What you don’t know about Green Sand Beach

Green Sand Beach Hawaii
Photo credit: explore-the-big-island.com

Green Sand beach is one of the must-see attractions on the Big Island. The beach consists of green crystals, known as olivine, mixed with black and white sand, which give the beach the green tinge it’s well-known for. A trip to Green Sand beach makes a great day trip from Kona, or Hilo. We’ve got all the details on how to make your trip to this amazing beach a memorable one.

Green Sand Beach Hawaii
Photo credit: explore-the-big-island.com

About the beach

Green Sand Beach in Hawaiʻi is one of only two Green Sand beaches in the US (the other is in Guam). The beach is part of a bay carved into the side of Pu’u Mahana, a cinder cone which first erupted over 50,000 years ago. The lava flows were heavily concentrated with olivine (a heavy green silicate) and were not easily washed out to sea (hence their presence on the beach). Over time the cone has degraded causing more olivine to move onto the beach.

Note: The beach itself is not patroled by a lifeguard and the currents can be unpredictable.

Green Sand Beach Hawaii
Olivine. Photo credit: lovebigisland.com

History

Nearby Ka Lae, Hawaiian for South Point, is thought to be the original landing point of the first Polynesians that arrived in Hawaiʻi from Tahiti. Ruins of an ancient Hawaiian temple can be found in the area.

Green Sand Beach Hawaii
Remnants of a Hawaiian temple at Ka Lae near the Green Sand Beach. Photo credit: Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images

When to go

As with a number of attractions on the Big Island (and throughout the Hawaiian Islands) the earlier you go, the better your experience will be – fewer people and cooler temperatures. The hike to the beach can be hot and windy so make sure you have enough water, adequate sun protection (shade is limited to non-existent), and sensible walking shoes. Be aware, you’ll need to take your trash with you – it helps to take your own trash bag!

Help preserve the natural environment – don’t take the green sand home with you, it belongs in Hawaiʻi.

Green Sand Beach Hawaii
Photo credit: bigislandhikes.com

How to get there

Green Sand beach (also known as Papakōlea beach) is accessed by taking Highway 11 and then turning off at the road to South Point (between mile markers 69 and 70). Drive down the road until you reach the end. You’ll find a parking lot on the left hand side.

From the parking lot, hike toward the ocean and turn left. Follow the road which runs parallel to the beach for approximately 2.5 miles. The road ends above the bay. Navigate the lava cliff carefully on your way down to the beach.

Green Sand Beach Hawaii
Photo credit: lovebigisland.com

What not to do

It’s important to respect the land adjacent to the beach as well as the beach itself. The Department of Hawaiian Homelands owns the land and actually does not permit access via vehicle to the beach (those offering rides to the beach are violating this mandate). Please be aware that your car rental agreement will not allow you to drive on the road to Green Sand beach – please don’t drive any further than the parking lot (the hike is well worth it!).

Be part of helping to preserve the natural Hawaiian environment when you visit Papakōlea beach!

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Kona’s secret garden: the Makaʻeo Walking Path

Looking for a short hike in Kona? Why not try the Makaʻeo Walking Path. Located within the Old Kona Airport State Recreation Area beside the beach, this trail is an easy hike through some colorful Hawaiian flora.

The loop path itself is less than a mile long and part of the trail has been paved. The garden itself is maintained by the local community and features a wide variety of plants – from natives to unique succulents.

Fun fact: Makaʻeo means “point of the piercing eye” and was named after the nearby point.

Makaʻeo Walking Path Kona Hawaii

The Old Airport

The Old Kona Airport was originally built in 1947. By the 1960s it was apparent that a new airport was needed as Boeing 707s and DC-8s were not able to take off on such a short runway. The new Kona International Airport was built at Keahole Point in 1970 and by 1976  the old airport was converted into a state park.

Fun fact: Walk the loop 3 times and you’ll have walked 2 miles!

