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No Time Machine Needed – Old Hawaii

Every so often, my wife Audrey and I like to turn back the clock and step into “Old Hawaii.” The days of simple living, basic luxuries, and good old local-style comfort food. It easy to do… we just hop in the car and drive about ten miles up mauka (toward the mountain), and the time-lapse begins. old photo of hawaii

As you head South from Kona on Mamalahoa Highway, where it turns into Hawaii Belt Road, you’ll start to see those classic coffee shacks dotting the path along the way. Enter into the town of Kainaliu, and you feel like your back in the 1950s on old main street Island style. It’s there you’ll find the Aloha Theater, built in 1932 and still in operation. Drive just a little further, and you will discover the real deal when it comes to traditional Hawaiian hospitality. Manago Hotel in Captain Cook is the place where true old Hawaii exists and has for more than one hundred years.

manago hotel

Yes, over 100 years and still going strong in spite of the current economic and social conditions. In that time, the hotel has grown from just two cots and a few futons to sixty-four full rooms and a great restaurant.  Founded by Kinzo and Osame Manago in March 1917 and then turned over to Harold and Nancy Manago in 1942. Forty-two years later, the third generation stepped up in 1984 with their youngest son Dwight and his wife Cheryl taking the reins. Today, their children and fourth generation are now being groomed to continue on.

old hotel in hawaii

views from big island

manago hotel big island

Wash Your Hands

Some of the things you might notice as you enter are the antiques and old pictures along the walls of the lobby displayed among the classic styled front desk. Manago was also a comfort station for World War II and a place to feed the troops.  Head around the corner toward the dining area and wash up.  As we are told to regularly wash our hands during this pandemic we live in, Manago has had an old porcelain sink at the dining room entrance for decades. A wonderful convenience for the regular patrons like local farmers who could wash the coffee farm dirt prior to eating.

manago hotel

ono grinds on the big island

Local Grinds – Soooo Ono…

You know you’re in a great place when it’s packed with local folks enjoying the traditional home-style cooking., The kind your grandma would cook. “Ono” is a Hawaiian word for delicious, and it best describes the meal you will receive. The sound of laughter and folks talking story fills the room. It’s like nothing has changed in the world when simple was the rule. A signature dish there is the legendary Pork Chops. They’re huge and cooked to perfection, tender and juicy. Most recently, Audrey enjoyed the classic Liver and Onions. Talk about home style.. she loved it. I’m a fish guy myself, and Manago is one of the few places you will find Butterfish and the prized Opakapaka. No matter what .. No Can Go Wrong. You will also get treated to a few local-style condiments like the pickled limu seaweed and homemade potato salad.

bacon with liver and onions

seaweed salad

While You’re There…

If by chance you go to Manago Hotel on a Sunday, you will find a wonderful farmers market directly across the street. It’s a great way to try samples of local products, buy the freshest produce direct from farmers and pick up some locally made crafts for momentums and gifts. Maybe, just maybe, you will fall so deep in love with Old Hawaii… You will want to live there too. That’s where I come in! Contact me for up-to-date Big Island Real Estate market info. I am happy to be of service. Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter @hawaiilifeed

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chris friese

March 4, 2021

Great article Ed, I enjoyed it and will check it out next time I am on the Big Island!
Aloha, Chris Friese Realtor with Hawaii Life.

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