Orchid Extravaganza! Horizon Guest House – Captain Cook – Big Island – Hawaii

Orchid Big Island Horizon Guest House Kona

Guests at Horizon Guest House often ask me ‘what makes Hawaii so special?’ and the first answer that usually comes to mind is ‘the weather’.

The weather on the Big Island is consistent and doesn’t tend to change much throughout the year. The Big Island also has an added bonus – you can pick your weather within a tropical to subtropical range. Actually, you can technically find 10 of the 14 climate zones right here on the island.

Orchid Big Island Horizon Guest House Hawaii

One result of this consistent weather is the ability to grow a huge range of plants and flowers. And one of my favorites is the orchid (orchidaceae).

Orchid Big Island Hawaii Horizon Guest House

The variety of flower formations is astounding. There are about 28,000 currently accepted species and about 100,000 hybrids and cultivars.

Orchids Big Island Hawaii Horizon BnB

Developing new hybrids and cultivars is a huge endeavor on the Big Island – you can see a large number of varieties at the annual orchid show in Hilo sponsored by the Hilo Orchid Society. This year it was held on June 28-30th. I didn’t make it to this year’s show but I have been to many in past years and thoroughly recommend it. For more details check out their website here

Orchid Big Island Horizon Guest House

Fun fact! Another name for the Big Island is the ‘orchid isle’. This is because Hawaii quite quickly got a reputation for excellence in producing orchids. First grown commercially in the early 1900s, Hawaii was dubbed ‘the orchid center of the world’ when the Honolulu Orchid Society exhibited over 20,000 plants in St. Louis at the 1957 World Orchid Conference. Today, orchids are a multi-million dollar industry.

When seeing orchids out in the living room, guests frequently ask how I’m able to have them out all year. Easy – basically I feed and ignore. The weather does the rest!

Orchids Big Island Hawaii Horizon Guest House

The vanilla orchid (not pictured here) is probably one of the most well-known orchids. It is the second-most expensive spice after saffron. That’s because it’s so labor intensive. Two thirds of the world’s vanilla is grown in Madagascar and Indonesia.

I did have a vanilla orchid here at Horizon Guest House, and yes, it did bloom. The problem is that there’s a very specific window when it’s possible to pollenate – and I kept missing the window. And in the end, a turkey ripped the plant off the tree – and that was the end of my vanilla production.

Orchid Kona Big Island Hawaii Horizon Guest House

Native orchids
Jewel orchid. Photo credit: G. Daida and http://www.botany.hawaii.edu/faculty/carr/orchidoid.htm
Jewel orchid. Photo credit: G. Daida and http://www.botany.hawaii.edu/faculty/carr/orchidoid.htm

There are only three types of orchids native to Hawaii. These are Anoetochilus sandvicensis (the jewel orchid); Liparis hawaiensis (the twayblade orchid); and Platanthera holochila.

Photo credit. Forest & Kim Starr, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6150896
Twayblade orchid. Photo credit. Forest & Kim Starr, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6150896

The best place to find these orchids in the wild is on a hike at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, or in the wet forests on the east side of the island.

 

Photo credit. J.K. Obata
Platanthera holochila. Photo credit. J.K. Obata

Alternatively, for all things orchid, check out Akatsuka Orchid Gardens not far from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.Orchid Horizon Guest House Captain Cook Hawaii

But sometimes all you need is an orchid and a sunset…


For more details on Horizon Guest House:

• Check out our suites here

• Information on our rates are available here

• To make a booking use our contact form to make a reservation request

Clem’s Hot Cereal Recipe: A B&B classic! Horizon Guest House – Captain Cook – Big Island – Hawaii

Cereal recipe Horizon Guest House Big Island Captain Cook

Over the years guests have frequently asked for recipes of items on the Horizon BnB menu. Among the most requested recipes – our wild rice hot breakfast cereal! It’s sometimes called muesli, granola or oatmeal – the name varies from region to region.

So why is it so good?

First off, it happens to be really healthy for you. The combination of whole grains is extensive. Grains take time for your body to digest. This gives you a constant energy boost without the ‘quick hit’ of processed carbs and sugar found in many other traditional breakfast cereals. The recipe is also variable. If you have a favorite grain you can add it, or substitute it for one already in the recipe.

Second, it’s very easy to prepare. Prep time is around 15 minutes. It’s oven baked and needs only one hour of attention, after that the cool-down in the oven finishes the baking.

Third, it keeps really well. You can store the cereal in containers in the refrigerator for days – heating only what you want to use that day. Longer storage in the freezer for weeks or months at a time means you can prepare a larger batch and have a supply on hand.

Fourth, it tastes good. Just the basic recipe is delicious. Add nuts, milk/cream, maple syrup, etc. to notch it up. Combine with fresh fruit of almost any kind and you have the perfect healthy breakfast.

