Farmers Markets on the Kona Coast

Kona Farmers Market 1
Photo credit: alohadreams.com

Make time during your stay on the Big Island to experience the best of the island’s locally grown produce, and locally made arts and crafts. There are many farmers markets on the Big Island – check out our favorites on the Kona Coast.

1. The Kona Farmers Market

This market is located in central Kona near Kailua Bay. One of the busier markets on the Big Island with over 40 vendors, you’ll find a wide range of produce and goods – from locally grown fruit and vegetables to assorted arts and crafts.

Kona Farmers Market 2
Photo credit: https://bit.ly/3993dpc

You can also expect to find flowers and leis, locally made jewelry, wooden bowls and carvings, 100% Kona coffee, locally made soaps, shaved ice, locally made honey and even hand-blown glass (look out for the amazing glass blowing demonstrations).

When and where?

The Kona Farmers market operates from Wednesday to Sunday between 7 – 4pm near the corner of Ali’i Drive and Hualalai Road.

2. The Pure Kona Green Market

Pure Kona Market 3
Photo credit: lovebigisland.com

This popular market is committed to providing locally sourced produce and goods, and handmade arts and crafts – with a special emphasis on products that contribute to sustainable living. The market’s motto is ‘From the Land, by Our Hand’ and has grown rapidly over the last few years and now boasts 80 vendors.

Pure Kona Market 4
Photo credit: afar.com

Amongst the abundance of local produce, including Kona coffee, honey and macadamia nuts is a large contingent of local arts and crafts vendors. Food stalls and live music make this a great day out for everyone.

Hot tip: The Pure Kona Green Market is the closest farmers market to Horizon Guest House, making it a great place to stock up on fresh fruit, or even some vegetables if you decide to grill out by the pool.

Vendor profile: Big Island Moonbow Farms
Wai Meli honey 5
Photo credit: waimeli.com

This farm uses organic methods to produce their raw honey called Wai Meli. The honey is not heated or processed in any way. For more information about their honey and their process – waimeli.com

When and where?

The Pure Kona Green Market is held every Sunday from 9 – 2pm at the Amy Greenwell Botanical Gardens, 82-6188 Mamalahoa Highway, directly opposite the Manago Hotel in Captain Cook.

3. Ho’oulu Community Farmers Market

Ho'oulu Farmers Market 6
Photo credit: hooulufarmersmkt.com

The Ho’oulu Community Farmers Market has between 20 to 40 vendors selling everything from local produce, coffee and macadamia nuts to arts and crafts.

In order to support the local community the market has a strict policy that all materials and produce must come from the Big Island. You’ll find fresh produce, nuts, jams, jellies and sauces. So whether it’s lilikoi delicacies, organic honey, frozen fruit popsicles or fresh cold cut coconuts – it’s all available at this local market.

Ho'oulu Farmers Market 7
Photo credit: Sonia Martinez
When and where?

This market is held every Wednesday between 9 – 2pm at the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa, Keauhou Bay, on the lawn beside Kaleiopapa Street.

4. Keauhou Farmers Market

Keauhou Farmers Market
Photo credit: lovebigisland.com

Held in the parking lot of the Keauhou Shopping Center, this is a small market with everything you need. Committed to selling only produce grown on the Big Island, you’ll find delicious honey, coffee, macadamia nuts, meat, eggs and fresh bread.  

Keauhou Farmers Market
Photo credit: afar.com

The Keauhou Farmers Market works with a number of local farm vendors to bring you the best in local quality produce.

Vendor profile: Earthly Delights Farm
EarthlyDelights-KeauhouFarmersMarket 8
Photo credit: keauhoufarmersmarket.com

Earthly Delights Farm – a certified organic farm, they produce Kona coffee, macadamia nuts, tropical fruit, Kona chocolate, tropical dried fruit and tropical pastries!

When and where?

Every Saturday between 8–12pm at the Keauhou Shopping Center in front of Ace Hardware, 78-6831 Ali’i Drive, Kona. 

Support 100% Big Island!

