Kona Coffee at Greenwell Farm, Kealakekua, HI 1/8/18

Greenwell Farms offers free walking tours of their historic coffee farm, founded in 1850.

IMG_1149While you wait for your tour to begin, you can sample half a dozen different varieties of coffee, and shop to take some home, of course.  The grounds are lovely, with  lush garden and trees:




We saw just a tiny corner of the farm, starting with coffee trees:



coffee flowers

The coffee beans are spread out and dried in the sun, raked and turned:

The coffee beans are the seeds way deep inside the fruit, the coffee “cherry,” which has to be processed to removed the gel-like fruit – which is not sweet like cherry-pie cherries.


coffee beans


coffee flower

The trees don’t get very tall because they’re pruned every 3 years. branches from other trees are grafted onto the pruned ones:


Here’s a coffee cherry on the tree:


Other plants growing in this rich Kona soil:




more bananas

and huge avocados:

Greenwell Farms is well worth the detour for the short, informative tour.


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Pu’uhonua O Honaunau Nat’l Park – 1/8/18

About 30 minutes south of Kona is Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Park –  the City of Refuge.


The visitor center has a wall of images with audio history of the site and the people of the area:


Beautiful site along the ocean, with strange noni trees:


The grounds were home to several generations of powerful chiefs. Typical structure, where traditional boats were carved:


or gods:IMG_1133

This is a traditional stone game-board table and treetrunk chairs:IMG_1132IMG_1134From Wiki: The historical park preserves the site where, up until the early 19th century, Hawaiians who broke a kapu (one of the ancient laws) could avoid certain death by fleeing to this place of refuge or puʻuhonua. The offender would be absolved by a priest and freed to leave. Defeated warriors and non-combatants could also find refuge here during times of battle. Here are photos of the massive 965 foot long masonry Great Wall  around the refuge area:

The Hale-o-Keawe heiau (temple) served as the royal mausoleum and held the remains of 23 chiefs, imparting great spiritual power to the site, until the Hawaiian religion was banned around 1830. The peaked structure above is a recreation of the heiau. The site contains a variety of ki’i, carved tiki statues in humanoid form symbolizing deified ancestors.


There’s a trail along the royal fish ponds and the site of the royal home – it was kapu for commoners to enter the royal areas.


The lava flats, and one side of the Great Wall:


and a great crashing ocean view:IMG_1144IMG_1145

The ancient bones from the temple were moved to the national mausoleum in Honolulu.

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Punalu’u Black Sands Beach, HI – 1/8/18

Day trip to Punalu’u Black Sands Beach, while 1/3 of the group did the more strenuous hike to one of only 4 green sand beaches in the world.

Wind turbines and not-so-wild life on the road to drop-off for the green sand beach:

Then we were off to Punalu’u, where the black sand is made of crushed basalt from past volcanic floes:

Punalu’u is a frequent resting spot for Honu – the endangered green sea turtles – which like to swim in the coves, or bask on the shore:

The sand is really black, and very hot and uncomfortable barefoot – wear sandals/water shoes! plus plenty of rocks for cairns/buddah beach:

Honu!!! One of them was flapping his flippers – not sure if he was trying to move closer to the water, or to cover his back with black sand:

At the back of the beach is a lovely pond:

more beach and turtles:


Time to head back to pick up the weary hikers from the green sand beach, passing typical (but not to New England) lava stone walls:


Nearby, is South Point Park, the southernmost part of the Big Island, and the United States. There are a few monuments/memorials:


And trails, but couldn’t quite get to the southern point – cliffs, waves, sore feet:


A burial site:

And the other side of one of the memorials:

IMG_1117Just past this “no diving” sign, is a well-known cliff-diving spot – it’s even marked on googlemaps!


There’s also this strange hole/cave in the cliff, where you can hear/see the waves pouring in:


Back to Kona for sunset:



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Akaka Falls, HI – 1/5/18

Akaka Falls State Park is just 11 miles north of Hilo, featuring a .4 mile trail through tropical rainforest with views of 2 waterfalls.

The trail winds through lush vegetation, and includes stairs down to 100′ tall Kahuna Falls:

Kahuna Falls, from a not-great angle:

Continuing on the trail after Kahuna, you pass through banyan forest – or is it just 1 tree?

Akaka Falls – hard to get all 442′ in the photo:

Continuing on the trail, we find more little rivulets:

And back up at the parking lot, an orange (tangerine?) tree:

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Onomea Trail, Big Island, HI 1/5/18

The Onomea Trail was an unexpected delight. It’s just off the Old Mamalohoa Highway, about 10 minutes north of Hilo.

It’s a steep, but not difficult, trail down to Onomea Bay, with gorgeous plants and views along the way.

wild Bird of Paradise flowers


fuzzy piggy-back ride

At the bottom of the trail, you reach the Bay:

We found a broken-open coconut, fallen from one of the palm trees on the shore:

Best snack ever – ocean-salty coconut!

This rocky promontory provided more views:

with tide pools:

Back to the trail which crosses through the middle of the Botanical Gardens. We met the Garden’s security guard, a retiree who sits on a beach chair, reading and listening to music, where the Onomea Trail crosses one of the Garden trails. He seemed eager to chat, and  guided us to some of the plants inside the fenced off Garden that we could see along our trail.:

Past the friendly guard, the trail takes you down some stairs to the spot where the Onomea Stream reaches the ocean:

And views of the Twin Rocks formation:

We were there at low tide, so the point where the river meets the sea was somewhat obscured by the rocky sandbar, but what a beautiful spot.

Family photos!


Final view as we climbed back up the trail to the car:

I’m sure the Botanic Garden is wonderful, but this spot is natural and free!

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Rainbow Falls, Hilo, HI

Rainbow Falls is in a state park in Hilo, with viewing platforms of the 80′ tall falls. The falls get their name from the fact that, on sunny mornings around 10AM, rainbows can be seen in the mist thrown up by the waterfall.

You can climb stone stairs up to a view near/above the top of the falls….


… then hike into the lush woods along the river…

… with banyan trees! Perfect for climbing…


A gecko:


walking along the river above the falls:




Views from another platform:


Between the gorgeous falls, the fun banyan trees and scrambling above the falls, and the easy 5 minute drive from downtown Hilo, Rainbow Falls is a must-see.

And here’s a shop and snack from Hilo:

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Hilo, HI – Liliuokalani Gardens

After a day/evening at Volcanoes National Park, we spent the night in Hilo. This is the view from our Hilo Reeds Bay hotel:


And banyan trees in front, along Banyan Drive:


Also on Banyan Drive is Queen Liliuokalani Gardens, a 24acre park/Japanese garden. In 1907, Queen Liliuokalani, Hawaii’s last reigning monarch, donated the original 5 acres bordering Hilo Bay for a public park. It was dedicated in 1917 as a tribute to Hawaii’s first Japanese immigrants who worked in the sugar cane fields. FYI – she was the last reigning monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii, thanks to the coup organized by American business interests including Sanford Dole (cousin to the Dole Pineapple Company). Cool fact, she wrote the Hawaiian ballad Aloha Oe in 1878, recorded by Bing Crosby, Elvis, Johnny Cash, Spongebob, etc.

The Gardens are beautiful, with bridges, walkways over water, stone urns, and views across the bay to snowcapped Mauna Kea.


Mauna Kea rises above Hilo Bay



High water flooded out some of the walkways


Mauna Kea, above the gate



Stone pagoda





lots of cats hiding in the gardens


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