Living the Rural Life in the Mountains of Hawaii Island
My wife and I like the amenities of resort vacations as much as the next couple. But in June 2012, we spent a month living like locals. Our favorite part of that experience was at a magical place near Hawi named Puakea Ranch.
The place is dripping with history: All four of the structures on the property date back to the 1940s or earlier, vestiges of the place’s former life as a pig ranch and a sugar plantation as part of the communal Kohala Field system.
Puakea also offers luxury: When the owners purchased the place in 2006, they spent three years gutting the structures and retrofitting them with modern kitchens and luxurious (stand-alone) bathhouses.
Most important, Puakea is a haven for little ones learning about the world. Animals on the ranch outnumber humans by a count of nine or 10 to one. Storms move through regularly, leaving nothing but rainbows in their path. On clear nights, thanks to zero light pollution, the night sky reveals a bazillion stars.
Our girls—ages 3.5 and 1 at the time—loved interacting with this wonder. Every morning, my toddler and I fetched eggs from the chicken coop across the lawn and plucked papayas from trees out back. During afternoons, the four of us tromped up the hill to watch the horses graze. In the evenings, my wife sauntered into the garden to snip herbs for pasta and other dishes. On aimless walks around the property, I’d take the baby to watch the switchgrass wave in the whipping wind and play spot-the-wayward-cows-and-goats.