Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore!

I knew I wasn’t in my bed at home when I woke up in the middle of the night and heard the ocean roaring outside. And when I grabbed my camera at 5:45 this morning, this is what greeted when I stepped out on the deck of the house we’re renting:


Yep, definitely not Kansas anymore—or, in our case, the Sacramento Valley.

This is the eastern shore of the Big Island of Hawaii. We’re renting a house outside of Pahoa, also known as the Big Islands “hippie capital.” I can’t attest to that yet, having just arrived yesterday evening, but I will report back.

I do know that this area is far away from everything, which is why it is quiet and so reasonably priced. We’re spending six days here to explore Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to the west and the Hilo area just to the north.




The house next door

After sunrise, we took a walk through our neighborhood, which seems to be a good mix of local residences and vacation properties. Every house has lush landscaping, either installed on purposes or provided for free by mother nature. Some of the plants I can identify, but many of them are unknown to me.

The difference between this area and the manicured resort properties we saw in Maui last year couldn’t be greater. While I enjoyed the glitz of Maui, this is closer to my heart. Quieter, more natural, and less in your face.





Shampoo ginger (Zingiber zerumbet)


Casually growing outside somebody’s front yard: real pineapples!s



At least these agaves looked familiar


Lava rock wall with plants I couldn’t identify


House on our street


Screwpine (Pandanus tectorius)


Strange looking fortress down the street from us




Does anybody know what these large leaves are?

Sitting here at the dining room table overlooking the restless ocean, I can’t help but think that I’ve never written a blog post in a more beautiful place.

And lest you think you have to be rich to rent a house like this: We’re paying less per night for this three-bedroom house right on the ocean than the Marriott in Portland, Oregon charged the Garden Fling attendees a few weeks ago.

P.S. For those of you who like maps, here is where we are:



  1. Beautiful place, gorgeous plants. Your post is so funny because just a few days ago I wondered if the area was still home to hippies just as it was in the early 1980s when we visited. You will enjoy seeing the sights and I'm glad to hear it is still a laid-back place.

    1. That might be Taro from which they make a pasty, bland dish for luaus.

    2. Shirley, Pahoa is still very laid back. The "downtown" (if you can call it that) looks like it has seen little change over the years. Just being here makes you relaxed.

  2. Looks like you are really relaxed… just look at that face! I find I enjoy Kauai for the same laid-back atmosphere you describe for the Big Island. Take lots of pics of those unknown plants and look them up when you get back, or if you're really hot to know, join up with Plant Idents on Facebook and let those crack horti nerds have a go. You'll likely have your answer in a few minutes. As you were, my friend!

    1. LOL, that face only a mother could love!

      I'm taking pictures whether I know the plants or not. Ultimately, it doesn't even matter if I ever find out what they are. Just seeing them in person is so cool.

  3. It all sounds so dreamy and idyllic Gerhard, wow back in Hawaii again! The more quiet and rural location you are in now seems to us is the most appealing option. The big leaf could be a type of Xanthosoma. Looking forward to your pics of this fab place we'd love to visit someday, hopefully soon.

    1. I think a lot of people would find Paoha (and the entire east side of the island) too laid back. But it suits me just fine. I love seeing how the "real" people live, and Paoha and Hilo seems quite real. And for raw scenery, this side of the island is hard to beat.

  4. Love that shot of you and the big leaves, I'm going to have to get the info on this place when (not if) we visit Hawaii...

    1. This house would be great for a small get-together with friends or family. And the location! I just told my younger daughter that she would most likely not stay in a house right on the house again for a long time to come.

  5. I completely forgot that you were going to Hawaii shortly after Portland! Renting a house in a quiet area is the best way to enjoy any of these islands I think. Now you've got me daydreaming...


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