Fifth, it’s adaptable, you can make this gluten free if needed – just substitute buckwheat for the bulgar/whole wheat in the basic recipe.

How to put it all together:

The basic recipe calls for mixing all of the ingredients in a shallow baking dish (such as a 9 x 13 cake pan).

Cereal Horizon Guest House Captain Cook Hawaii
Start with a shallow baking dish

Add all the ingredients to the pan.

Breakfast Cereal recipe Horizon BnB Big Island Hawaii
Arranging ingredients in a nice pattern is optional 🙂

Add the boiling water and then stir.

Cereal recipe Horizon B&B Big Island Hawaii
Just add water!

Then cover with foil and bake at 350F oven for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and uncover – careful, that’s a hot dish you’re working with. Add sufficient water so that when stirred it has a loose consistency. Make sure to scrape any baked-on bits into the slurry.

Cover and return to oven, then turn off oven, and leave overnight, or at least 4-5 hours, to finish hydrating the grains.

Cereal recipe Horizon Guest House Big Island Captain Cook
Restaurant-quality cereal!

Decant into storage containers and when cool enough, refrigerate or freeze in smaller containers for long term storage. Enjoy!

Don’t forget the extras

Some extra grains I like to add:

Kalmut: an ancient grain rich in zinc, magnesium and selenium. It’s known as a ‘high-energy grain’ because of its high percentage of lipids.

Quinoa: a complete protein containing all nine essential amino acids

Spelt: high in fiber and protein it’s easier to digest than wheat

Rye: a good source of soluble fiber, vitamin E, calcium, iron and potassium.

Flax: high in omega-3 fatty acids and lignans (which have plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities).

The basic recipe is included below or click here to download the PDF.

How did your cereal turn out? Did you add any extra grains? We would love to hear your feedback! Let us know in the comments section below, or leave a comment on our Facebook post.

Wild Rice Cereal

8 c water
1/2 c wild rice
1/2 c pearl barley
1/2 c steel-cut oats
1/2 c bulgar wheat
1/2 c raisins
1/2 c chopped pitted dates 1/4 c dark brown sugar
3 tbs butter
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325 F. Butter 2 1/2 qt ovenproof dish. In prepared dish, mix wild rice with remaining ingredients. Add water [I use boiling water to shorten the bake time]. Cover with foil and bake until grains are tender, water is absorbed and cereal is creamy [about 1 1/2 hours]. *About mid-way through, I usually take it out and add more water if needed & also stir. Store in refrigerator when cool and reheat servings as needed. May be frozen.

 


For more details on Horizon Guest House:

• Check out our suites here

• Information on our rates are available here

• To make a booking use our contact form to make a reservation request

Big Island Lava and the Hawaiian Diamond Horizon Guest House – Captain Cook – Big Island – Hawaii

A'a and Pahoehoe Big Island Horizon BnB
A’a and Pahoehoe lava

Hawaii is a series of islands composed, primarily, of lava. Lava isn’t all the same. Two main types are A’a (ah-ah) and pahoehoe (paw-hoey-hoey). There is also a third type, but you’re not likely to encounter it as it forms during submarine eruptions, this is called ‘pillow’ lava.

The dynamics of a lava flow generally dictate which type of lava forms. A’a lavas are associated with high discharge rates and steep slopes, while pahoehoe flows are associated with lower discharge rates and gentle slopes. Geology aside, pahoehoe is usually darker and a’a tends to be lighter and brownish to reddish. The reddish comes from oxidation of the iron to iron oxide.

Pahoehoe tends to be smooth. You can generally walk on it without shoes. A’a on the other hand is chunky and sharp  – think of the sound you’d make when trying to walk on it bare foot!

Two Steps Big Island Hawaii Captain Cook Horizon Guest House
Two Steps

If you snorkel at Two Steps, only minutes from Horizon Guest House and adjacent to Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park, or Place of Refuge, you’ll find yourself walking over smooth pahoehoe before entering the water.

Black sand Horizon Guest House Honaunau Captain Cook Hawaii
Black sand

When the lava is broken up into fine grains we end up with a black sand. However, when the mineral olivine is present in large enough quantities, and is packed into a sedimentary formation, natural erosion creates a green sand beach.

In the photo below is the ‘famous’ Green Sand Beach – also called Papakōlea Beach. This unique beach is located about two miles from the southern most point of the Big Island, South Point, and is approximately an hour’s drive south of Horizon Guest House.

Green Sand Beach Big Island Hawaii Horizon B&B Captain Cook
Papakōlea Beach – green sand beach

Papakōlea Beach is one of only four green sand beaches in the world, the other three are in Guam, Galapagos Islands and Norway.