Old Kona Bay

Directly opposite the garden, across the old airport runway landing strip, is a long sandy beach. There are plenty of picnic tables on the main part of the beach, or you can try the more private beach cove at the far end of the runway.

Local community support

After its conversion, the State in conjunction with the local community worked together to turn the area into multi-use path and garden space. The Kona Farm Bureau began a planting program at the north end of the proposed path, while the Kona Outdoor Circle oversaw the planting of larger trees and a grassed area.

Eventually other local community organizations became involved with the garden, including the Friends for Fitness. Facilities such as an outdoor workout space (including a chin-up bar, balance bars and stretching post) and drinking fountain were added. Members of the Friends have taken responsibility for different sections of the garden. Look out for volunteers working in the garden on Thursday mornings.

It isn’t just the Friends for Fitness who are involved with the garden. Under the Adopt-A-Park Program, members of the community, whether individuals or businesses, can take responsibility for a part of the garden. This community approach to the garden makes room for a wide variety of spaces including a Japanese garden, a Thai pavilion house and a number of sculptures.

Where? Makaʻeo Walking Path – 755560 Kuakini Hwy, Kailua-Kona

Take a tour amongst the fragrant plumeria in this unique seaside community botanical garden.

Versatile almond cookies

These almond cookies are incredibly versatile. This recipe from Jennifer Mchenry at Bake or Break allows for three distinct variations. The first is the classic almond cookie with or without an almond in the center, the second is a thumbprint cookie filled with jam, and finally a thumbprint cookie with almond butter. These cookies are the perfect companion with a cup of tea (or coffee). The not-so-secret flavor? Almond flour. It makes all the difference.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (120g) all-purpose flour

  • ¾ cup (75g) almond flour

  • ½ teaspoon baking soda

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • ¾ cup (170g) unsalted butter, softened

  • ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar

  • ¼ cup (50g) firmly packed light or dark brown sugar

  • 1 large egg yolk

  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

  • sliced almonds, for topping the cookies

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.

2. Whisk together the flour, almond flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

3. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter, sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the egg yolk and almond extract.

4. Reduce mixer speed to low. Gradually add the flour mixture, mixing just until combined.

5. Drop the dough by tablespoonfuls onto the prepared pans, leaving about 3 inches between cookies. Flatten each cookie to about 1/2-inch thick.

6. Sprinkle the top of each cookie with sliced almonds.

Or use the thumbprint method to create space for a delicious filling. We used jam and almond butter for another batch. Use any sweet filling that works for you!

Almond Cookies

7. Bake, one pan at a time, 12 to 14 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies are lightly browned and the tops appear set.

Cool on the pans for a few minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely. Let us know how your cookies turned out in the comments below! 

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South Kona restaurants: the 5 best places to eat in 2021

Like most of the country the pandemic has caused a number of restaurants on the Big Island to close – some permanently and others just temporarily. Our up-to-date guide for summer 2021 profiles the best of what’s open again in South Kona. From Kainaliu to Captain Cook, these eateries are great places to enjoy a meal along the picturesque Mamalahoa Highway. Whether it’s pizza, tacos, fried fish, burgers or coffee and a sandwich at sunset, it’s all on the Kona Coast.

1. The Coffee Shack

There’s no place better to sit and have a coffee than The Coffee Shack. With a panoramic view over the Kona Coast (26 miles of uninterrupted horizon line) it’s the perfect pit stop on your way to or from Kona. The Coffee Shack serves its very own coffee grown on the slopes below the restaurant, where 85 year old coffee trees produce Kahauloa Estate Coffee.

Menu highlights include the Pan Sautéed Ono Fish sandwich, the Papaya Special (Half Papaya filled with mixed fruit, lilikoi yogurt & coconut, served with two scrambled eggs with cheese, and coconut pound cake). And don’t forget the French Toast (made with homemade Luau Bread and sprinkled with powdered sugar) or the Kona Lime Pie!