Visiting a farmers market during your stay is not only a great way to sample the delights of the Big island but it’s also a great way to support the local community. 

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.

Anthias damsel fish Kona Hawaii Big Island
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 Kona Hawaii
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

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 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
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

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.

Author: Angus Meek

Big Island Lava and the Hawaiian Diamond

A'a and Pahoehoe Big Island Horizon BnB
A'a and Pahoehoe lava

Hawaii is a series of islands composed, primarily, of lava. Lava isn’t all the same. Two main types are A’a (ah-ah) and pahoehoe (paw-hoey-hoey). There is also a third type, but you’re not likely to encounter it as it forms during submarine eruptions, this is called ‘pillow’ lava.

The dynamics of a lava flow generally dictate which type of lava forms. A’a lavas are associated with high discharge rates and steep slopes, while pahoehoe flows are associated with lower discharge rates and gentle slopes. Geology aside, pahoehoe is usually darker and a’a tends to be lighter and brownish to reddish. The reddish comes from oxidation of the iron to iron oxide.

Pahoehoe tends to be smooth. You can generally walk on it without shoes. A’a on the other hand is chunky and sharp  – think of the sound you’d make when trying to walk on it bare foot!

Two Steps Big Island Hawaii Captain Cook Horizon Guest House
Two Steps

If you snorkel at Two Steps, only minutes from Horizon Guest House and adjacent to Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park, or Place of Refuge, you’ll find yourself walking over smooth pahoehoe before entering the water.

Black sand Horizon Guest House Honaunau Captain Cook Hawaii
Black sand

When the lava is broken up into fine grains we end up with a black sand. However, when the mineral olivine is present in large enough quantities, and is packed into a sedimentary formation, natural erosion creates a green sand beach.

In the photo below is the ‘famous’ Green Sand Beach – also called Papakōlea Beach. This unique beach is located about two miles from the southern most point of the Big Island, South Point, and is approximately an hour’s drive south of Horizon Guest House.

Green Sand Beach Big Island Hawaii Horizon B&B Captain Cook
Papakōlea Beach

Papakōlea Beach is one of only four green sand beaches in the world, the other three are in Guam, Galapagos Islands and Norway.

The cliff in the background of the photo is a loose, sedimentary formation containing a relatively large amount of olivine as fine crystals. The green crystals are mixed with black (lava) and white (coral/shells) sand and, as a result, some patches of sand are greener than others.

How to get there

To get to Papakōlea Beach involves a drive and a hike (but it’s well worth the extra effort).

  1. Take the road to ‘South Point’ between mile markers 69 and 70 on Hwy 11 (between Kona and Volcano Village). Drive to the small harbor at the end. On the left hand side there is a car park.
  2. Walk from the car park to the ocean and take the road to the left (facing the water, toward the east). Follow the road with the ocean on your right for approximately 2.5 miles. At this point you will be above the beach. Next, make your way carefully along the lava cliff on the west side of the bay.

Tip: Leave early and try to make the trip on a weekday to avoid the crowds.

You can see in the next photo how green the olivine sand is. There is also a lava rock with olivine occlusions, and a bracelet made from larger olivine crystals.

Peridot Horizon BnB Hotel Captain Cook Hawaii
Olivine sand and lava

Fun fact! A type of olivine is peridot (also found in meteorites) and is a gem quality stone. Peridot is also referred to locally as ‘Hawaiian Diamond’. Found in only a fraction of the olivine deposits, it is the birthstone for the month of August – so happy birthday to all you August babies out there!

Strange but true! When lava is ejected into the air, it can form an usual solid lava that has an uncanny resemblance to petrified wood. These samples below came from the Hualalai mountain, which is the mountain you see when you land at the Kailua-Kona airport.

Solid lava Hawaii Big Island Horizon Guest House
Solid lava almost identical to petrified wood!

Click the Book Now button below for more details on how to make a reservation!

