As a working coffee farm, Mango Sunset (73-4261 Mamalahoa Hwy./Hwy. 190, Kailua-Kona, 808/325-0909, $100-120) is definitely not for everyone. It’s up the road from the airport, so it’s convenient for an early-morning or late-night flight, and has excellent views of Kona below. Hans, the owner and grower, can provide an extensive history of the coffee industry. It has the feel of a hostel: The rooms are simple (all but one have private bathrooms) and without TV (there is a shared one in a small common area). The rooms are wheelchair-accessible. Laundry is available for $5 a load and WiFi is free. Hot breakfast utilizes mainly ingredients from the farm. The walls are paper thin, so it’s not a great place for someone who is a light sleeper.
Navigating the nearly vertical road up to Lilikoi Inn (75-5339C, Mamalahoa Hwy., Holualoa, 808/333-5539, $110-135) quickly alerts you that you’re not arriving to a run-of-the-mill place. The house is surrounded by lush greenery (papaya and banana trees as well as some coffee), and the views from the lanai are spectacular. You can see nearly all of Kailua as well as the ocean below—the view as you eat breakfast on the lanai. Owners Shai and Trina are friendly and talkative, so it feels like you’re staying at your friend’s house with a private entrance. The two upstairs rooms are smaller and less expensive. The downstairs rooms with queen-size sleigh beds—the Green Papaya and Plumeria rooms—are separated by a lounge area in the middle and can be rented out as one large space to accommodate a family. Food is where the Lilikoi Inn excels; Shai is a trained chef who once owned a restaurant in the San Francisco Bay Area and creates gourmet dishes using local ingredients. A separate kitchen is available for guest use. Additional amenities include cable television, a DVD player, WiFi, and a hot tub that will make you feel like you’re in the rainforest. It’s cooler in Holualoa than in Kailua.