The cliff in the background of the photo is a loose, sedimentary formation containing a relatively large amount of olivine as fine crystals. The green crystals are mixed with black (lava) and white (coral/shells) sand and, as a result, some patches of sand are greener than others.

How to get there

To get to Papakōlea Beach involves a drive and a hike (but it’s well worth the extra effort).

  1. Take the road to ‘South Point’ between mile markers 69 and 70 on Hwy 11 (between Kona and Volcano Village). Drive to the small harbor at the end. On the left hand side there is a car park.
  2. Walk from the car park to the ocean and take the road to the left (facing the water, toward the east). Follow the road with the ocean on your right for approximately 2.5 miles. At this point you will be above the beach. Next, make your way carefully along the lava cliff on the west side of the bay.

Tip: Leave early and try to make the trip on a weekday to avoid the crowds.

You can see in the next photo how green the olivine sand is. There is also a lava rock with olivine occlusions, and a bracelet made from larger olivine crystals.

Peridot Horizon BnB Hotel Captain Cook Hawaii
Olivine sand and lava

Fun fact! A type of olivine is peridot (also found in meteorites) and is a gem quality stone. Peridot is also referred to locally as ‘Hawaiian Diamond’. Found in only a fraction of the olivine deposits, it is the birthstone for the month of August – so happy birthday to all you August babies out there!

Strange but true! When lava is ejected into the air, it can form an usual solid lava that has an uncanny resemblance to petrified wood. These samples below came from the Hualalai mountain, which is the mountain you see when you land at the Kailua-Kona airport.

Solid lava Hawaii Big Island Horizon Guest House
Solid lava almost identical to petrified wood!

 

For more details on Horizon Guest House:

• Check out our suites here

• Information on our rates are available here

• To make a booking use our contact form to make a reservation request

Donkey Life: BFFs Poncho and Lefty Horizon Guest House – Captain Cook – Big Island – Hawaii

Donkey Big Island Hawaii B&B
Poncho and Lefty strike a pose

Over ten years ago we added to the Horizon animal family with the first of two donkeys. Poncho was the first addition and soon after we added Lefty. Both donkeys were born in the wild but were captured when they were young. They’re quite tame and love being fed with carrots by the guests.

They look so much alike that while we can’t be certain we’re pretty sure they’re twins! They’re inseparable and you’ll often find them grazing the pastures together at Horizon Guest House, with our horse Sunny not far behind. Sometimes Clem will let Poncho, Lefty and Sunny graze in the upper part of the garden where they like to come visit, keeping us company as we garden.

Donkey Big Island Hawaii Horizon BnB
Lefty

Donkeys don’t need to be shoed like horses. Donkeys tend to have tougher hooves. This is most likely because of their wild ancestor, the African Wild Ass, that evolved in dry, mountainous environments. Studies have shown that walking causes less internal stress to the hoof of the donkey than it does to that of horses. Though this doesn’t stop Poncho and Lefty from coming to hang out with Sunny when she gets her new shoes.

Did you know? Donkeys are smart. Not only is a donkey stronger than a horse of a smilier size, but donkeys have an amazing memory – they can recognise environments, as well as other donkeys, from more than twenty years prior. And just in case you thought donkeys looked less than alert, they’ve been shown to be safety conscious too – tests have proven a donkey will not do something it thinks is unsafe. Although, there was that time that Poncho and Lefty… wait – never mind. After all it wasn’t Poncho and Lefty who ended up in the swimming pool like Buck did…

Donkeys don’t like dogs so much and this might be an evolutionary hangover. It’s been suggested that to a donkey a dog resembles a wolf and therefore remains a threat. Donkeys will often protect the herd from anything it considers to be dangerous, whether that herd includes other donkeys, horses, sheep or goats.

Donkey Big Island Horizon B&B
Lefty checking in with Gary the Goat

Origins of donkeys on the Big Island of Hawaii

Originally brought to Hawaii as work animals on coffee farms and agricultural plantations, their population soon increased and wild donkeys were, until relatively recently, a common sight.

Wandering over the Big Island unchecked for almost the last 40 years, it was only in 2016 that the Humane Society had a big drive to place the remainder of these donkeys into safe, happy homes, either here on the Big Island or even on the mainland. Wild donkeys can be challenging to train so it was a requirement that all those that adopted donkeys could provide ample space and social contact for the animal.

And the key requirement of adopting a donkey? You’ve got to have two! Donkeys are incredibly social animals, so if they can’t have another donkey to keep them company then another animal is a must.

Make time during your stay to visit with our farm animals – they love the company, a scratch under the chin and a friendly pat, and of course a vegetable snack! We always have something on hand to feed them, just ask Clem and he’ll be happy to introduce you to BFFs Poncho and Lefty as well as Horizon’s other domesticated residents.

