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A Big Island farm stay: Off-the-grid adventure in Hawaii

Brian J. Cantwell, The Seattle Times on

Published in Travel News

"Intense!" Justina sighed.

Adrian then pointed out scars on a nearby tree trunk. "Here you can see where one has freshly gouged it with its tusks!"

We returned to the farmhouse with two 5-gallon buckets and a knapsack stuffed with avocados, some to be consumed on the farm and some to be sold to nearby natural-food stores.

Whenever walking the farm with a visitor, John proudly names every plant passed. "Those are saba bananas, from the Philippines, and used like a potato for stews ... Those are sapote trees, which bear a chocolate-looking persimmon, like chocolate pudding inside ... That's a thousand-fingered banana, which makes about 1,000 tiny, basically unusable, bananas -- but it's novel ... "

He nurtures a mishmash of crops. In each cabin look for a numbered map of the farm that names more than 90 varieties of plants. It's far from being a monoculture operation.

"It's a lot more work but in the end it's a lot better for the whole circle of life," John said.

As we finally departed on the narrow and puddled drive, we'd driven a short ways when I noticed some globular, dark objects on the road ahead. Normally I'd have just kept driving.

But wait, were those avocados?

My wife jumped out and came back with three big fat ones that would have just been crushed beneath our wheels.

Mmm. Our view of nature's bounty had been reawakened. Pick up some chips? Maybe some salsa? This would be a luscious lunch.



More adventure lodging on the big island of Hawaii: Arnott's Famous Lodging and Adventures operates a Hilo lodge (with offerings ranging from camping to dormitories to private suites) and guided outings for budget travelers;

--Google "Airbnb Hawaii treehouses" and you'll be amazed at what comes up, such as the stunning multilevel Treehouse at Kilauea Volcano ($289/night, with hot tub in the branches), as well as treehouses on Maui and Oahu.

-- Rappel down a 120-foot private waterfall when you stay at the Inn at Kulaniapia, outside Hilo;

--Dragonfly Ranch Healing Arts Center treehouse-style bed-and-breakfast is in the Honaunau area, south of Kailua-Kona, with website testimonials from such guests as Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys;

-- Share your own favorite adventure lodging finds in Hawaii; click on comments below.

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