Twilight at Kalahuipua’a

When the full moon rises each month, the Mauna Lani on the Kohala Coast of the Big Island hosts an evening of storytelling, Hawaiian music and entertainment at the historic Eva Parker Woods Cottage. The event is held on the Saturday closest to when the full moon rises. For the month of September, tonight is the night.

The event is for hotel guests, hotel employees and residents of Hawaii. For visitors, this is one more reason to consider a stay at this property. If I start to sound like a broken record when I describe my love for the Mauna Lani, well, I really cannot help myself. In summary, it’s a gem.
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The Eva Parker Woods Cottage is next to the ancient fish ponds at the Manua Lani. It houses historical information about the area. Twilight is one way the Mauna Lani shares and preserves Hawaiian arts, customs and culture such as the traditional folk art of storytelling through music, tales and more. Danny Akaka, who serves as the Mauna Lani’s cultural historian, hosts the special event and shares his knowledge of the island’s heritage and history with guests.

There are many properties on all of the islands offering cultural and environmental activities. Stargazing, for example, with experts to share their knowledge. If you get the chance, they are well worth the time.

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The mai tai

It’s the one cocktail mainlanders usually think of when we dream of Hawaii—the mai tai.IMG_0237

Usually two different types of rum, pineapple juice, lime juice, orange Curacao and definitely an umbrella with a slice of island pineapple. The truth is, I’m not much of a cocktail fan at all. I much prefer a glass of wine with dinner.

When in Hawaii, however, it’s irresistible. The ocean, a light breeze, a schedule on Hawaiian time. No hurry whatsoever. Pull up a chair, order one up and stay a while. While you’re at it, watch the sunset and hope for the ever-elusive green flash.

Here’s the mai tai at the classic Don’s Mai Tai Bar in the Royal Kona Resort in Kailua-Kona. An oceanfront, open-air spot in Kailua Bay offering up Don’s Original Mai Tai and other Hawaiian cocktail options.

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It’s five o’clock somewhere, right?

Wanted: trade winds and a cool breeze

Make your own bouquet of tropical flowers

Make your own bouquet of tropical flowers

Always a great selection of island fruits and vegetables

Always a great selection of island fruits and vegetables

Colorful flowers always seem to be plentiful in Kona

Colorful flowers always seem to be plentiful in Kona

In the Midwest, land of temperature extremes, we are dealing with record-breaking heat and humidity this week. Yesterday, the relative humidity hit 79 percent, which we were told made the temperature outside feel like 108 to 111 degrees. As the saying goes: It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.

This dry and hot late August weather wreaks havoc on the flowers, trees, vegetable gardens and lawns unless they are watered regularly. Although it’s steamy hot, we desperately need rain. Most of the blooming flowers look exhausted and ready to be replaced with mums or other autumn plants and flowers once the heat subsides.

Yes, we have color everywhere and the farmers’ markets in our region are bursting with vegetables, herbs and plenty from the harvest season. It’s here, and then—poof. It’s gone. So, we enjoy it.

Hawaii residents and visitors are so fortunate to experience color, flowers, nearly perfect weather year-round.  I’ll take the high temperatures any day over the cold and snow of January, February, March and sometimes even April. (Yes, it sometimes snows in April, the cruelest month.) One weather newscaster told us yesterday that the temperature was 140 degrees warmer than our coldest day last winter. Yet, today I dream of the next visit to Hawaii. This time it’s to cool off from the heat.

Kona Farmers Market

Kona Farmers Market

Dining al fresco, Hawaiian style

IMG_1022It doesn’t get much better than outdoor dining in Hawaii, especially when you know it’s snowing at home. Or, anytime really. This was a special anniversary meal at Hualalai on the Big Island. As close to dining on the beach as you ever will find with the perfect view of the sunset. Somehow, a great meal turns unforgettable with the sound of waves and a beachside setting. Aloha.

Kona coffee is the real deal

For most coffee lovers, a cup of 100 percent Kona coffee will be love at first sip. The smell of Kona coffee brewing is enough to get you hooked.
 
Kona coffee is the official name for coffee grown in the North and South Kona districts on the Big Island. The weather in this region is apparently ideal for growing the coffee, with the volcanic soil and sunny days with a mix of light clouds in the afternoon. Other islands grow and produce coffee, but the Big Island is the home of pure Kona coffee.
 
A fun way to spend an afternoon is to go coffee tasting, sort of like wine tasting in Napa or Sonoma except you don’t need a designated driver. On our first trip to the Big Island, we discovered Greenwell Farms. We have since been back to visit and our tour guide was once from our home state. We were hooked and have been members of the Greenwell Farms coffee club since—sort of like a wine club, except you don’t need to worry about your shipment freezing in our frigid winters.
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We get a quarterly shipment of chocolate macadamia nut coffee. In the middle of January, it’s heaven in a cup.
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There are many wonderful coffee farms to visit. Many of them are located on the Mamalahoa Highway 11, south of Kona and hear the Holualoa area. Many of the farms will offer tours, which are well worth the time, often provide a scenic view of the ocean in the distance, and will make you want to sit and sip and stay a while.

Sunday brunch, Hawaiian style

In March 2012, we biked for 10 miles plus so that we could enjoy the delicious breakfast and brunch at the Bay Terrace at the Mauna Lani Hotel on the Big Island. With its outdoor tables overlooking the gorgeous grounds, pool and ocean, you can’t go wrong. We get the sense that many of the waiters and waitresses have worked at the Mauna Lani for years. Since this is the type of place that people seem to return to year after year, it wouldn’t surprise me if they eventually learned your name and waited for your return.

IMG_4714 2IMG_4715We enjoyed the Hawaiian-inspired eggs benedict and coconut French toast with bananas. So tropical and so delicious. Paired with a freshly brewed cup of Kona coffee, it’s perfect for a Sunday brunch. Or Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday or Saturday. Good morning, paradise.