Open Thursday through Monday, 7am to sunset. Closed Tuesday & Wednesday

83-5799 Mamalahoa Hwy,
Captain Cook, HI 96704

808-328-9555

https://www.coffeeshack.com

Drive time from Horizon: 15 mins (8.8 miles)

2. Black Rock Pizza

Newly established, Black Rock Pizza has quickly become a popular eatery with both locals and tourists. Pizzas are made with fresh artisan dough (made daily) and gourmet sauces. Dine in or take out, they have a large menu of pizzas and salads, along with local craft beer on tap.

Menu highlights include the Local Boy pizza (Kalua Pork, Ham, Bacon, Red Onions, Mushrooms, Topped w/Smoked Mozzarella) and the Mexican (Refried Bean Base, Mozzarella, Seasoned Taco Meat, Red Onions, Black Olives, Topped with Chopped Romaine Lettuce, Cold Tomato, crushed Crunchy Tortilla and a Spicy Sour Cream Drizzle).

Open Monday through Thursday 11 – 8 pm, Friday and Saturday 11-9pm and Sunday 10-8pm

82-6127 Mamalahoa Hwy, Captain Cook, HI 96704

808-731-6162

https://blackrock.pizza

Drive time from Horizon: 18 mins (10.3 miles)

3. Shaka Tacoz

Shaka Tacoz has quickly become the best place to get the tastiest tacos on the Big Island. You can’t miss the big blue sign right on the highway in Captain Cook. Order at the food truck and then eat inside with a great view out over the ocean. The perfect place for a quick stop when the hunger pains hit after a day of snorkeling or relaxing at the beach!

Menu highlights include everything taco! Choose from pork, chicken, beef, veggie or fish. All tacos are served with onion, cilantro, cheese, lettuce, pickled onion, Shaka sauce, and lime crema.

Open Sunday through Thursday 11-8pm and Friday and Saturday 11-9pm

82-6167 Mamalahoa Hwy, Captain Cook, HI 96704

(808) 896-7706

https://shakatacoz.com

Drive time from Horizon: 18 mins (10.5 miles)

4. Rebel Kitchen

Rebel Kitchen prides itself on fresh flavors, local ingredients and their very own hot sauce! Hawaiian-inspired burgers and sandwiches are served along with salads. The menu is sourced as much as possible from local farmers, butchers and fishermen.

Menu highlights include the Blackened Ono sandwich, the Rebel Burger (made with Big Island grass fed meat) and the Thai Steak salad. And don’t forget to try their amazing sauces – Kona Ketchup, Hawaiian Fire Sauce and Mauka Mustard (also available to purchase in-store or online).

Open Tuesday through Saturday 11-8pm. Closed Monday & Tuesday.

79-7399 Mamalahoa Highway, Kealakekua, HI 96750

808-322-0616

https://rebelkitchen.com

Drive time from Horizon: 24 mins (13.8 miles)

5. Teshima’s Restaurant

This Big Island institution is still going strong. Originally a family-owned store, this eatery has been operating as a Japanese/Hawaiian fusion restaurant since 1957. Specialties include shrimp tempura and sukiyaki.

Menu highlights include the Japanese breakfast (fried fish, egg, fish cake and Japanese tea), sukiyaki (thin slices of meat, tofu, and vegetables cooked in soy sauce and sugar) and “Kona Up-Country” Chop Steak! Drop in and find out why Teshima’s continues to be a local favorite.

Open Monday through Sunday – 7-2pm for breakfast and lunch and 5-9pm for dinner.

79-7251 Mamalahoa Hwy
Kealakekua, HI 96750

808-322-9140

https://www.teshimarestaurant.com

Drive time from Horizon: 25 mins (14.5 miles)

All these great restaurants are just a short drive from Horizon Guest House and located along the stunning South Kona Coast section of Mamalahoa Highway. 

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The Big Island’s wild cattle secret

Wild cattle have a long history on the Big Island of Hawaii. They first arrived as a gift for a king but within a short time they grew to become a widespread pest. The introduction of cattle may have been the reason for the birth of Hawaiian cowboy culture but wild cattle in the 21st century present ongoing challenges to the environment.

