on the Big Island: Kealakekua and Captain Cook

the breakfast lanai

In our B&B on Mount Hualalai, we were woken by birdsong each morning at 6 am sharp. No roosters this time, but when we went out on the lanai to look over the garden we saw a number of kalij pheasants, a flock of wild turkeys and a number of small black pigs. Breakfasts were out on the main lanai, served with plenty of homegrown Kona coffee, and each of them was wonderful – macadamia nut pancakes, French toast with cinnamon apples, omelets, fresh papaya and bananas…good stuff.

Coffee Shack
view from the coffee shack

One day, after an exciting kayaking adventure in which one of our lame plastic tourist kayaks filled with water and nearly sank off the Captain Cook monument in Kealakekua Bay, we made our way south to the Coffee Shack for a much-needed lunch. It’s another one of those unlikely-looking spots, a small weathered building clinging to the side of a cliff. The tables on the open porch were all full, so we took a table in the enclosed porch in the back. If not for the vog, the view would have been stupendous – as it was, we could still look straight down the mountainside to the bay.

Reuben at the Coffee Shack

I got a hot pastrami sandwich on onion-dill bread and J ordered the Reuben on rye, and both were extremely satisfying, made with loads of meat and homemade bread. They came with nothing on the side but a pickle and a peperoncino, but the sandwiches were so enormous that was probably a good thing. We gazed longingly at the dessert case as we left – the cookies looked especially good.

Greenwell Coffee

We stopped by a coffee farm on the way back into town – there are small coffee plantations all over Kona, along with macadamia orchards, and many have tasting areas or self-serve stands. We picked Greenwell Farms, which seemed like a good company to check out. They had this great coffee tasting lineup, along with Maui sugar and local macadamias. No milk, sadly, so I’m afraid most of the coffee samples tasted identical to me. We bought some anyway (we’ve been drinking it all this week – good stuff). I frankly had no idea how expensive 100% Kona coffee was – now I know.

Teshima's
Teshima's restaurant

That evening, after some much-needed down time, we headed to Teshima’s for dinner. This place is a real Kona institution, it’s been here since the 30’s and probably hasn’t changed much. When we sat down we were brought a pot of excellent tea and two fresh nori rolls, which instantly put us into a good mood.

teriyaki combo at Teshima's

We each ordered one of their combo platters – J got the beef teriyaki and I got the “sea trio,” with tuna sashimi, fried ahi and shrimp tempura. Both combos came with miso, rice, cucumber salad and pickled cabbage, all excellent.

sea trio at Teshima's

I didn’t really care for the fried ahi – it was gray and dry, the way ahi always gets when it’s cooked through – but everything else was really good, and closer to real, fresh homemade food than most of what we’d been eating recently. It was a very welcome respite from the touristy places.

sunset from Teshima's

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