Author: Angus Meek

Top 5 must-see sights on the Big Island

Two Steps Horizon Guest House Big Island Hawaii
Two Steps [Photo credit Horizon Guest House]

1. Snorkel at Kealakekua Bay & Two Steps

Snorkel both or just one – both are fantastic. Kealakekua Bay is one of the best places to snorkel in Hawaii. An easy drive from Horizon Guest House to either hike down to the Captain Cook monument and snorkel, or make a day of it on a commercial boat such as the Fair Wind snorkel cruise.

Just arrived and want to get in the water straight away? Two Steps is only minutes from Horizon Guest House. We have snorkels and masks on hand for you to use and you’ll be swimming with yellow tangs in no time.

Easy for beginners Two Steps is so-named because of the natural rock steps used to access the water.

Place of Refuge Big Island Horizon Guest House Kona
Place of Refuge [Photo credit Horizon Guest House]

Tip: Don’t forget to visit Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park (translated as Place of Refuge) on the left side of the bay.

2. Volcanoes National Park

Less than 1.5 hours away Hawaii Volcanoes National Park contains some of the most unique geological, biological, and cultural landscapes in the world, including the summits of two of the world’s most active volcanoes – Kilauea and Mauna Loa.

Volcano Big Island Hawaii Horizon B&B
[Photo credit Horizon Guest House]

We recommend you make the visitor center your first stop on arrival to find out how active the volcanoes are and for the latest tips on the best vantage point. Whether it’s a crater rim drive and a stop at the Jagger Museum, or a serious hike on the newly re-opened (July 2019) trail in the Napau Crater area, there’s a lot to see and plenty happening at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Tip: Get there early and do the summit tour before 10am or after 3pm to avoid the crowds.

3. Mauna Kea

Mauna Kea Big lsland Hawaii Horizon Guest House Captain Cook
[Photo credit Horizon Guest House]

Go any time of day but to really experience the wonder of Mauna Kea it’s best to time your visit at dusk to enjoy the amazing sunset and then, on a clear night, the starry night sky! You’ll need to stop at the Visitor Information Station at 9,200 ft. to not only check the status of the summit but most importantly to adjust to the change in altitude – that’s right, being able to drive from sea level to the summit at 14,000 ft. in 2 hours means it’s important to acclimatize.

Make sure you allow enough time to get there – check with Clem on the timing and how to work it in to your day out – the summit opens half an hour before sunrise and closes half an hour after sunset. A stop to stargaze at the Visitor Information Station is a must – local volunteer astronomers set up telescopes outside of the station. Everyone gets the chance to use them for free.

Tip: Don’t forget your jacket! It gets cold up there, so warm clothes are a must – we have jackets on hand if you need one.

4. Waipi’o Valley

They filmed the end of the movie Waterworld here and when you visit it’ll feel like stepping into another world. Meaning curved water in Hawaiian, Waipi’o Valley is a magical place which can be enjoyed from the jaw-dropping scenic lookout or you can explore the valley on foot, or with a guided tour.

Waipi'o Valley Big Island Horizon Guest House
[Photo credit Horizon Guest House]

Hike into the valley and down to the black sand beach and back in less than seven miles. For the more adventurous try the Muliwai Trail on the other side of the valley – you’ll need to camp out for this one.

Whether it’s the wild horses, pristine waterfalls, or the wild black sand beach, it’s worth making Waipi’o Valley a stop on your Big Island itinerary.

Tip: Parking is fairly limited, so either come early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the crowd.

 

5. Hāpuna Beach

Hapuna Beach Big Island Hawaii Horizon Guest House
[Photo credit Horizon Guest House]

White sand beach, turquoise water – it’s the quintessential Hawaiian beach and it’s here on the Big Island. An easy drive from Horizon Guest House Hāpuna beach is half a mile long, often sun-drenched, and is shaded with trees and a picnic pavilion.

Tip: Arrive early to find a good park and a shaded spot on the beach.

5 ½. Circle the Big Island

So we cheated – just a tiny bit. It’s hard to squeeze the best into a top 5 and your trip to the Big Island wouldn’t be complete without a road trip around the island. Check with Clem on his itinerary recommendations and how to make it work best with your stay.

To make a booking click the Book Now button below or phone us on 808 938 7822

Author: Angus Meek