We asked Gilles Mauffras, Chef Concierge at Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Historic Ka’upulehu, to gather the savviest sight-seeing suggestions he could find—not just his own but also those of the local connoisseurs, including some he works with every day at the Resort. Hualalai, on Hawaii’s Big Island, is a dramatic mix of fine white sand, dazzling turquoise ocean and black-lava landscapes. A destination of enchanting natural beauty, this area is the cradle of Hawaiian civilisation.
Unique shopping opportunities begin right at the Resort, where the Seaside Luxe boutique carries the Hawaiian-inspired, tie-dyed silk designs of Gregory Parkinson. A few miles up the Kohala coast at Waikoloa’s King’s Shops, Under the Koa Tree showcases products made from a variety of beautifully grained Hawaiian woods, including jewellery boxes, combs, frames and bowls. Another shopping excursion not to miss is nearby Holualoa Village, a quaint town turned artist’s enclave, with two dozen or so shops and galleries.
Pu‘uhonua O Honaunau National Historic Park is a great place to learn about Hawaiian life in ancient times. Set on a sheltered coral bay, it housed the ali’i (kings) and provided sanctuary to defeated warriors and those who would otherwise have been killed for violating sacred laws. Next door is a popular snorkelling area with numerous turtles.
Hiking is a great way to get off-the-beaten track. Families should try the Kohala Waterfalls Adventure offered by Hawaii Forest and Trail. After a scenic drive up through the plantation towns of North Kohala, there’s a 1.5-mile (2.5 km) loop trail that features a relaxed walk, dramatic views of Pololū Valley, charming footbridges, historic taro terraces and intimate waterfalls.
Tastes of the Big Island
Kona coffee, grown only on the Big Island’s Kona coast beginning just south of the Resort, is world-famous for its smoothness and rich body. (Avoid anything labelled “Kona blend,” which contains only a small percentage of real Kona.) Many growers offer tours and tastings; one of the best is Greenwell Farms, where visitors can track coffee from tree to cup. Though not as well known as coffee, chocolate is also grown and produced locally. The Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory, just a few miles outside Kona town, offers reservations-only tours that, like coffee, follow production from cacao pods to finished product.
Going to Extremes
Visit Volcanoes National Park at the south tip of the island to peer into the smoking crater of Kilauea volcano, and, if your timing is right, watch glowing red lava pour into the sea. Nearly 14,000 feet (4200 metres) above is the tip of dormant Mauna Kea volcano, which is topped by a famous observatory and, usually in winter, snowfields. A variety of nature tours are offered on the mountain (the Resort’s Concierges can arrange private tours of Mauna Kea and the volcanoes), and stargazing is possible a bit lower down the slope at the Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka Space Center.