You can’t see much in the dark. And in the dark, was the time of the day that I arrived in Hawai’i for the first time. However, there is something you can see in the dark, its light – the flickering hints that move without being programmed letting you know that somewhere, people are living among its palm trees, mountains and coffee fields.
And, yet there is more that happens in the dark – feeling. Even if you can’t see, there is the sense to be able to feel ones way through, through wherever there destination ultimately is. It wasn’t long before I got lost in the darkness of the big island while making my way to Sheraton Kona in Keauhou Bay, a bay formed by a volcanic eruption in 1801. En route, I met a man, who I wasn’t afraid of even though it was ‘dark as night’ – his smile – that Aloha was the warmest light. Soon, he gave me directions guiding me back to my ultimate destination by earmarking the traffic lights.
“You’ll see a traffic light, yea? Make a left. You’ll go past two traffic lights, yea? Turn right.”
There is one thing that you can see in the dark – its lights. Guided by light, feeling his warmth of spirit I soon arrived at the final traffic light, yea! Upon walking in to check inI noticed a tag pinned to my concierge’s blouse which said ‘connected to: Ohana.’ Of course, I inquired of its meaning. She said, “we all have something we’re connected to here; I’m connected to Ohana, which means family.”
Wow. Already, I had felt a warm familial spirit in the man I met in the night on the road, and now to learn that the very person greeting me – into my first physical experience with Keauhou Bay at Sheraton believed it too.
Everything is connected
Some of the views that I first gravitated too while being hosted by Shearton Kona for the start of the 45th Kona Coffee Festival bear roots to the history of the land and the people here in Hawai’i – some of the stories by which these places exist are by word of mouth only, meaning that its been Ohana that’s maintained it stories passing them down generation to generation, and, in our modern times on platforms such as these.
I found some really interesting stories attached to some of my first daylight views discovering Keauhou Bay while upon the restored grounds Sheraton Konas. As the natural light arose, the beauty of this sacred place was uncovering Ohana all around me – Keauhou’s brighest amenity.
Each wing at Sheraton Kona is marked with a local saying signifying a meaning for the views of the property depending upon the physical direction of your stay. Ehukai means blue signifying the view of the bay.
These are some of rocks from the volcano eruption that caused lava to flow down from the hills of Hualalai creating what is now known as Keauhou Bay and a new cultural current for Ahupu’a – the region in which Keauhou sits.
Originally opened in 1972, it closed in the early 1990’2. In 2004, it became a Sheraton property and underwent a $20 million renovation and launched a renaissance of culture for Keauhou complete with art prints from Zig Zane, to a sustainable food experience at its restaurant Rays on The Bays which launches a volcanic wine program, after the Bay’s historic connection with volcanoes.
Keauhou Bay, is one of the oldest fisherman villages on the island. Named Kaukulaelae – the story of the people here – their secrets, ways of life and cultural traditions was discovered less than a decade ago when Lily Dudoit, present director of activities, at Sheraton Kona received permission from kupuna (elder) Aunty Lily kong to continue the storytelling tradition of Kaukulaelae with the hotel guests. Since the history was oral and never written down, it is by means of word of mouths, and online platforms like these that their story continues to live.
Among the Ku’ula fishing stones of the bay, one can find wedding chapel and and grassy lands of opium trees also known as menehune trees because of their lumpy structure. According to the story, “the Hawaiian race of Menehune, comparable to Ireland’s leprechauns, is known for not only mischief, but for building structures overnight, such as a fish pond or heiau.”
Beyond Halau Wa’a (canoe shed) where villagers are once thought to have resided you’ll find canoes stationed among the tall trees just past Keauhou Bay and the sacred rock commemorating King Kamehameha III’s life, as a ruler of Hawai’i known for his commitment to and establishment of higher education in all the Hawaiian Islands.
Upon returning from nearly a mile of history, meditating on it all with a cup of Mama Lily’s coffee at the only hotel that carries it – Sheraton – while then dining on sustainable fare and watch Manta’s attain to the height of the lava rocks is an experience belonging only to the night.
p.s. The man with the Aloha smile that I found in the night, I encountered again along a coconut stand towards Kona. His name is and he’s a local here. I told him, I found the traffic lights, yea. And, Ohana too.