Little Black Book

Tiny Atlas Quarterly's Kona Secrets

by Tiny Atlas Quarterly
Picture-perfect in Kona. All photos by Tiny Atlas Quarterly founder and publisher Emily Nathan.

On the pages of Tiny Atlas Quarterly, one of our 24 Best Travel Blogs and Websites 2014, you will not only find wanderlust-inducing photos and fresh design layouts, but transportative stories and tucked-away insider lists about destinations far and wide. Founder Emily Nathan and her team went to Hawaii for their latest issue and brought back a little black book of Kona secrets.

KONA, HAWAII – We recently went to Hawaii to photograph artist Klea McKenna for the Fieldwork section of our magazine, Tiny Atlas Quarterly. The feature is about artwork that is made in response to a place — in Klea's case, her family's land in Kona, Hawaii. The artist collects physical samples in the region's dense jungles, such as the giant leaves seen in some of the photos in our feature. Tiny Atlas art director Liz Mullally worked with artist Amy Nathan to illustrate the images (some of which you'll see below). 

I stayed on the Kohala Coast and photographed Puako, upcountry, and Pololu for a few days. Then I met up with writer Aimee Friberg and Klea, and we went to the Blue Lagoons before traveling to South Kona to shoot at Klea's place. After the shoot, we wanted to explore a bit more of the island for context and roamed all around Kohala because it is beautiful and off the beaten track. 

Blue Lagoons at Kiholo Bay
Mile Marker 81 on Hwy 11, Kailua-Kona
The parking lot is just a mile marker off the side of a highway and the trail sprawls across cracked lava fields and dense vegetation. The freshwater-infused lagoons are a place where turtles come to nest and play alongside tropical fish, making this little slice of heaven a great spot for snorkeling.

Ka'aloa’s Super J’s
83-5409 Mamalahoa Hwy, Captain Cook; 808-328-9566
Pork lau lau is the dish to get. Behind a heavy screen door in a dark room you can find owner Janice and old aunties wrapping pork in taro leaves and steaming them to perfection in leaves.

Hau Tree Beachfront Cafe at Mauna Kea Resort
62-100 Mauna Kea Beach Dr., Waimea; 808-882-5707
Experience luxury resort vibes at this super wide swath of white sand beach for a fraction of the usual price: If you pay to park you get a day­long beach pass. Enjoy a cocktail at Hau Tree at sunset and swim and body surf in warm waters.

Pololu & Makapala Store
52-4659 Akoni Pule Hwy, Kapaau
Park at the end of the road in Kona in one of a few spots next to a lone birdwatcher. Move through an electric blue vista as grand as the Napali Coast through red clay and jungle to an un­inhabited river­mouth. There, you will find massive driftwood swings that lead to a dangerous beach backed by stunning cliffs. Depleted from sun and hike, treat yourself to the comforts of Makapala Store’s riotously colored open air hut where the jungle creeps in and hikers order delicious smoothies, grandma-style Mexican tamales, and plates of rice and beans.

Hawaii Classic­ South Kona Fruit Stand 
84-4770 Mamalahoa Hwy, Honaunau; 808-328-8547
If you’re staying in a remote B&B of South Kona, stock up on local fruit and treats.

Puako Beach­
Puako Beach Dr., Puako
If you’re staying on the North Kohala Coast, get up early to snorkel with giant sea turtles at this local and residential neighborhood beach. Be prepared for rocks but don’t worry if you forget water or snacks because there is a great neighborhood store called Puako Market that has everything you need.

Red Water Cafe
65-1299 Kawaihae Rd., Waimea; 808-885-9299
If you decide to head upcountry to Waimea for the stunning sunsets, don't forget a light sweater. Cooler temperatures at night call for massive bowls of steaming miso soup packed with local organic vegetables and served in handcrafted ceramic bowls.


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Tiny Atlas Quarterly is a lifestyle travel magazine filled with rich, beautiful stories about places far and wide. Follow the team on Instagram @tinyatlasquarterly. Tiny Atlas Quarterly travels for the experiences.

We make every effort to ensure the information in our articles is accurate at the time of publication. But the world moves fast, and even we double-check important details before hitting the road.