In Praise of Puakea

puakea ranch review

[trip style = sun + food]

Editor's Note: Photos below.

There's a grocery store down the road from Puakea Rancha stylish, salt-of-the-earth escape on the Island of Hawaiibut you won't peruse the aisles more than once because the farm-stay's fertile grounds turn every day into gourmet. 

Set on a 33-acre plot gently cascading down the northwestern tip of Hawaii's biggest isle, Puakea Ranch begs you to live off the land. The "house" chickens lay eggs daily; fruit trees rise at every turn; and the garden's produce is fit for a chef. And then there's Angus, the bandana-wearing pup-come-site-savant who is keen to show off his idyllic habitat {especially when the task relates to food}. 

With Angus as our guide, we found many of the fruit trees and lived off the landan inclusion when you stay in any of the four restored 1940s cottages situated in quiet corners of the ranch. Each day, when the sun came up, we'd brew Kona coffee, throw on the same clothes as the day beforethe place is cool but not pretentiousand saunter down to the chicken coop to see what how many eggs had hatched.

Thankfully, Blue Styler was so distracted by his new BFF, Angus, we'd swipe the eggs before he could reach {and crack} them, and place them into our basket, filled with papaya, coconut, limes and mangoes we gathered in the brief walk from our cottage to the coop. This was breakfast along with some crusty bread from the nearby town of Hawi.  

As a traveler and writer who relishes in places where chic meets unique and au courant meets authentic, Puakea has been on my radar since I started Trip Styler in 2009. Due to its unique grounds and well-groomed guest experience, it's the kind of stay that makes you want to break out into song à la Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music.

"I developed Puakea because I wanted an honest-to-goodness place to vacation with attention to detail; when I couldn't find it, I developed it," Christie, Puakea's owner and visionary told me over coffee. "At first, the cottages were deemed tear-downs," she recalled, which is hard to believe given they each look like they could occupy the cover of any leading travel magazine. Three years later, she proved that derelict should not be overlooked: Each bungalow now holds court on the State's Historic Register, a stud-to-style undertaking taking three years of planning and development, as well as a hands-on building crew who lived onsite in safari tents. 

To say Puakea is labor of love is an understatement. Original hardwood floors grace each abode. And the shingles sheltering each cottage? They were taken off, re-stained and hung on clotheslines to dry before being slotted back into place. Every window, piece of wood, and stud has a story, including the boot-kick in the doorway of Cowboy House, an indentation used by the house's original inhabitants to remove the dirt from their boots after a long day in the fields.

Speaking of cowboys, another hint at the ranch's history is the Architectural Digest-gorgeous bathhouses outside of every stay. Once housing tubs for the wranglers and workers to soak in after a hard day on the range, the owner resurrected the washhouses with wow-factor fixtures such as an antique copper soaking tub for two or a Japanese furo bath, and wood-slab counters.

When you're not making friends with the pigs and her piglets, wondering if you're in a dream as white horses gallop past you, or picking mangoes from the trees, there's the lava rock-rimmed swimming ponds with leafy views peering over the Pacific. Taking a dip is the perfect way to end the day before you head back to the garden to pick up some swiss chard and tomatoes to toast your gourmet vacay. Can I get an Amen? 

Details
+Yoshi's House: Two bedrooms {sleeps six} with its own swimming pond + wraparound lanai overlooking the ocean.
+Cowboy House: Three bedrooms {sleeps six} with private hot tub + shared swimming pond.
+James' Cottage: Large studio-suite {sleeps two} with private hot tub + shared swimming pond.
+Miles Away: Two bedrooms {sleeps four} with private dipping pool.
-->Included in each cottage: Washer/Dryer, kitchens, BBQs; as well use of pools, fruit from trees, veggies from garden, eggs from coop, and toys from the Toy Box room.

 The welcoming committee 

The welcoming committee 

 The communal swimming pond

The communal swimming pond

 The tree-lined path to Yoshi's House

The tree-lined path to Yoshi's House

 Yoshi's House entry {where we stayed}

Yoshi's House entry {where we stayed}

 Yoshi's House interior

Yoshi's House interior

 Checking out the just-picked lime plucked from a tree outside our cottage

Checking out the just-picked lime plucked from a tree outside our cottage

 Heading out to pick veggies from the garden

Heading out to pick veggies from the garden

 The garden

The garden

 Photoshoot-ready tree

Photoshoot-ready tree

 Blue Styler meeting one of the little chicks

Blue Styler meeting one of the little chicks

 Even the chick and chicken coop is beautiful

Even the chick and chicken coop is beautiful

 Toy Box playroom 

Toy Box playroom 

 Blue Styler playing with a vintage Tonka dump truck {Mr. Trip Styler used to have one...!} from the Toy Box

Blue Styler playing with a vintage Tonka dump truck {Mr. Trip Styler used to have one...!} from the Toy Box

 Our  familia  hanging in Puakea's upcountry Hawaiian paradise 

Our familia hanging in Puakea's upcountry Hawaiian paradise 

[photos by @tripstyler, taken while as a guest of the rancha place I'll return to yearly. Mark my words.]