History

In the late 18th century cattle were introduced to Hawaii. After a small number of cattle were gifted to King Kamehameha I they were declared protected and no cattle were allowed to be slaughtered. By the middle of the 19th century there were over 25,000 wild cattle on the islands. Eventually the burgeoning cattle population began to damage crops, as well as proving dangerous to the general public. The ban on hunting cattle was lifted in 1832.

Did you know? Kamehameha III invited vaqueros (cattle herders) from the mainland and Mexico to train Hawaiians on how to control the growing wild cattle problem on the islands. This was the beginning of what is now known as the paniolos, or Hawaiian cowboys. Interestingly, the ukulele is a product of this cross culture mix between Hawaii and Mexico.

A wild breed

What is now the modern Hawaiian wild cattle is in fact a fairly distinctive feral breed. Smaller than the average Hereford cattle, the wild breed tends to have longer legs and is thought to have a stronger temperament. They also have a unique capacity to survive without a significant source of water for long periods. In order to survive, the cattle must glean water from dew-covered foliage or wherever they might find sitting pools of water after a rainstorm.

Ecological Damage

The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands have identified wild cattle as having a distinct negative impact on the forest environment. Cattle contribute to the spread of Rapid Ohia Death, the devastating fungal infection affecting the Ohia tree population, and even the spread of gorse.

Hunting

Because the state of Hawaii considers wild cattle to have an adverse affect on the Hawaiian forest environment hunting is welcomed. They are not just hunted to control numbers but also as a food source. Wild cattle meat is enjoyed by those locals who make the effort to hunt them, braving the rocky mountain terrain of the forest and the sometimes elusive cattle herds.

A mature Hawaiian bull can weigh as much as 2,000 pounds. This means that killing a bull is one thing but carrying the animal out of the forest is quite another. Bulls are also prone to charging when cornered so care is needed, especially as wild cattle tend to be faster and more agile than the average cattle.

McCandless Ranch

Horizon Guest House is bordered by McCandless Ranch (all photos were taken along the boundary fence), one of the many large ranches on the Big island. It’s along this boundary that herds of wild cattle can be seen emerging from the forest to graze beside the fence line. At night you may even hear the calls of bulls in heat from deep within the forest. This unique call almost sounds like it might have more in common with a dinosaur roaming the forest than a common cattle!

Wild cattle on the Big Island have a unique history and are now a well established part of Hawaiian rural life. But controlling the cattle population remains the key to conserving the forest ecosystem and protecting the flora of the Big Island.

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Sunny’s shoes: a visit from the farrier

The rocky terrain in Hawaiian pastures can be tough on horseshoes due to the unforgiving volcanic rock. As a result it’s important that Sunny’s shoes are checked regularly and kept in good shape. When the shoes need attention it’s time to call in the farrier!

Sunny Big Island HGH 10
Sunny waits patiently with Poncho in the background

What does a farrier do?

Farriers are specialists in hoof care for horses, and also donkeys. The profession itself has a long history, dating back hundreds of years.

The word farrier derives from the Latin ‘Ferrarius’, meaning ‘iron’ or ‘blacksmith’. Before there were farriers, who worked almost exclusively with horses, it was the blacksmiths that made and fitted the horseshoes.

The farrier’s job consists of the following key elements:

Observation – they must have a keen eye for when a horse might be injured or about to become lame. They must also be able to identify other illnesses or infection related to a horse’s hooves.

Trimming – it’s important that the length of a horses hooves are properly maintained. A farrier will use rasps and nippers to remove excess hoof material. 

Cleaning – a horse’s hooves need to be kept clean to avoid infection. Farriers need to carefully cut out excess hoof walls, dead sole (dead material in the hoof) and dead frog (a thrush infection, usually a black goo) if present. 

