Integrating solar hot water on the Big Island

Solar hot water Horizon Guest House Big Island Hawaii

The Big Island is known for sun, surf and adventure. Here on the Kona Coast we have an abundance of sunny days that make it the perfect location to install solar panels. Horizon B&B has integrated solar hot water to help reduce the cost of heating water by electricity. This system is simple to implement and low-maintenance.

Domestic solar hot water supply

The Horizon Guest House domestic hot water supply is supplemented by a separate solar system. First installed over twenty-five years ago, the solar panels are all located in positions to best maximize the power of the sun.

There are two solar panels located next to the vegetable garden. Water is pumped from the house to the solar panels whenever the sensors on the panels detect that the temperature of the panels is greater than the temperature of the hot water heater in the house. When this occurs the pump system is activated. The water is circulated out to the panels, heated, and then sent back to the house.

Delta-T thermostat on the hot water heater

Swimming pool solar hot water

The solar system is also used to heat the swimming pool water. A larger bank of panels is located on the hillside below the pool. On sunny days, the sun heats a sensor near the pool. This sensor compares the temperature of the water in the pool with that of the temperature of the panels. When there’s enough temperature difference between the two, a valve opens and water is sent to the solar panels to heat the pool. When the sun goes away, the sensor cools and it automatically shuts the valve.

Solar hot water Horizon

Guest wing solar hot water supply

There is a separate bank of solar panels to heat the domestic water supply for the guest wing. These panels are located on the hillside below guest room number 4. When the sensor heats to a certain level, the water is circulated to the panels.  

The sensor on all three banks of solar panels will activate the circulation of water when the temperature difference reaches 15 degrees. For example, if the temperature in the hot water heater is 127 degrees then the temperature in the solar panels needs to reach 142 degrees before the valve will open and the water is sent out. We have set the hot water heater to switch to electric only when it goes below 110 degrees. As a safety precaution the temperature shut-off is 160 degrees. This is to avoid sending water that would simply be too hot back to the water heater. The water sent to the water heater remains at temperature for 2-3 days due to the water heater being well-insulated.

Solar hot water helps heat our outside shower

The solar hot water system has been a great way to utilize the power of the sun to help heat the water needed to run the bed and breakfast. These systems are relatively easy to install and the differential temperature thermostat is key to integrating solar panels with a standard electric hot water heater.

Further reading:

In 2010 it was mandated that solar water heaters be complusory on all new single-family homes constructed in Hawaii.

https://www.cleanenergyauthority.com/solar-energy-news/solar-hot-water-heaters-mandatory-in-hawaii

 

 

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It’s a lockdown life: dispatches from the Big Island

ATV Horizon Kona Hawaii

It’s early spring and like much of the rest of the world we’re adjusting to life in lockdown. Tourists have all but fled and the residents are hunkering down as we all do our best on the Big Island to flatten the curve. Like the rest of you we’ve been grappling with the new normal here at Horizon, so we decided to turn our blog microscope to life behind the scenes at HGH.

On March 25 everyone in Hawaii was required to stay at home or in their place of residence. The next day the state of Hawaii mandated a quarantine period of 14 days for all visitors to the island. Cancellations came thick and fast. But while we might not have any guests due to the lockdown it doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of chores and projects to work on.

Coffee Clem HGH
The day always starts better with coffee!

Then on April 1, all persons traveling between any of the islands in the state of Hawaii became subject to mandatory self-quarantine.

Arrived just in time...

Meanwhile, thousands of miles to the south in New Zealand, Clem’s partner Angus was trying to get to Hawaii having just had his immigrant visa approved. After many flight changes, and frantic packing, Angus caught one of the last flights out of New Zealand before the government announced the country was going into lockdown.

Almost exactly four years after they first met, and after time spent in both countries, Angus arrived in Hawaii as a newly-minted permanent resident. 

