, intimate dining atmosphere. Come and enjoy the best tempura on the Big Island at this local institution.

Style: Japanese & Hawaiian cuisine.

Where: 79-7251 Mamalahoa Highway, Kealakekua, HI

Drive time from Horizon: 20 minutes

When: Daily / 6:30am–1:45pm & 5pm–9pm

Online: www.teshimarestaurant.com / Instagram @teshimas

Contact: 808 322 9140

5. Keei Cafe

Fresh food, local art and live music – what could be better! Keei Café combines all of these and provides an upmarket dining experience with an eclectic menu. Try their peanut miso salad, or their rack of New Zealand lamb. Reservations are recommended, so call ahead. Cash only.

Style: Hawaiian fine dining

Where: 79-7511 Mamalahoa Highway, Kealakekua, HI

Drive time from Horizon: 23 minutes

When: Tues–Sat / 5pm–9pm

Online: www.keeicafe.net / Instagram @Keei_cafe

Contact: 808 322 9992

Click the Book Now button below to make a reservation at Horizon Guest House.

Author: Angus Meek

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). [Update 12/28/2019  – access road to the summit now open. For more details see below].

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

Find out more about the Mauna Protectors www.puuhuluhulu.com and follow them on Instagram Puʻuhonua o Puʻuhuluhulu 

Updates

November, 2019A work permit has been issued that allows the TMT partners to build the TMT in the Canary Islands. However, no decision has been made and the Mauna Kea site remains their preferred option.

December, 2019. As of Saturday 28th December the summit road to Mauna Kea is now open. The Mauna Kea protectors agreed to allow access after Mayor Harry Kim assured them that the TMT would not begin construction until the end of February. The protectors will continue to occupy the adjacent land. At this stage protest action is likely to resume beyond February as no resolution as been reached.

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

Brestovansky, M. (2019). TMT, Canary Islands Reach Land Agreement. Retrieved from https://www.westhawaiitoday.com/2019/11/20/hawaii-news/tmt-canary-islands-reach-land-agreement/

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 Promised, TMT Protestors Move Tent Blocking Mauna Kea Access Road. Retrieved from https://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/2019/12/28/moving-day-mauna-kea-after-temporary-truce-announced/

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/  

Author: Angus Meek

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

To book now fill out our reservation request form (click the button below) or call us on 808 938 7822

Author: Angus Meek

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.

Ready to book? Click the book now button below to make a reservation.

Author: Angus Meek

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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Author: Angus Meek