One our last day on the Big Island we took a trip to the village of Holuakoa to visit Sunshower Farms, a sustainable coffee farm owned by Chicago-transplants Kate and Doug. The drive to the farm was peaceful and ended on winding farm roads up to their property, where they also host weddings and events.
After getting a tour of the property and listening to Doug explain the whole process of coffee berry to cup we had a chance to go through a cupping specialty tasting (we felt like professionals!) on their lanai. The views from there are great since the farm is on an elevation of 2,400 feet. During the cupping process we experienced five types of coffee focusing on their aromas and tastes. We ended up picking the Dusk and Midnight roasts to ship home. They offered free shipping so we didn’t have to find room in our luggage for the journey home. Once we were back in New Hampshire it was a nice reminder of our trip to get our beans in the mail!
One of the best tips we learned during our visit was to pay close attention to the roasted by date on our coffee beans. Kate recommended that anything over two months is likely past its prime…some coffee roasters don’t even include a roast date at all since many people don’t pay attention to that when they’re buying beans (or K-Cups). Once we got back from Hawaii we started checking for freshness and this carried over to checking our craft beer purchases as well!
The small town of Holuakoa is charming and worth a stop in itself. There were plenty of little shops and art galleries to peruse after our coffee tasting. We ended up stopping for a quick bite at Holuakoa Gardens and Cafe for some pastries and coffee (yes, more) before heading back up to our home base of Waikoloa Village. The cafe staff were friendly and the shop was filled with wares from local artisans.
Sunshower Farms is worth a stop if you’re in the Kona area – it’s less than a 15 minute drive from many of the popular sites nearby. The hospitality, coffee and cute goats were great!
When planning my honeymoon to Hawaii I knew seeing lava flows in person would be a once in a lifetime experience I had to have. In my research I came across Lava Ocean Tours based in Hilo who offers boat tours off the coast of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to see lava flowing into the ocean from Kilauea volcano. Initially I had sticker shock, but in the end it was entirely worth the cost.
Although there were plenty of warnings leading up to the trip, I did not truly believe I would get that wet. Boy did I regret not bringing an extra set of clothes! The waters were pretty rough heading out to see the lava and Captain Shane warned us of big swells ahead. Fast forward ten minutes and huge waves were coming into the boat and we were soaked from head to toe. I tucked my camera in my rain jacket and prayed that when we got to the lava that it would still turn on. Spoiler alert: it did! If you’re planning to enjoy a lava boat tour, I’d recommend packing a spare change of clothes and a dry bag!
As we approached I smelled the lava before I saw it (maybe because I was still wiping water out of my eyes?), but when I did see it my jaw dropped to the floor of the boat. The crew made sure that everyone on board had a great view of the lava flows and they rotated the boat around a few times to get different perspectives. Witnessing nature’s ultimate hot tub was amazing as lava poured into the Pacific.
Captain Shane made sure to share the history of Pele, goddess of fire, while we enjoyed viewing the lava. As she swallows up the earth with her force she is also creating new land and redefining the Hawaiian coastline. Almost a year after we visited the Big Island, Kilauea erupted leading to entire towns being destroyed by Pele’s unpredictable power. This eruption lasted four months and recovery work to rebuild everything from roads to broken communities is still underway. Watching the new from afar made me appreciate both the chance to witness Pele and our safety on the boat tour. Our time was about more than just seeing lava, the power of nature is truly incredible and cannot be underestimated.