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“Surprising sunset view”
Review of Friends of NELHA

Friends of NELHA
Ranked #48 of 133 things to do in Kailua-Kona
Certificate of Excellence
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Owner description: See the future now with Friends of NELHA and experience a fascinating tour of Hawaii Ocean Science Technology Park near Kailua-Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii. FON tours showcase the development of renewable energy resources and uses of cold deep seawater and warm surface seawater in innovative aquaculture and mariculture activities and much more. This is a one-of-kind science and technology site in the world, an exciting learning experience and a must-see stop on the Big Island. FON offers public presentations and tours of selected NELHA energy and aquaculture projects Monday through Friday at 10 am, excluding holidays. Reservations are required for Friday's Grand Tour. Friends of NELHA (Natural Energy Laboratory Hawaii Authority) is a nonprofit organization providing education and outreach in support of sustainable agriculture and renewable energy.
Olathe, KS
Level 6 Contributor
263 reviews
135 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 67 helpful votes
“Surprising sunset view”
Reviewed October 13, 2012

While we didn't tour the actual energy lab, we stumbled across this location through information in a great guide book. The book listed some of the top sunset viewing locations on Hawaii. The beach that this facility sits on was listed as one of the top locations. From what we saw, it wasn't really much of a swimming beach due to the rock, but there were picnic areas and many others were enjoying the view as well. The beach is called Wawaloli beach. You get to it by driving down the energy lab's road. This was one of our best sunset views on our trip.

Visited September 2012
Helpful?
Thank Leslie F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Hawaii
Level 2 Contributor
4 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Great tour for families, foodies, and science buffs”
Reviewed October 1, 2012

The grand tour (on Fridays) of NELHA, near the Kona airport, is awesome! We learned all about OTEC (ocean thermal energy conversion), completely clean energy that could be Hawaii's energy future. We also got to visit the Kona Kampachi fish farm and learn about their sustainable practices, this even included a tasting. Last we visited the abalone farm for a short tour and tasting. In all the tour was about 2.5 hours, super engaging and interesting, I really learned so much. This would be great for kids over 8 years old.

Visited August 2012
Helpful?
1 Thank vanve100
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Desert Hot Springs, California
Level 4 Contributor
37 reviews
15 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
“Natural Energy Lab, A great experience in Kona”
Reviewed September 6, 2012

We found out about the Natural Energy Lab Hawaii Authority (NELHA) by reading Vanve's review. We had no idea we could visit this fascinating center for developing solar and deep ocean technology. There was an hour and a half lecture with video (trust me, it was so interesting I wasn't ready for it to end). Then we opted for an optional tour of the abalone farm. We went on Wednesday, so couldn't take the Grand Tour that is given on Fridays.

Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) is funded by the Dept of Defense in support of the green Navy. They want to create fuel (hydrogen) at sea, which seems a good idea in case there's another oil embargo. They are using the deep ocean cold water in aquaculture, maintaing exact temperature control to grow Abalone (the abalone farm featured a tasting), fish, and seaweed and algae to feed them. One company is even bottling the clean deep water (must be desalinated?) and shipping it worldwide. they are running hoses full of cold water through the soil to grow grapes. We even got to munch one.

They are growing a red alga that produces Astaxanthin, which is used to color farm grown salmon. It is also found to be a super powerful carotenoid and antioxidant. Free books are available.

We loved it and think almost anybody would too. We were surprised that there wasn't a tour bus from the Norwegian cruise ship that was in port, but I guess this facility is not well known.

Visited September 2012
Helpful?
3 Thank voyager3388
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hilo, Hawaii, United States
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Very interesting, informative tour”
Reviewed September 3, 2012

My husband and I have lived on Hawaii Island for five years and have been meaning to take a tour of this Center for all five of those years. Today we were given a lovely tour by Guy Toyoma, the executive director of Friends of NELHA. Just to clarify, although Trip Advisor has this site listed as Hawaii Gateway Energy Center, it's more commonly known as Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA).

First of all, don't be intimidated by the "gated" look at the entrance. Just drive in and hang a left to the new and very nicely done Visitors Center. Before you go into the "park", the visitors center will orient you to all of the things the business tenants are working on. At the time of our visit, we were able to see the hydrogen fuel cell scooter they are developing for the tourism market. I want one! You can also view video and poster presentations in the visitors center.

Next, Guy took us on a tour of the park which includes a much wider range of activities than one would expect. For one thing, there is a lot of food production going on - abalone, shrimp, lobster, kampachi, seaweed and even spirulina (which is a food source but more often taken as a supplement). They are even in the process of testing grapes for wine production and just finished their 5th harvest (they can harvest three times a year, unlike more traditional grape climates where harvest is annual). We were particularly interested in the food components so Guy tailored our tour toward those business but there were many other things going on related to energy production, a very cool seahorse "farm", a small charter school and more.

I'm so glad that we went on this tour and wish we had done it years ago. The staff and volunteers we met were incredibly knowledgeable and showed much aloha. Highly recommended!

Visited September 2012
Helpful?
3 Thank Kim H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hawaii
Level 2 Contributor
4 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“NELHA tour super informative and fun!”
Reviewed August 25, 2012

The grand tour (on Fridays) of NELHA, near the Kona airport, is awesome! We learned all about OTEC (ocean thermal energy conversion), completely clean energy that could be Hawaii's energy future. We also got to visit the Kona Kampachi fish farm and learn about their sustainable practices, this even included a tasting. Last we visited the abalone farm for a short tour and tasting. In all the tour was about 2.5 hours, super engaging and interesting, I really learned so much. This would be great for kids over 8 years old.

Visited August 2012
Helpful?
6 Thank vanve100
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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