I’m not what you would call a die hard coffee drinker. That said, I do like my cup of Joe in the morning but I certainly wouldn’t go out of my way to visit a coffee shop or café. I prefer to slurp mine in bed – black with a spoonful of coco butter. All part of the new me healthy eating/drinking regime you see. Previously I would have quite happily shovelled in a few heaped teaspoons of powdered coffee creamer and sugar substitute. Both of which we now know are nothing but toxic chemicals that do horrid things to your body. But bizarre as it sounds, I actually quite like the taste and still miss it. Chemicals do that to you I guess. Call me an addict if you like, but at least I am an informed addict.
But I digress. Well kind of. For today I am focussing on the Port of Kailua, Kona. Located on the western side of Hawaii’s Big Island and home to the famous Kona coffee amongst other such nice, tasty things.
This is a tender port, meaning that your ship will be at anchor, so expect to come ashore via your ship’s tender boats. Just be sure that you DO come ashore, for not doing so would mean missing out on this absolute treasure of a port and its offerings.
Aside from walking around the town and enjoying the local hospitality which includes Hula dancers, live music and the warmest of island welcomes. There are also some super fun shore excursions to take your pick from. Especially for you Foodies! There is also a tiny beach close to the tender landing, though I would suspect it could get quite crowded on a ‘ship day’.
But let’s start with the coffee. Seriously good coffee. Our group took part in a very interesting and well informed tour to Greenwell Farms. The farm grows and sells the prized Kona coffee which is cultivated on the slopes of Hualalai and Mauna Loa in the North and South Kona Districts of the Big Island. This is not your average coffee we are talking about here – this the real deal. This is one of the most expensive and highly prized coffees in the world and the tour involves the opportunity to taste several varieties. There is also a well stocked gift shop on the premises too, so you will also have an opportunity to buy any favourites you sampled. Also worth noting is that in 2015 ‘Greenwell Farms was selected as one of the 10 Best Food Factory Tours in the nation according to readers of USA Today. Other factory tours nominated but not making the Top 10 included Ben & Jerry’s, Tillamook Cheese Factory and World of Coca-Cola’. So now you know..
Another one to look out for is a visit to the famous Donkey Balls gourmet chocolate outlet. Donkey Balls are essentially macadamia nuts covered in the thickest chocolate imaginable. The balls are hand crafted and come in several varieties. You can take your pick from such favourites as ‘crusty balls’, ‘salty balls’, ‘big balls no nuts’ etc. (you get the picture) – all beautifully packaged and ready for laugh-out-loud sharing when you get home. Its a must do when in Kona and ever-so-slightly-rude-fun-factors and rather expensive prices aside, they do actually taste pretty good.
Lunch was also an interesting adventure on the palate as, following a drive along the ‘historic corridor’ we arrived at Kona Brewing Co. Which, their website informs me is ‘Hawaii’s largest craft brewery – an oasis of tasty craft beers and gourmet food. Within the lineup of a dozen handcrafted ales and lagers are several with a tropical twist. For example Wailua Wheat Ale is made with passion fruit and Pipeline Porter is brewed with 100% Kona coffee.’ We went for the beer pairing lunch menu and tried several different beers with our (very good!) food. These were served in at intervals throughout the meal in smaller-than-normal mini beer glasses. Perfect really! Just enough to savour the flavour without having to stop the bus 5 times on the return drive. Its not like an Oktoberfest if thats what you are after – though I suppose if you really went for it you could do some damage in that sense.
But please do be careful not to over indulge – especially if you intend taking part in a water based tour such as Captain Zodiac’s award winning Raft and Snorkel (gear included) following. The Zodiac tour takes you to Kealakekua Bay Marine Preserve and the site of the Captain Cook Monument. Their website informs me that this area is one of Hawaii’s premier snorkel spots with incredible visibility and calm conditions, and that Kealakekua Bay is also full of Hawaiian history. Look out for pods of dolphins, humpback whales and other marine mammals. Get ready for close up views of the sea caves, lava tubes, blowholes and archways as you explore the rugged coastline. Zodiac Hurricane RHIB’s are fast and highly maneuverable and are known to amount to an exciting ride – so hold on tight!
Many thanks to the outstanding meet and greet team at Kailua, Greenwell Coffee, Kona Coffee, Donkey Balls, Kona Brewing Co. & Captain Zodiac. Mahalo.