The road unfurls like black ribbon through eucalyptus hills; I have the windows rolled down and the radio turned off. The only sounds heard are my soft tires hissing at the wet asphalt and the symphonic chirps of coqui tree frogs. The air is still damp after a brief rain shower, but the cloud cover has lassoed in the remaining heat of the surrendering sun: it’s the ideal kind of temperature, the kind you can’t feel on your skin. It’s the perfect time of day—found only in minute increments—and it begs to be replayed daily in the hills behind Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.
After I pull up to the front lobby at Holualoa Inn, I’m greeted by Noi (whose full name means (appropriately) heaven’s mist in the local Hawaiian language), and she’s carrying a tray with a cool towel and a glass of mango nectar. The sign in front of the mansion asks guests to remove their shoes, but I’ve already done so: the exquisite hardwood floor is flawless and pristine, and I feel guilty about even leaving my footprints on its surface. It’s like walking in an art museum, and one of its exhibits is the ground. But despite my careful reverence, I feel supremely at home here. I feel like more than a guest.