Last year, after spending 5 blissful days on the beautiful island of Maui, my husband and I boarded the Mokulele Express, and for one hour, we lazily dreamed of what awaited us on the Big Island of Hawaii.
You see…on our Hawaiian vacation, we wanted to experience something other than a typical hotel room. We searched for something unlike anything we’ve experienced before, and so may I introduce…the enchanting Bali Tree Cottage in Captain Cook, Hawaii.
A 12 year labor of love for long time residents, Ron and Karen Repan, the delightful Bali Tree Cottage combines rustic charm with modern conveniences blending the best of outdoor with indoor. A true glamping experience!
Arriving at 4:00pm, Karen met us at the entrance of the driveway leading to the cottage. Her hospitality was genuine and abundant! After settling into our new accommodations, Karen suggested we take a less than two minute walk over to the gorgeous Manini Beach Park overlooking the Kealakekua Bay. She gave us a brief tour and history of the area (post to come!), and upon our return, the sound of relaxing Hawaiian music filled the air. Ron, Karen’s sweet husband, had turned on the cd player in the cottage and stood on the porch welcoming us with a warm smile and two glasses of vino!
We felt like family!
Staying in the house next door, the Repans always respected our privacy and were just a few steps away if we had any questions or just wanted to say hello.
Curious about the origin of this open air cottage, Ron and Karen entertained us with the story of how it came about.
“Ron loves beautiful things.” Karen said, smiling his way.
Never experiencing Bali but loving the architecture and feel of Thailand, Ron expected to see many outdoor Bali-style cottages or huts upon moving to Hawaii, but he couldn’t find a single one…and so began his 12 year labor of love.
Visiting several antique shops through the years, he invested in gorgeous Balinese hand carved teak panels with intricate details, many which were left in the jungle for possibly over a hundred years.
Ron spoke enthusiastically about the panel on the front of the cottage. “This panel is worth $12,000, but I got it for $6,000. It took five men to lift it. This wood doesn’t interest termites – it’s too heavy.”
Nothing was overlooked in the Bali Tree Cottage.
On the balcony you will find a full service kitchen stocked with just about everything you need. A refrigerator, freezer, oven, sink, towels and dishes were all available for our use. Just be sure to clean up after yourself…or the ants will! A variety of spices, sauces and condiments are available to add to any dish you make. There’s also a BBQ located in the garden that came in handy for preparing our steaks one evening.
When you’re ready to enjoy that meal, choose from the lovely outdoor garden dining area or cozy up indoors.
Relaxing is something that comes easily here. Rock back and forth into a peaceful state to the sound of the ocean waves on a comfortable rocking chair or on the garden hammock. Or enjoy some time reading, listening to the radio or just spending quality time with whoever you choose to in the thoughtfully eclectic living area (ficus tree included!)
A unique sleeping experience awaits you in this four-poster bed with net draping. Recycled metal for the roof keeps the raindrops and tree nuts at bay. A decorative double vanity opposite the bed has a basket full of soaps, sun screen and heavy duty bug repellent (which was greatly needed and appreciated!)
Double vanity in bedroom
From the bedroom, exit through large wooden doors and wash the day away in the refreshing outdoor shower. Complete with soap, shampoo, conditioner, lotions, towels and therapeutic rocks to stimulate the shiatsu zones in your feet, your main job is to simply enjoy. The sound of vibrant birdsong and rustling breezes comes into high definition as you become mesmerized by the truly special ambiance. A definite highlight of our stay!
Ron’s passion for surfing is also apparent in his large collection of surfboards inside the cottage and outside in the garden.
Being a former surfer himself, Ron would also buy broken surfboards off of their owners for around $20, and he would have them sign it for his collection. Some were designed by the best artists of the era while others are just beautiful to look at.
A special surfboard known as “Da Bomb” hangs from the bedroom ceiling. Hand built on a warship in the Gulf War, Ron found this surfboard in a shop in Hawaii. Just hanging in the surf shop for 5 years, Ron asked the store owner if he could buy it off of him, but the shop owner wasn’t receptive to his request, so Ron suggested they flip a coin.
Heads, the shop owner keeps it, and tails, Ron buys it off of him. It landed on tails.
Although not shown here, a female on the back of the board is a copy of the one on the nose of the B-29 “Enola Gay.”
The outside of the cottage is as intricate and methodically thought out as the inside!
Step out of the cottage and into a wonderland filled with everything to delight the senses! Lose track of time by simply getting lost in the lush garden and decorative elements including paper lanterns, tiki torches, stringed lights and surf boards.
Various diverse plants decorate the landscape making you feel worlds away.
“Let me show you the sensitivity plant.” On a table was what looked like an everyday fern. “Now touch the leaves.” I did as Ron instructed, and the leaflets folded in as if protecting themselves from predators.
The next plant Ron showed me had a more threatening way of protecting itself. It was called the serenity plant. Coming out of the trunk were dozens of razor sharp thorns. “Touch the point very softly.” And as I suspected, this plant was no joke.
A large ficus tree is an integral part of the cottage. Intertwining in and out of the living room, you truly feel like you are camping in the jungle.
We quickly learned that combining both the indoors and outdoors meant that we would be sharing our lodging with visitors of all kinds.
“Now don’t be afraid. That’s only a kane spider. They’re gentle and shy…and they don’t bite.”
I stared at this thin, branch-like spider that fell on the table right in front of me. Ron ensured me that I could pick it up and it wouldn’t harm me. “It’s like holding a tarantula.”
These experiences had become an expected part of our lives for 3 fun-filled days here at the cottage, and we started to look forward to meeting our new four and six-legged friends (minus the mosquitoes!)
There were so many things I loved about our stay at the Bali Tree Cottage. From the vibrant birdsong greeting us in the morning, to the outdoor shower experience, to the unique ambiance of the cottage, to the simple act of relaxing.
The list can go on forever, but what I enjoyed most was the warm hospitality from our wonderful hosts, Karen and Ron, who made us feel like family and ensured we had a memorable time. Whether it be enjoying each others company while watching a glorious sunset…or sharing stories…or Ron supplying me with treats for my solo walk to the nearby Keii beach…or bringing us delicious coffee one morning while we were enjoying an early morning sunrise…or Karen stopping by to say “Good Morning” with her darling dog Chloe and offering recommendations on places to visit. These heartwarming acts of kindness played a large part in shaping our trip into the wonderful experience that we will cherish forever.
Upon asking Karen what she thinks draws travelers to the Bali Tree Cottage and Kealakekua Bay year after year, she replied,
As to our success with Airbnb, I think the fact that we are here onsite to check people in and help them with any questions really helps. I don’t know of any other vacation rentals in the bay that have onsite owners. Also, because of all our great reviews, we are #1 to come up on site!! We really want to share the Aloha of this Island!
If staying in an open air, Balinese style cottage experience in beautiful Captain Cook, Hawaii is something that sounds like fun (and it is!), check out this jewel on Airbnb.com, and contact Karen and Ron to book your stay!
I guarantee it’ll be an experience you’ll cherish forever!