Sunny Big Island HGH 12
1. Cleaning the hooves
2. Using the nippers to clean
Sunny Big Island HGH 8
3. Fitting the new shoe
Sunny Big Island HGH 9
4. Attaching the new shoe

Our local farrier

Every six weeks it’s time for Sunny to get new shoes. Our longtime farrier, Cliff Lorenzo (above), has been doing our horses here at Horizon Guest House for many years. Cliff shoes horses on the Big Island and Maui. Among his clients are the many ranches on the Big Island, including McCandless Ranch which borders the property.

Don't forget the nails!

After the shoe has been fitted it’s time to file down the nails. Cliff uses a custom made horse stand to make it easier for him and the horse.

Where did the horses come from?

Horses were first brought to Hawaii in 1803 as a gift to King Kamehameha I. Soon after, the cattle trade increased and so did the need for horses and experienced cattle handlers. Horses became the standard mode of transport on the growing number of ranches and continue to be used on the ranches today for cattle control.

What about the donkeys?

Donkey’s are best equipped for rocky terrain and usually have sturdy hooves that don’t need shoes. Poncho and Lefty (above) don’t have shoes and the rocky environment tends to wear away any excess material on their hooves. They can even trim their own hooves in the right environment by rubbing their hooves against rocks if they need to!

The Big Island’s ranch culture has meant that farriers continue to be in demand today, making sure that horses like Sunny are kept shoed and able to comfortably graze the rocky pastures.

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The Big Island Cycling Experience

Cycling the Big Island is a great way to see the island and connect with its unique natural environment. One of the best ways to do this is with a customized biking tour of the island with Lifecycle Adventures who specialize in custom cycling vacations.

Lifecycle offers either self-guided tours, which give you the flexibility of determining your own route and schedule with support in the background, or fully guided tours with on-hand full-time support.

How does it work?

Choose when you want to start and the duration of your tour, as well as the type of accommodation that suits your needs (budget, classic or luxury).

1. Self-guided tour

The self-guided tour focuses on the northern and the western parts of the Big Island. This package includes a transfer from Kona, bicycle setup, followed by an outline of the route by your guide.

2. Private Guided Tour

A private guided tour means you’ll have a local guide and a dedicated support vehicle. Along with GPS units and maps, your guide will take care of all the details of the tour from advice on the route to washing your bottles!

Both types of tours include luggage transferred between accommodations, and transfers back to Kona at the conclusion of your trip.

Customizable itinerary

Day 1: Waikoloa to Honoka’a

Day 2: Honoka’a Loop Day

Day 3: Honoka’a to Hawi

Day 4: Hawi to Captain Cook

Day 5: Captain Cook Loop Day

Day 6: Captain Cook to Kailua-Kona

This route suits all riders from beginners to experienced. Choose from hybrid bikes (a cross between a moutain bike and a road bike), a road bike, a premium road bike (light and fast racing bikes), or an eBike. You can even organize to bring your own bike to the island!

South Kona and Horizon Guest House

What does an average day on tour look like?

Day 4: The Hawi to Captain Cook Leg

Head to the Kona coffee district and take in the expansive sea views of the South Kona coast as you cycle south.

You determine what type of cycle ride you want to attempt. 

Choose Leisure and you’ll start above Kona at Holualoa and sail down to Captain Cook on the downhill. Opt for Intermediate, and you’ll start just north of Kailua-Kona and end your day in Captain Cook. Looking for something more? Try the Challenge option and cycle from Waikoloa Village to Captain Cook over a distance of 75 miles, or boost it further with the Epic option and cycle the entirety of Hawi to Captain Cook. Note – where you choose to stay will affect the overall distance of your route.

Day 5: Captain Cook Loops

Choose from a variety of local rides to explore the area. An easy cycle ride to Kealakekua Bay, or an intermediate ride to Place of Refuge at Honaunau (Pu’uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park).

Horizon Guest House has been an established Lifecycle Adventures accommodation partner for many years. Choose Horizon Guest House for your stay in Captain Cook and end your day of cycling at Horizon with a sunset soak in the hot tub, and a restful sleep in one of our comfortable private suites.