Finally! It was time to get on with their lives together. Unfortunately, Angus arrived just before the lockdown was enforced. After careful deliberation it was decided it was sensible to quarantine, just to be on the safe side (luckily he was fine).

Clem & Angus
Angus and Clem, New Zealand, 2019

With contact not allowed (not even a hug!) and social distance mandated at all times, Clem whisked Angus back to Horizon and into 14 day quarantine.

Alone together was the new normal. At least for the following two weeks! But spring was in the air, the weather was good, and it was perfect timing for some landscape gardening. 

Around the house

Before After

First up, landscaping and weeding around the guest rooms. Garden maintenance is always done on a regular basis but with more time it was a great opportunity to tackle the bigger jobs.

Datura HGH Big Island Hawaii

Angus works on cutting back the overgrown datura to the level of the rock wall in front of the guest rooms. Hedges between the guest rooms are trimmed and sculpted. 

Datura Big Island Hawaii

After mowing the lawns it’s time to rake up the clippings.

Pro tip: use grass clippings to cover any sections of your lawn that are struggling.

Grass clippings are good for your lawn because they act like a natural fertilizer since they contain water and nutrients (like nitrogen) – all the good things to keep your lawn in a healthy state. Left on the lawn the clippings decompose and release water and nutrients back into the soil.

Pond Life

Pond Horizon Guest House B&B Hawaii HGH

Overgrown weeds cleared, and ferns cut back. The garden around the pond is weeded and the red anthuirums once again emerge, taking pride of place! 

Garden Hawaii Big Island Horizon HGH

Pineapples and lizards

Next, the pineapple grove. A good crop of pineapples has grown well in this part of the garden and with a harvest not to far away it was time to clear the dead branches from the papaya tree and get to pulling weeds.

Joining the gardening team was this little lizard. At first suspicious, it soon appeared to like hanging out with (and on) Clem! 

A visit to the upper pastures...

Sunny Horizon Guest House
Poncho and Sunny

Poncho & Lefty (the donkeys) and Sunny (the horse) were curious onlookers to all of this activity. A midday break for lunch and a visit with the gang was in order.

Next on the agenda, a change of pace – down the driveway to the warehouse.

Cleaning up around the warehouse

Rubbish run Horizon Guest House Hawaii B&B

Everyone accumulates clutter and Horizon is no different. The warehouse, on the lower slopes of the property, was in need of a spring clean and then a run to the refuse station down the highway for a rubbish drop off.

Recycling was also sorted. Cans, bottles and cardboard were put aside for a separate trip to the recycling plant in Kona.

Rubbish cleared. Check. Progress made. Check. Staying hydrated in the heat? Check.

Mowing and more mowing...

Rideon mower Horizon Guest House Hawaii HGH

Staying on top of all the mowing that needs to be done on the property is almost a full-time job. However, it’s made significantly easier by the use of both a ride-on mower and a tractor with a mower attachment – to tackle the rocky pastures that need to be cleared.

Fun fact: Wild Pigs. Normally cute, especially the piglets, wild pigs can cause havoc on the property. Whether rooting about in the garden devastating crops of bananas or pineapples – or anything remotely edible – pigs are tough to keep out (finding ingenious ways to dig under the boundary fences to get in). By keeping the pastures clear of long grass it makes it easier to hunt the pigs and protect the Horizon crops from being plundered.

Tractor closeup Horizon Guest House Hawaii B&B
Clem about to mow on the lower pastures

Whether with guests or without, a day at Horizon wouldn’t be complete without another sunset. Tools down, gloves off, and dinner watching the sun disappear over the Pacific Ocean on the Kona Coast. A pretty good reward for a day’s work keeping Horizon Guest House in shape. Look out for details on our spring planting in the vegetable and herb gardens in the next lockdown dispatch.

Sunset Horizon Guest House Kona Hawaii HGH
How have you been spending the lockdown? In the garden? Spring cleaning the house? Keeping busy with arts and crafts? Baking? Let us know what you’ve been up to in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you.

