The Kona Village Resort is situated where an ancient Hawaiian fishing village and salt farm once stood. At one time, between 10,000 and 12,000 Hawaiian people called this village their home. Evidence of their lives can still be seen in the ancient petroglyph field on the resort property. After a lava flow in 1801, many of the residents moved north. A tidal wave in 1939 also changed the landscape. In 1961, Johnno and Helen Jackson arrived in their well-traveled schooner “The New Moon.” They began to build a true Polynesian resort, the “Kona Village.” The area was so remote that an air strip had to be built to bring in supplies, workers, and for the first few years, guests. Their schooner, which sank in the bay in 1967, still serves as the poolside bar.
On my parents’ first trip to Hawaii in the 70’s they spent their last three nights at the Kona Village before returning home. They instantly fell in love with the resort and have returned again and again.
When I was 14, it was my turn to visit the Kona Village, but like my parents’ first trip, they would save the best for last. My parents planned a trip that would introduce me to all the important historical and geographical parts of Hawaii. Our first stop was Honolulu, Oahu, to explore Pearl Harbor, the Punch Bowl and the Polynesian Cultural Center. We then flew to Kauai, which boasts the wettest place on earth. We took the little boat up to the fern grotto where a group of natives sang the Hawaiian Wedding Song to us.
Our last stop was the leeward side of the Big Island. As we drove down the long narrow road through the lava fields, I just couldn’t believe there would be anything tropical here. And then I saw heaven. Rivers of black lava had flowed all the way to the ocean, but the volcano has spared the ponds and lush vegetation had grown around them. We stayed in a grass hut called a hale (pronounced ha-lay) beside a natural alkaline royal pond. There were no phones or TVs just peace and quiet. It was here that I experienced my first luau, complete with pig in the ground, fire dancers—the whole shebang. In the evening, you could stand on the rocks over the water and manta rays would come up to the surface. I understood now why my folks loved this place so much. It was truly heavenly.
In 2003 my parents took our whole family back to the Kona Village for their 50th wedding anniversary. The only thing that makes this magical resort more special is the time you spend with loved ones while you are here. We all went to the luau again, and swam, and ate dinner together, and my brothers and I even had an up-close-and-personal experience in our kayaks with a very friendly humpback whale. But that is a story for another time. On our recent trip, we were not able to stay at the resort, but they kindly let us in to replace our very tattered 2003 T-shirts in the gift shop. As we were walking down the path near the pool, I spotted this hibiscus, glistening in the tropical sun. For me, this special place is as close to heaven as you can get, a place to dream about returning to, again and again.
*Sadly, after 45 years of welcoming guests, the resort closed its doors due to the significant structural and property damage sustained from the March 11, 2011 earthquake-generated tsunami.
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This Limited Edition print comes ready to hang and is hand signed and numbered by the artist. The piece is suitable for framing, but is not necessary. Do you have questions about this item? Please contact info@DyanaHesson.com
Edition of 100
Giclee on Canvas