Your guides

3-Cycle-tour-arrival-Horizon-Guest-House-Hawaii-768x576
Bruno at Horizon Guest House

Bruno & Gabi will be your Big Island guides. Residents since 2011, they are passionate about cycling and the Big Island. 

Cycling and COVID

Lifecycle has taken all necessary steps to protect your health. By it’s very nature the private tour means you won’t be exposed to strangers on your tour and all guides wear masks and adhere to social distancing. Bicycles and equipment undergo regular sanitation between guests and all accommodations have been pre-screened to ensure they follow COVID precautions.

For your peace of mind Lifecycle has modified its cancellation policy to be more flexible due to ongoing changes related to COVID measures. Please check here for more details.

Traversing the Big Island by bicycle is a great way to view the island up close. Build your own tour and enjoy your vacation with the knowledge that you have on-call support and a place to relax at the end of the day. Find out more about Lifecycle Adventures.

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The Art of Hawaiian Rock Wall Construction

Ancient Hawaiians were prolific when it came to building walls. Remains of these ancient rock walls date back to the 12th century, and can be found in places like Place of Refuge at Honaunau (Pu’uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park) as well as along highways and in commercial and residential areas.

Kona Rock Wall Hawaii
Kona

The Big Island has a plentiful supply of lava rock, making it the perfect place for residents to build a rock wall. Hawaiian blue rock is the staple for use in creating the walls, and although they can be created using the dry stacking method (see below) most are constructed using a mix of cement and sand in order to hold the rocks together. Placing the rocks is like building the perfect jigsaw, and it’s a skill that takes stone masons years to perfect.

Entrance to Horizon Guest House

Not just walls

There are two main types of rock walls. Moss rock walls and blue rock walls. Moss rocks have a particular rugged, aged appearance and often come in different color tones, giving the wall an interesting patchwork aspect. The Hawaiian blue rock is so-named for its natural blue color. Other types of lava rock include a’a lava, and pahoehoe lava. Lava rock can be used to build retaining walls, terraces, garden paths, driveways – the list is endless. The interior of rock walls are usually filled with rubble. The top of a rock wall is either finished with cement or flat pieces of lava rock are found and fitted together to form an even, flat finish.

Horizon Guest House Rock Wall Hawaii
Horizon Guest House

Ancient Hawaiians

Walls that have been created using the dry stacking technique litter the Big Island. They run across ranch land, form the remains of important ancient Hawaiian cultural sites and remind residents and visitors of the skill of ancient Hawaiian stone masons.

Dry stacking or uhau humu pohaku (pohaku means rock) is to make a construction without any mortar or joinery. Dry stacking requires a high degree of skill as the rocks must be fitted in such a way that they lock together like a series of interlocking teeth.

Dry stacking, as it’s practiced today, involves setting foundation rocks into the ground at a depth of about half a foot. The exterior of the wall is created by stacking the rocks on either side while filling in the center with smaller stones. All of these rocks are wedged together without any assistance from cement.

Place of Refuge
Place of Refuge at Honaunau (Pu'uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park) (Photo credit: https://www.nps.gov)

The Great Wall

Place of Refuge is the site of the Great Wall, or Pā Puʻuhonua. This wall stretches along the eastern and southern sides of the puʻuhonua, the ancient site where Hawaiians who broke the law could avoid almost-certain death by seeking refuge within the walled space. The wall itself is about 12 feet in height and 18 feet wide, with a length of almost 1000 feet!

9-Top-of-South-Wall
Place of Refuge at Honaunau (Pu'uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park) (Photo credit: https://www.nps.gov)

The wall served to protect the ancient Hawaiians within the area from the outside world. The wall is especially notable for it’s evidence of two dry stacking techniques. The first is paʻo (caverned), a technique involving laying lava slabs on top of columns. Evidence of this technique has not been discovered anywhere else in Hawaii. The second is the classic haka haka construction technique in which stone rubble is used to fill the interior space between the two outer walls.