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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

Custom cycle tours on the Big Island of Hawaii

Cycle tour Big Island Hawaii Horizon B&B

Have you ever wanted to cycle the Big Island at your own pace? Ever wondered what it would be like to do a cycle tour without having to worry about your luggage? With a customized cycle tour you can do all of this as well as making Horizon Guest House a destination on your itinerary.

2 Cycle tour Arrival Horizon Guest House Hawaii

Lifecycle Adventures offers customized bicycle tours on the Big Island of Hawaii. They take care of all the logistics, transporting your luggage to your destination while you enjoy the day’s cycle route. A support van is always close by if you need anything.

Cycle tour arrival Horizon Guest House Hawaii
Bruno, Lifecycle Adventures host

Lifecycle are operated by locals who live and cycle on the island. Bruno will take care of all your cycling needs, and help plan the best cycle itinerary to meet your ability.

Cycle tour arrival luggage Horizon Guest House Hawaii

Enjoy the cycle ride and relax in the knowledge that your luggage will arrive safely at your destination.

Janet Michael Nancy David
Janet, Michael, Nancy and David

Our most recent Lifecycle Adventurers. Their itinerary included a route down the Kona Coast from Waikaloa.

Dinner with a view

Cycle tour dinner prep Horizon Guest House

After a day out on the bicycle what could be better than grilling out by the pool. If you’d rather not eat out, Horizon Guest House has everything you need to make dinner. This option is perfect if you’ve spent the day cycling to Horizon and would rather sit back with a glass of wine.

Cycle tour dinner Horizon Guest House

On tour

Cycle tour cycle day Horizon Guest House
Returning to Horizon

This touring group stayed two nights and cycled down to Two Steps on day two. Cycling the Big Island is all about the variation in both climate and landscapes. Whether it’s the white sand beaches north of Kona, the coffee country and sweeping vistas of South Kona, or the mint-green hill country around Waimea, a cycle tour is a great way to see the island.

Photo credit: David Goldbloom

Spend the day out on the bicycle and return to Horizon to soak in the views from your guest room lanai.

Cycle tour animals Horizon B&B Kona
David feeding Poncho

Make sure you leave time on your cycle tour to visit with the Horizon farm animals. Clem always has snacks on hand for Poncho and Lefty (the donkeys), and Sunny (the horse).

Cycle tour animals B&B Horizon Kona
Michael and David admiring Sunny

Cycling tours are available year round, starting or ending in either Waikoloa or Kona. Tour length is typically between 3 to 10 days. There are two types of tours – self-guided or guided.

On a self-guided tour the local guide will organize your transfers, luggage delivery, and will also be on call for any help in the event of flat tires or mechanical problems.

On a guided tour the local guide will explore a destination with you and a support vehicle will be available at all times.

Cycle tour animals Horizon B&B Kona
Sunny loves to be feed and brushed.
Cycle tour Horizon B&B Kona
Photo credit: David Goldbloom

Day two

Cycle tour dinner Horizon Guest House Kona
Nancy and Janet

The tour group preparing dinner and enjoying another amazing Kona Coast sunset.

20 Cycle tour Nancy and Michael Horizon GH
Nancy and Michael

Photo credit: David Goldbloom

Dinner by candlelight...

Cycle tour final photo Horizon B&B
Photo credit: David Goldbloom

Enjoy the best of the Big Island at a slower pace with a custom cycle tour on the Kona Coast. 

For more information about Lifecycle Adventures https://www.lifecycleadventures.com/hawaii-bike-tours/ 

For more information on cycling on the Big Island check out our blog post https://horizonguesthouse.com/2019/10/12/the-horizon-bicycle-diaries/ 

Special thanks to Bruno at Lifecycle Adventures, and to David for supplying some amazing photos.

