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

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

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

To make a reservation click the book now button below!

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

Wild Birds of Horizon: Part I

Kalij pheasant Horizon BnB Kona Big Island
Kalij pheasants

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

Kalij pheasant

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

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

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

Cardinal Horizon BnB Kona Big Island
A friendly Red Cardinal

Red Cardinal

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

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

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

Zebra finch

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

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

Turkey Horizon BnB Kona Big Island
Turkeys in the garden

Turkey

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

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

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

Saffron Finch Horizon Guest House
Bird in the hand!

Saffron finch

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

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

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

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

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

Author: Angus Meek