December in Kona is really turning out to be my favorite time of year here. Not only is it cooler and less humid, but there are so many holiday events to attend, put on, and enjoy, plus holiday traditions to now create with my family. With that, I give you my personal list of five things that make Kona amazing during the holidays!
1. Cutting our own tree
There is a tree farm up at the top of Koloko Road, Fairolen Farms, where you can roam around and find the perfect Douglas Fir tree to cut down. (Prices are pretty reasonable-about $45 for a six foot tree). The owners used to have a tree farm in the Santa Cruz Mountains, above the Silicon Valley where we used to cut down our trees when we lived there, and brought the firs here to create a Douglas fir tree farm! They may not serve hot chocolate and hot dogs like the tree farms did back in California, but I don’t have to freeze with my family while my face and hands turn red roaming around for an hour looking for the perfect tree. The farm sits on a few acres and you can wear shorts and a light jacket. Best of all, the owners will either cut your tree for you and haul it back up to your car for you, or you can cut it yourself, (with supervision) and drag it to your own car. The owners are seriously infused with Aloha and we enjoy seeing them each year now that we have made the jaunt up the mountain a family tradition.
2. Holiday fundraisers like the Kona Kohala Chef Association fundraising event, Christmas at Kamakahonu Bay, and the Lava Lava Beach Club’s “Feast on the Beach” are fantastic ways to help raise money for local charities, and offer great networking, fun and superb food right next to the ocean! Both outdoor events this year had perfect weather and we had a serious blast at both. We had a chance to visit my friend Farsheed and his four foot tall chocolate fountain at the Chef’s event. (see pic) At the Lava Lava event, they had a S’more station on the beach with various fire pits! If you are new to Kona and want to get into the “scene”, ask ahead of time if you can volunteer. We put in a few hours at the Lava Lava event and had a chance to meet some really cool folks.
3. Getting chilly with the stars!
When we first moved here, we just had a tough transition with wearing shorts around Christmastime. SO, we packed it up and went to the visitors center at Mauna Kea. There, we could wear our jackets, scarves and gloves and drink hot chocolate. We also have been treated to the moons of Jupiter, the Milky Way, and full moons rising. We now go up there for Christmas Eve with a picnic dinner and drink the $2 hot chocolate they sell at the gift shop. The astrologists at the center do a really great job explaining all the constellations, too!
We are close to the Sheraton Kona, so we get to see their beautiful tree in their lobby all the time while enjoying a cup of coffee looking out over Keauhou Bay. During the holiday break, I take the kids up to see the decorated trees at the Mauna Lani Resort, where various non-profits decorate dozens of trees. This year, I am going to make the 5 minute trek over to the Fairmont Orchid and see what their display looks like, too. I treat the kids to lemonade while we see Christmas in paradise in full splendor at the Kohala resorts.
5. Taking time to just enjoy the season by watching the waves and the sunset
Near Christmas, the sun is setting around 5:30, so it’s too early in the evening to get all your friends together for drinks and lounging for dinner to watch sunset like we do during the summer. This provides that time to just sit alone on a cliff and watch the winter swell come in and contemplate life and the year that has passed. I love to go to the “cliff” in front of the Kanaloa Resort across the bay from the Sheraton to watch the waves come in, and feel the ocean mist as it is hurled upward and drifts slowly down on me. I like to take a glass of chardonnay up with me and just revel in the colors, the smell, the beauty and joy of being there at that moment. When the big waves are rolling in, it is so exciting to experience the crashing surf and I have seen breaching whales here on a few occasions. Did I mention being at Kua Bay on Christmas Day and swimming? Yeah..that’s pretty good, too.
I wish you all a fantastic holiday season and Merry Christmas! If you know or someone you know wants to learn more about Kona, please consider getting my book! Please share in the comments section what is YOUR favorite thing to do in Kona during the holidays!