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

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

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
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

Geckos and Gecko Art at Horizon

Gecko Horizon Guest House BnB Hawaii
Gold Dust Gecko in the garden at Horizon Guest House [Photo credit Horizon Guest House]

Even though it was introduced from further afield, the gecko is now emblematic of Hawaii, and you can’t go far on the Big Island without finding them in the natural landscape, printed on t-shirts, made into stickers, or – as you’ll see in this post – as works of art on the walls of the Horizon B&B.

There are eight species of gecko in Hawaii:

  1. Mourning gecko
  2. Stump-toed gecko
  3. Fox gecko
  4. Common house gecko
  5. Tokay gecko
  6. Orange-spotted day gecko
  7. Giant day gecko
  8. Gold dust day gecko

Only the last three – orange-spotted, giant and gold dust geckos are active in the daytime. The gold dust gecko is one of the prettiest and so-named for the coloriation of its body. Their bodies are usually green, or a yellowy green, with yellow speckles.

Gold dust geckos can grow up to 9 inches long. They eat plants, insects and sometimes even other geckos! (And they love a sugar snack too). This species of gecko is the one you will most likely see during your stay at Horizon Guest House on the Kona Coast. Don’t worry, they are completely harmless!

Gold Dust Gecko having a snack at The Coffee Shack on the Kona Coast

Did you know? Geckos don’t have eyelids. Their eyes have a transparent membrane and they clean it with their tongue! Geckos are also able to vocalize, unlike other lizards, making a kind of chirping, clicking sound. The noises geckos make might be to scare off other geckos who have invaded their territory, as a means to avoid fighting, or to attract another gecko in order to mate. They can also jump a fair distance too when chasing their insect prey.

Contrary to popular opinion geckos don’t have tiny toe pads with suction cups. In fact, their toes are covered in hundreds of tiny microscopic hairs called setae. Each of these setae have hundreds of smaller bristles called spatulae. These tiny hairs get close enough to the contours of walls, ceilings and other surfaces that it causes what’s known as the van der Waals force to occur.

Fun fact! The van der Waals force is a physical bond that occurs when electrons from the gecko hair molecules and electrons from the surface of the wall, or ceiling, interact with each other creating an electromagnetic attraction. This allows the gecko to navigate smooth surfaces like glass, as well as walls and ceilings, with ease.

Sometimes you might see a gecko without a tail – as you can imagine this isn’t so good for the gecko. To regrow the tail involves a process that is taxing on the lizard, sapping them of energy. To make matters worse the tail itself is actually a place where essential nutrients and fat are stored for periods when food is difficult to find. If you see a gecko with a thick tail it’s a good indication of the geckos health, hence a thin tail could indicate poor health, or a lack of access to nutrient-rich food.

How did they get to Hawaii? We know the gecko was introduced and can probably assume that they made it across the vast distances in the Pacific by stowing away aboard Polynesian canoes.

Gold Dust Gecko with Clem at Kona Coffee and Tea in Kailua-Kona

Geckos have a varied life span depending on the species but the average expected life span is approximately five years. If you manage to keep one as a pet they can live longer – they have been known to live for almost 20 years in captivity. We don’t keep them as pets here at Horizon Guest House, but you’ll be sure to see them in the garden or out on the lanai, and the occasional one that makes its way indoors. Don’t worry, all rooms have insect screens and doors to keep them, and other insects, out.

Hawaiian mythology

The mo’o are mentioned in Hawaiian mythology as a kind of dragon – their bodies forming a part of the landscape. Seen as the guardians of water, and also the family, they serve to warn or protect a person from an approaching danger. Over time the geckos have become a kind of manifestation of the mythological mo’o. Making the gecko a small but well-respected creature in Hawaiian culture. 

Gecko Art at Horizon

Over the years we’ve collected a lot of gecko-related art. These are currently displayed out on the main lanai of the house. Check out the photos below.

Author: Angus Meek