Nestled along the pristine Kohala Coast on the Island of Hawaii, the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel is a wonderful choice for those looking to mix the luxury that Kona is known for with Hawaiian history, adventure, and delicious delights. Of course, you could always do what we did for part of the trip, and just lounge at the pool and relax at the Mauna Lani Spa.
For Hawaiians in old Hawaii, Pu’uhonua O Honaunau was considered to be a place of refuge. It was where you went, or attempted to go to, if you committed an act that went against the kapu system (the ancient Hawaiian code of conduct). In modern Hawaii, residents often complain about the $250 fine when caught using mobile devices in their vehicles. In old Hawaii, however, entering an area reserved for chiefs, or eating forbidden foods, would cost you your life. The stakes were much higher back then. But, there was a way out. If you could somehow Jason Bourne your way into a puuhonua, or place of refuge, your life would be spared.
If you could visit just one of Chef Peter Merriman’s restaurants, it should be his flagship Waimea location. Merriman’s Waimea has been praised by Honolulu Magazine as the “Best Big Island Restaurant” for 15 consecutive years. 15 years. Insane. And yes, the food is indeed delicious. Chef Merriman defined what became known as Hawaii Regional Cuisine, along with other notable chefs, including Alan Wong, Roy Yamaguchi, and George Mavrothalassitis.
When in Kona, you drink coffee. You drink a lot of coffee. That’s what you do. Below you’ll find five coffee shop stops that we made during a recent trip to Kona. Do note that the locations chosen below were selected based on location and convenience. This is by no means a Top 5 list of any kind.
Hulihee Palace, not to be confused with delicious hulihuli chicken, is the former palace of John Adams Kuakini, the second Governor of the Island of Hawaii. The palace, which was completed in 1838, was built “by foreign seamen, of native lava rock, coral lime mortar, koa and `ohi`a timbers.” Later, it would serve as a popular vacation home for visiting royalty. Although not as opulent as Iolani Palace on Oahu, Hulihee Palace is still very rich in history.
Ahuena Heiau sits in Kamakahonu Bay in the historic Kailua Village on the Big Island. Michelle and I recently had the chance to visit this temple that served Kamehameha the Great when he returned to the Big Island in 1812. According to the official Ahuena Heiau website, three significant events occurred here. First, in 1910, Native Hawaiian’s mourned the loss of their King, as Kamehameha The Great died inside of the heiau. Second, it was here that Liholiho (Kamehameha II) broke the ancient kapu system (taboos that provided the framework for traditional Hawaiian government). Third, the first Christian missionaries traveled from New England and came ashore here in 1820.
During our first night on the Big Island, while dining at Hawaii Calls at the Waikoloa Beach Marriot & Spa, I got a text from my hiking buddy Baron Yamamoto. It turns out that Baron not only enjoys waterfall hunting and ridge hiking, but he also loves searching for ancient Hawaiian petroglyphs. He told me that, since I was in Kona, I should check out some of the petroglyph fields in the area. I did my research and found that I was about a 15 minute drive away from one of the largest collections of petroglyphs in Hawaii. We decided to check out the petroglyphs the day after summiting Mauna Kea. I was stoked.
Doug Urquhart of Atlanta, Georgia, based The upThink Lab recently put together an excellent collection of timelapse videos taken during a recent wedding anniversary trip to the Big Island and Maui. The video features images from Kilauea and Mauna Kea in Hawaii and Haleakala in Maui.