Rock wall construction has a strong tradition in the Hawaiian Islands and continues to remain a popular choice for walls and gardens. Get up close to an awe-inspiring example of an ancient Hawaiian rock wall with a visit to Place of Refuge on the Kona Coast.

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Wind and cloud patterns on the Big Island

Clouds 5 Horizon Guest House Hawaii
Kona Coast

The Big Island is dominated by a pattern of east-northeast trade winds with an average wind speed of 18 miles an hour for the majority of the year. The terrain of the Big Island, with its high mountain peaks, causes the trade winds to flow around the mountains. This means there is less rainfall on the summits of these mountains. It also means that the leeward side of the island (and the other Hawaiian islands) is typically drier than the windward side of the island – hence Kona is generally dry with low rainfall while Hilo experiences a high annual rainfall.

Clouds 3 Horizon Guest House Hawaii
Big Island

Wind and cloud patterns on the Big Island

The heating and cooling processes of the islands in conjunction with patterns of trade winds contribute to causing these puffy cloud trails. Scientists have determined that as the sun heats the islands, clouds begin to form over the leeside of the island, with the trade winds carrying the warmed air downstream. The surface pressure downstream drops and the convergence increases. The warm air rises, condenses and the cloud trail extends in length. At night the islands cool and the cold air hinders cloud formation as the air moves downstream.

Clouds 1 Horizon Guest House Hawaii
Big Island

On the Big Island the Kona Coast has its own unique cloud processes. Typically clouds begin to form along the coast before noon, while the ocean remains free of clouds. By early afternoon cloud along the coast has extended out to sea. By nightfall the temperature has dropped in the coastal area covered with cloud – indicating that a cloud deck (a bank of cloud that has formed a layer at a specific altitude) has formed.

Clouds 2 Horizon Guest House Hawaii
Big Island

The topography of the Big Island greatly influences the wind and cloud patterns. The strong easterly winds around both the northern and southern ends of the island form a ‘westerly reverse flow’. This flow reaches up to 2000 meters in altitude, just below the dominant easterly trade winds. During the day, as the island heats up, the westerly reverse flow grows stronger and moist air is carried to the Kona Coast. Clouds begin to form on the slopes along the coast, but the reverse flow stops the warmth created by the island from forming the cloud trail typically seen on the other islands.

Clouds 4 Horizon Guest House Hawaii
Mauna Kea, Big Island

The Hawaiian names for wind, clouds and rain

Hawaiians have many names for sky and cloud formations. These names demonstrate the Hawaiian culture’s profound connection to the physical environment.

  • ao puaʻa – these are cumulus clouds of different sizes massed together. These types of patterns are common on the Kona coast, and indicate that good weather is ahead and not a storm.
  • ao pehupehu – common in summer, these refer to cumulus clouds increasing in size. Often present with trade winds, these formations grow darker (especially at their base) causing rain on the windward slopes.
  • hoʻomalumalu – sheltering cloud
  • hoʻoweliweli – threatening cloud
  • ānuenue – rainbow, considered to be a favorable omen
  • ua loa – an extended rainstorm
  • ua poko – a short spell of rain
  • Kūkalahale – the name of a type of wind and rain famous in Honolulu.
  • kili hau – an ice-cold shower, or a cold drizzle.
  • makani – a general term for wind. The prevailing northeast trade winds of Hawaiʻi are called moaʻe, aʻe, aʻe loa, Moaʻe Lehua, or moaʻe pehu. A leeward wind is a Kona wind.
  • Kaiāulu – the name of a gentle trade wind famous in song at Waiʻanae, Oʻahu.
  • ʻōlauniu – the name of a wind on Hawaiʻi. The figurative translation means promiscuous, and a literal translation means coconut-leaf piercing.

The Hawaiian Islands’ cloud patterns are influenced by winds and mountain height as well as the heating and cooling processes of the island itself. These factors affect the cloud formation on the leeside of the islands helping to create this puffy cloud trail phenomenon. On the Big Island though, clouds are formed by more complex processes that create a typically sunny morning, followed by a cloudy afternoon with an increased chance of rain.

