Opaliuli Historic Estate would have to be the grandest estate on the Big Island. Formerly a Plantation owners mansion, and dating back to 1898, this 10 acre estate (now a small piece of the thousands of acres it had originally) has been lovingly restored and is in immaculate condition. The owner Gisella, rents out a small cottage on the estate which is just beautiful with a wonderful pool too.
As you walk into the colonial style cottage, you have a central living & dining area and a good sized kitchen - with everything you could want. Gisella has ensured all the basics are there if you want to cook (ie oils, vinegar, tea etc) and all the appliances, pots and pans and dinnerware you need. There is also a full sized fridge. Off the main room, there is a bedroom on each side with a beautiful queen sized bed, armoire, chairs etc. And off each bedroom is a lovely bathroom with a separate toilet, hanging nook, and Italian marble-tiled shower. There is also a variety of amenities in the bathroom ie bug spray etc.
The interior of the cottage is all white with lovely dark wood and rattan furniture in keeping with the period.
When we arrived, all the vases were full of amazing flowers from the garden - it looked spectacular. This cottage has fans in all rooms (no air con) but the fans are all you need as it's lovely to enjoy the warm climate but have enough moving air to keep you cool. It's fantastic to sit on the deck of the cottage and admire the beautiful grounds and watch the antics of the wild chickens in the yard - and the super cute bright green geckos who enjoyed licking the small pieces of papaya we left on the railing of the deck! (Gisella's suggestion! And don't throw the skin of your papaya away as the chickens love to eat that too so each morning I gathered quite a crowd around me as I tossed them small pieces of papaya skin).
The pool is wonderful - a superb temperature and it's a salt water pool so doesn't have any chlorine smell - and it's super private and just amazing to swim in it and admire the spectacular jungle around you.
At night, things really come to life - and there is a buzz from all the wildlife around. I didn't find the frogs croaking to be any bother at all - in fact sleeping on a super comfortable bed, with lovely linens and just a sheet draped over me with a fan above moving the air to keep things cool, and listening to the cacophony of sound from outside was just wonderful. In fact we've never slept so well in our lives!
You definitely need a car to stay here but it is less than a mile to the shops at Keaau where this a local supermarket to get any supplies you need. We parked our car near the front of the main house and there is a path along the back of the house to the cottage. It can be a little dark at night but a phone with a flashlight app is all you need! There is a laundry underneat the main house with a large washer and dryer so it's easy if you need to do any laundry. The wifi was also easy to connect to and fast - that was important for us!
In terms of the location, this is an ideal spot to stay if you plan visiting the volcano - which is a must do on the Big Island - and truly worth it. It was just a few miles up the road. It's also only about 10 mins to the airport and also into Hilo. We tried a local Thai restaurant in Keaau one evening (Spoonful Restaurant) but wouldn't recommend that, but we did enjoy a restaurant in Pahoa, the next town from Keaau called Kaleo's. (See Trip Advisor review of that http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g60603-d1372483-r310842771-Kaleo_s_Bar_Grill-Pahoa_Island_of_Hawaii_Hawaii.html#REVIEWS ). We also tried a couple of restaurants in Hilo - enjoying the Hilo Bay Cafe. We did some drives from Keeau including across the island to the best beach called Hapuna Beach - and that was a good day out - and driving around the coast road north of Hilo around the other side is a lovely drive.
This side of the island is definitely the most beautiful as the other side is very volcanic and much drier. On the Hilo side you have a lot of lush jungle (except the volcanic sites of course) and there is no better place to enjoy that amazing lush jungle than at Opaliuli Estate. Of course with dense jungle, it means you have lots of rain and it generally rained every day, but usually it's just warm passing showers and we didn't find it a problem at all.
We feel very lucky to have found this place - and to have met Gisella. In fact she did offer to show us the main house which was just amazing. Over 15 years, she has painstakingly restored this incredible house - it really needs to be seen to be believed. All the furniture is in keeping with the period (and was all imported from overseas) and all the bathrooms have been tiled in the most beautiful Italian marble. So if you get a chance to see inside the house, you will certainly appreciate the love and care that has gone into this restoration.
We would stay here again without hesitation - it's so relaxing and the very best place we could ever have found! Thank you Gisella - thanks for sharing your island paradise. It was just a wonderful experience for us!
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