Donkey Big Island Hawaii Horizon B&B
The whole gang! Sunny taking some time out while Poncho and Lefty stand by

 


 

For more details on Horizon Guest House:

• Check out our suites here

• Information on our rates are available here

• To make a booking use our contact form to make a reservation request

Geckos and Gecko Art at Horizon Horizon Guest House – Captain Cook – Big Island – Hawaii

Horizon Guest House Gecko Gold Dust Captain Cook Hawaii
Gold Dust Gecko in the garden at Horizon Guest House

Even though it was introduced from further afield, the gecko is now emblematic of Hawaii, and you can’t go far on the Big Island without finding them in the natural landscape, printed on t-shirts, made into stickers, or – as you’ll see in this post – as works of art on the walls of the Horizon B&B.

There are eight species of gecko in Hawaii:

  1. Mourning gecko
  2. Stump-toed gecko
  3. Fox gecko
  4. Common house gecko
  5. Tokay gecko
  6. Orange-spotted day gecko
  7. Giant day gecko
  8. Gold dust day gecko

Only the last three – orange-spotted, giant and gold dust geckos are active in the daytime. The gold dust gecko is one of the prettiest and so-named for the coloriation of its body. Their bodies are usually green, or a yellowy green, with yellow speckles.

Gold dust geckos can grow up to 9 inches long. They eat plants, insects and sometimes even other geckos! (And they love a sugar snack too). This species of gecko is the one you will most likely see during your stay at Horizon Guest House on the Kona Coast. Don’t worry, they are completely harmless!

Gold Dust Gecko having a snack at The Coffee Shack on the Kona Coast


Did you know? Geckos don’t have eyelids. Their eyes have a transparent membrane and they clean it with their tongue! Geckos are also able to vocalize, unlike other lizards, making a kind of chirping, clicking sound. The noises geckos make might be to scare off other geckos who have invaded their territory, as a means to avoid fighting, or to attract another gecko in order to mate. They can also jump a fair distance too when chasing their insect prey.

Contrary to popular opinion geckos don’t have tiny toe pads with suction cups. In fact, their toes are covered in hundreds of tiny microscopic hairs called setae. Each of these setae have hundreds of smaller bristles called spatulae. These tiny hairs get close enough to the contours of walls, ceilings and other surfaces that it causes what’s known as the van der Waals force to occur.

Fun fact! The van der Waals force is a physical bond that occurs when electrons from the gecko hair molecules and electrons from the surface of the wall, or ceiling, interact with each other creating an electromagnetic attraction. This allows the gecko to navigate smooth surfaces like glass, as well as walls and ceilings, with ease.

Sometimes you might see a gecko without a tail – as you can imagine this isn’t so good for the gecko. To regrow the tail involves a process that is taxing on the lizard, sapping them of energy. To make matters worse the tail itself is actually a place where essential nutrients and fat are stored for periods when food is difficult to find. If you see a gecko with a thick tail it’s a good indication of the geckos health, hence a thin tail could indicate poor health, or a lack of access to nutrient-rich food.

How did they get to Hawaii? We know the gecko was introduced and can probably assume that they made it across the vast distances in the Pacific by stowing away aboard Polynesian canoes.

Gold Dust Gecko with Clem at Kona Coffee and Tea in Kailua-Kona


Geckos have a varied life span depending on the species but the average expected life span is approximately five years. If you manage to keep one as a pet they can live longer – they have been known to live for almost 20 years in captivity. We don’t keep them as pets here at Horizon Guest House, but you’ll be sure to see them in the garden or out on the lanai, and the occasional one that makes its way indoors. Don’t worry, all rooms have insect screens and doors to keep them, and other insects, out.

Hawaiian mythology

The mo’o are mentioned in Hawaiian mythology as a kind of dragon – their bodies forming a part of the landscape. Seen as the guardians of water, and also the family, they serve to warn or protect a person from an approaching danger. Over time the geckos have become a kind of manifestation of the mythological mo’o. Making the gecko a small but well-respected creature in Hawaiian culture.

Gecko Art at Horizon

Over the years we’ve collected a lot of gecko-related art. These are currently displayed out on the main lanai of the house. Check out the photos below.

Horizon Guest House Captain Cook Hawaii Gecko

Gecko Horizon B&B Kona Coast Hawaii

Horizon Guest House B&B Captain Cook Hawaii

Horizon Guest House Captain Cook Hawaii B&B

Horizon Guest House B&B Honaunau Captain Cook Hawaii


For more details on Horizon Guest House:

• Check out our suites here

• Information on our rates are available here

• To make a booking use our contact form to make a reservation request