Big Island Bounty Tour
After more than six years with our nose to the tropical grindstone, Dan and I were graced with travel for fun! But it’s hard for me to separate work and play, so I’m starting Special Edition blog posts. Every Saturday, I’ll let you know about our exploits on Neighbor Islands, starting with seven posts from Hawaii Island.
When we first moved to Hawaii, I subscribed to Edible Hawaiian Islands so I could learn about the people who grow and cook fresh food from scratch using local ingredients. I combed through six years of back issues to plan our Big Island trip and I also referred to their Farm Guide. These resources proved to be invaluable and I’m so grateful that I saved all of those issues! You can download a free PDF of the Farm Guide.
We are here for five days celebrating Valentine’s Day and my 50th birthday, which is on Feb. 16. As we drive north from Kona International Airport, toward the Kohala Coast, the scorched earth roils with mounds of hard lava. Big Island is an appropriate nickname because this island is immense, spanning 4,028 square miles. The islands of Kauai, Maui, Lanai, Molokai and Oahu can fit inside, with room to spare. We don’t want to spend a lot of time driving, so we choose to enjoy our entire vacation exploring the northern end, which is near our hotel.
Puffs of gold grass dot lava fields with rusty jagged edges, or smooth, river-like flows. These two types of lava range in color from black to red, depending on the mineral content. A’a is the Hawaiian word for lava that flows fast and looks like upturned soil when it’s dry. Smooth lava, with bubbles, swirls and cracks, is slow flowing and known as pahoehoe.
Hawaii Island’s fertile soil embraces all types of vegetation because there are 11 of the 13 climate zones, which allows farmers to grow diverse crops. What doesn’t grow well on Kauai, such as tomatoes, melons, strawberries and squash, grows abundantly on Hawaii Island. We explored Waimea, Hawi, Waipio Valley, Honokaa, Hamakua, the Kohala Coast and Kailua-Kona.
At Village Burger, Dan enjoys a Hawaii Big Island Beef Burger made with local lettuce, tomatoes and grass-fed beef. I eat a Mushroom Burger made with Hamakua alii, shiitake and button mushrooms and wash it down with a Big Island Cozmic Coconut Chai kombucha. Dan slurps a chocolate milkshake made with locally-made ice cream and we split an order of truffle fries tossed in Parmesan goop.
Under the Bhodi Tree serves salads made with super crisp baby lettuce and scrumptious tomatoes. Daylight Mind Coffee Company serves up scratch-made meals with an ocean view; we devour creme brûlée and maple bacon donuts at Holy Donuts in Kailua-Kona and drink 100 percent Kona coffee at Kona Coffee & Tea Company.
Upcoming blog posts will include our accommodations at the gorgeous Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel; dinner at Coast Grill; lunch at Copper Bar; craft beer at Big Island Brewhaus; the Kohala Grown Farm Tour and delicious farm-to-table offerings by chef Noah Hester of Blue Dragon restaurant.
I’m in love with Hawaii Island. The simple and sometimes stark beauty combined with their kind of aloha is special. Aloha can mean many things, but when I write about it here, I mean a patient kindness with touches of mirth. The people we met during our stay were present, charming and laughed easily. I hope you come along on our Big Island Bounty tour and meet some of the people and farmers who make the north shore so special.
All images copyright Daniel Lane/Pono Photo. For more information, visit www.PonoPhoto.com.