Published on July 7th, 2013 | by Charu Suri6
Cloud Rest and Cane Haul Road: Hawaii The Big Island’s Hidden Gems
“You wouldn’t have seen anything like Cloud Rest,” Edmund C. Olsen assured me, as he shows me the Ka’u Coffee Farm and all its richly roasted wares. Olsen, who owns the Ka’u coffee plantation, loves this area of the island which many visitors have little idea exists.
Cloud Rest on The Big Island Hawai’i refers to a group of private, cloud-clad coffee farms on the Southeast part of the island, just a few miles from South Point. This is zen country, the least populated and unhurried area of the island. To visit the Cloud Rest region means to brush shoulders with halos of clouds, alpine spruce and private swaths of land studded with young coffee trees that belong to various local farmers. For many, growing coffee has become their new occupation, ever since the sugarcane industry suffered a setback because of global politics and multi-cultural strikes.
The Ka’u district was not an area I had heard of, and the only Cloud’s Rest I knew was located in California. In many ways, I did not expect to find such a mystical section on The Big Island that looked like it was taken from a scene in The Lord of the Rings. But I did.
Just a few miles from Pahala, The Big Island, is that richly fertile section of cloud-kissed soil that is ideal for growing coffee. It is so quiet that you can hear Heaven. I arrived like a weary traveler in search of inspiration and found magic on the base slopes of Mauna Loa, which towered like a purple monolith in the distance.
The silhouettes of mountains were around us for miles, and the air was thick and heavy with the scent of spruce. Hundreds of coffee trees were planted in small farms in neat, almost symmetrical rows.
Cloud Rest Coffee Farms: a slice of heaven and a higgen gem on The Big Island
There we were: John Cross, Senior Operations Manager from the Ka’u Coffee Mill, Matthew, Erika and I, who were witnesses to quiet farms that were obviously growing coffee in the most perfect conditions: skyscraper-high altitudes, rich volcanic soil and an ideal balance of rainfall and some sun. All this means production of coffee with low acidity, and tremendous taste. Here, the bean has its perfect nourishing conditions with its micro climate of sunny days and cool nights.
After our visit to Cloud’s Rest, Cross took Matthew, Erika on a short but breathtaking trip on a road less traveled: in fact, many people don’t know it even exists. On Cane Haul Road, we drove past acres of sugarcane fields, the vestige of a bygone era. Way down below, the Pacific Ocean roared. We loved the meadows, the horses and the thick breeze ruffling our hair.
Above: the raw beauty of Cane Haul Road, another hidden gem
Cane Haul Road is not your Kohala Coast Drive: it is romantic, whimsical and magical, perfect for the adventurous and the romantic at heart. Both Cloud’s Rest and Cane Haul Road rank highly as two of Hawaii’s hidden gems that we were so fortunate to experience.
These are just two of the reasons why our visit to The Big Island won’t be our last.
To access Cloud Rest, take the Mamahaloa Highway (or Route 11) parallel to Wood Valley Road in Pahala which is where the Ka’u Coffee Farm is.