Further reading

International Pacific Research Center. (2008). The Cloud Trails of the Hawaiian Isles. IPRC Climate, 8(2). http://iprc.soest.hawaii.edu/newsletters/newsletter_sections/iprc_climate_vol8_2/cloud_trails_hawaii.pdf

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Bees on the Big Island

Big Island Bees
Photo credit: hawaiimagazine.com

Bees are big business on the Big Island. It’s where 90% of all hives in the Hawaiian Islands are located. Beekeeping happens year round. Between November and January there is a reduction in the available nectar but soon after January the Macadamia nut trees flower, the nectar is plentiful again, and the bee populations increase!

Kona Queen Hawaii Photo by Ronit Fahl
Kelly O’Day, Kona Queen Hawaii. Photo credit: Ronit Fahl

Did you know

European bees were introduced to the islands in the late 1800s. 80% of food production on the Big Island requires bee pollination. Producers of coffee and macadamia nuts need the help of honey bees. Those who supply avocados, lilikoi and other crops to farmers markets are also reliant on bees for helping propagation.

  • Sales from bee-pollinated crops in Hawaii are more than $200 million.
  • There are approximately 15,000 hives in Hawaii.
  • Hawaii’s honey production was $3.2 million in 2018.
  • Hawaii supplies 25% of the queen bees on the Mainland and 75% of those in Canada.
bees3 Big Island Hawaii Horizon Guest House
Photo credit: HomesteadinHawaii.com

Queen bees are exported from Hawaii to the rest of the world. Hawaii exports more than $10 million a year in queen bees. Because of the climate Hawaii is able to supply queen bees all year round. 

Queen bee shipping cage. Photo credit: Ronit Fahl

The majority of the queen bee producers are here on the Big Island. These include Kona Queen Hawaii. While Kona itself provides the perfect weather for cultivating queen bees – warm weather, not much rain – Hilo, with its high annual rainfall is less ideal. However, this environment still produces some unique nectar flows.

Photo credit: Big Island Beekeepers Association

Plants that help the bees

The Big Island’s many climatic zones create numerous areas for beekeeping to take place.The amazing variety of flowers means there are a large number of specific nectar flows, resulting in some amazing honey varieties. There are a number of artisan honey producers that supply these type of niche flavors, including those produced from the Ohia Lehua and Christmas Berry trees.

Varroa Mites

In the 2000s varroa mites almost completely destroyed the beekeeping industry on the Big Island and Oahu. As a result, importing bees into Hawaii is now illegal.

Bee Culture Big Island Hawaii
Photo credit: beeculture.com

What do bees need in the tropics?

Bees need the morning sun and then later in the day they need some shade. If bees are grown at slightly higher altitudes, then full sun may be suitable since the overall temperature may be cooler. Bees also need easy access to water. This might be as simple as a bird bath or a shallow dish of water. Shelter from the wind is also needed, since wind can cause rain to be driven into the hives, disrupting the temperature of the hive. Bees also like their privacy, and flourish when kept away from heavy foot traffic or other human activity.

Big Island Bees Hawaii Horizon Guest House
Photo credit: manoahoney.com

Types of honey

Pure Honey: This means it’s 100% honey, no other ingredients (such as corn syrup).

Raw honey: Is pure honey that has not been heated to the point of pasteurization – retaining all the extra goodness of honey, such as the natural enzymes and vitamins.

Organic honey: Organic honey is produced using pollen from only organically grown plants (no pesticides).

Unfiltered honey: Is honey that has not been filtered – the process by which very small particles are removed. This makes the honey close to the honey that is removed directly from the hive.

Where to get it!

Big Island Bees
Photo credit: Jeffsetter.com

The Big Island Bees honey farm is only a short drive from Horizon Guest House. Visit the farm and experience a beekeeping tour, visit the museum and enjoy a free honey tasting! 

The Big Island is the home of Hawaiian honey, so make sure you try some of Hawaii’s best kept secret!

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