New Activities Offer Unique Fun at Ka’u Coffee Festival

Three new adventures join a lineup of coffee-related activities at the 2013 Ka’u Coffee Festival April 26-May 5. They include a Ka’u Mountain Water System Hike, a Coffee & Cattle Day at Aikane Plantation and Ka’u Star Gazing atop Mt. Makanau.

The Ka‘u Mountain Water System Hike is 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesday, May 1 and explores flume systems of the sugar cane era and development of hydroelectric power in Ka’u. John Cross, former operations manager of the Ka’u Sugar Company, leads the moderate-to-difficult hike that covers “undulating and rocky terrain” with an elevation gain from 3,100 to 3,500 feet. It also traverses suspension bridges.

Water flume system photo by Andrew Hara

Water flume system photo by Andrew Hara

“Participants will see the horizontal ash bed irrigation tunnels unique to Ka’u that were bored in the 1920s to bring water down the mountains to the sugar cane fields,” notes Cross. “These tunnels are now being renovated to serve coffee and agriculture under cultivation in the Wood Valley area.” Cross adds that the area is home to a variety of native birds: oma‘o, ‘i‘iwi and ‘apapane. The hike is limited to 30 and lunch is provided for $35. Register at 808-928-0550.

Coffee & Cattle Day is 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday, May 3 and includes an all-you-can-eat buffet at Aikane Plantation. Attendees will see how this Pahala-area agricultural operation grows coffee, grass-fed beef, protea, fruit, taro and more.  Aikane traces its coffee history back to 1894 when J.C. Searle planted the first coffee trees in Ka’u—which are still alive and used to propagate offspring. Admission is $25 and limited to 100. Register at or 808-927-2252.

Ka’u Star Gazing atop Mt. Makanau is 5:30-10 p.m. Friday, May 3 and led by John Cross and Shawn Laatsch, planetarium manager of ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center. Attendees will enjoy a guided interpretation of the night sky from the 1,800-foot summit above Punalu‘u Black Sand Beach. Participants will also be privy to panoramic views of the Ka’u region extending to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park and learn about the area’s history and astronomy’s relevance to Hawaiian culture.

Stargazing photo by Andrew Hara

Stargazing photo by Andrew Hara


Stargazing includes four-wheel drive transport up to the summit from Ka’u, coffee, snacks and a souvenir laser light pointer.  Limited to 35 participants, admission is $35.  Phone 808-928-0550 to signup.

Debuting at last year’s festival, Simply Elegant: the Ka’u Farmers Table is 5:30-8:30 p.m. Saturday, April 27 at The Inn at Kalaekilohana. Featuring Chefs Kenny Joyce and Patty Fujimoto, the multi-course dinner showcases Ka’u’s agricultural products. The menu includes ahi tartare, Caprese salad with homemade mozzarella, Mala‘ai Ratatouille, Pahala corn polenta, Kuahiwi Pelehu beef, coffee shortbread tart, Ka‘u coffee ice cream, Ka‘u coffee espresso caramel and Ka’u estate coffee.  The $75 admission includes a commemorative coffee cup. Advance reservations only at 808-939-8052, visit

Also in its second year, the Triple C Recipe Contest returns to Ka’u Coffee Mill in Pahala with competition in cookies, candies and crackers, all made with Ka’u coffee. Contest fun is 1-4 p.m. Sunday, April 28 and includes free coffee tasting, entertainment by Keoki Kahumoku and the ‘Ukulele Kids and tours of the Ka’u Coffee Mill. Recipe judging is 2 p.m. followed by tasting. The contest offers a $500 grand prize and other cash prizes. Entry info is posted at or phone 808-928-0550. Pick up at entry form and free coffee for your entry at the mill, 96-2694 Wood Valley Road.

Java-jumping festival fun culminates the weekend of May 4-5 at the Pahala Community Center. On Saturday, enjoy the Ka‘u Coffee Festival Ho‘olaule‘a, with a full day of music, hula, food, local crafts, coffee tastings and farm tours. Festival entry is free; Ka‘u Coffee Experience coffee tasting is $5; farm tours are $20. On Sunday, learn about the coffee industry at the annual Ka’u Coffee College. Admission is free, donations appreciated. Call 808-929-9550 or visit

A popular hometown event opens this year’s festival, the Miss Ka’u Coffee Pageant at 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 26 at the Ka’u Coffee Mill. Advance tickets are $10 by calling 808-928-8558.

Ka’u Coffee Festival

Founded in a coffee tradition hailing to the 1800s—plus the hard work of sugar employees who lost their jobs in 1996—Ka‘u coffee burst onto the specialty coffee scene by winning numerous awards. These accolades highlight the unique combination of people and place that makes Ka‘u coffee a favorite across the globe. The festival’s mission is to raise awareness of Ka‘u as a world-class, coffee-growing origin. Serving as an economic stimulus for the rural Ka‘u region, the festival is supported by the County of Hawai‘i Department of Research & Development, Hawai‘i Tourism Authority and Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture. For more information and festival updates, visit, follow the Ka‘u Coffee Festival on Facebook and Twitter or call 808-929-9550.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I do this to keep the spammers away * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.