Holualoa Hideaway

A bed and breakfast with Big Island style

By: Bill Harby

Only a few minutes after my friend and I arrived at the Holualoa Inn, I realized we had made a terrible mistake. Standing there in the main sitting room, I stared down at my pale toes against the luminous, reddish-brown eucalyptus floor. I raised my eyes to meet the gaze of the immense Buddha levitating against one wall. His demeanor of sublime acceptance of all things was the exact opposite of my rising distress.

Our mistake, of course, was in booking only one night at this bed and breakfast; a place where I had determined in the last 10 seconds that I wanted to spend the rest of my life.

Here we were right in the heart of fabled Kona coffee country on the island of Hawaii. Through the floor-to-ceiling sliding doors, I looked past the backyard pool, past the catwalk that led to the raised green-patina copper-roofed gazebo, past the glistening green coffee trees with their ripe red fruit and down the slopes of Mauna Loa volcano to the gauzy blue ocean.

We hadn’t even seen our suite yet, but everything around us, such as the pebbled floor of the guest kitchen, the figs and avocados hanging on heavy branches, the Asian accented art, the coconut palm wood furnishings, the outdoor pool shower supplied with awapuhi ginger blossoms to shampoo with all of it, told me that we’d goofed big time.

Then we saw the Balinese Suite, where we would be staying, and we dropped both our bags and our jaws. The corner sitting room had big windows on two sides, offering a panoramic view of the coast. The suite’s cedar walls are tinted in a pale green wash. (The Oriental Room down the hall is washed in red.) The bed’s headboard is a Balinese carving, and more Indonesian art pieces masks, woven hats, prints adorn the walls. Sliding screen doors by the bed open out to a garden bordered by coffee trees.

Strolling from our suite past the inn’s five other rooms, we found the “concierge book” in the main sitting room. Among other things it has menus and drive times for local restaurants. We followed our hosts’ recommendation and ordered take-out from the Keei Cafe. After a 20-minute drive through the lush, winding communities of Kona coffee country, we returned with our Styrofoam-encased gourmet feast (roasted pork chops with peppercorn gravy), and laid it out in the gazebo. It was like having dinner in a very comfy wrought iron bird’s nest. The orange sun sank behind the purple sea, and before long, the glittering yellow lights of Kailua-Kona town appeared below.

Later, we repaired to the outdoor Jacuzzi, the bright stars above now imitated the city lights below, and the pungent jungle flower aromas made us dizzy. Feeling suddenly Swedish, I ran across the grass in the buff and dove into the cold pool, an event noted by our fellow guests with bemusement the next morning.

Despite this and other memorable experiences, I did find myself feeling a tad exasperated with the inn. The exquisite hostelry offers eye-popping architecture, art and decor, great facilities and amenities, a superb breakfast and excellent service all of it so enticing that one doesn’t want to leave the grounds. But, the concierge book lists a number of great attractions nearby, such as restaurants, coffee farms, art galleries and historical sites. What’s a conflicted traveler to do?

Well, for starters, stay more than one night.


Holualoa Inn
P.O. Box 222
Holualoa, HI 96725
Fax: 808-322-2472

Hits: The scrumptious breakfasts feature the inn’s own estate coffee, fresh local fruit and baked goods made right there in the kitchen.

Misses: The Holualoa Inn isn’t on the beach. It’s a 15-minute drive to the Kona Coast.

Be Aware: Breakfast is shared at a long table with other guests. If you’re naturally grumpy in the morning, consider an early lunch instead.

Plugging In: Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the property.

Clientele: Coffee lovers, art lovers, aficionados of interior design.

Rates: From $260-$310 per night, plus taxes. Two-night minimum, with exceptions depending upon availability.

Commission: 10 percent