How to Make Coconut Haupia and Chocolate Pie

Coconut pudding, or haupia as it is known in the islands, is a classic recipe that appears in many different forms around the islands. One use is in a classic pie that combines a layer of haupia and a layer of chocolate filling in one pie. The following link is to a recipe you must try if you are planning on making this classic pie. There is a lot of argument between aunties on the island on the best type of coconut milk to use with many saying that frozen coconut milk is the only one that you should use. Also, while most recipes use cornstarch as thickener, there are many who swear that arrowroot is the best choice. Arrowroot, for those who don’t know, is basically the same plant as taro and has been grown in the American south, particularly Louisiana and used as a thickener. So arrowroot is probably a bit more “traditional” than using corn starch. As for the type of coconut milk, we actually did a test and made haupia from both frozen and canned milks of various varieties. The biggest difference actually is based on the fat content of the milk you are using. The creamiest haupia is actually made with a very high fat content coconut milk product, such as a canned coconut cream.

Volcano Garden Arts Provides Unique Food and Art

Volcano Garden Arts, owned by local artist Ira Ono, provides visitors with access to the work of many of Volcano’s artists and unique gift items. The Cafe also provides award winning vegetarian and vegan food options served in the cafe or the garden. When you drop by for the food or art, mention that you are a guest at Hale KupuKupu. Our guest services manager is often working in the gallery and would love to hear how you are enjoying your stay. In Hawaiian, the word “ono” means good and the cafe and gallery certainly live up to the owner’s name–they are very ono.

Shower in the Rainforest

Guests staying at Hale KupuKupu can have the unique experience of showing outside in the Rainforest with the Hale’s outdoor surfboard shower. The shower was installed early in 2017 and uses a 9′ longboard that one of the neighbors in Volcano used to use regularly to surf around the Big Island. After cleaning the wax off of the board, we stenciled the Polynesian “tattoo” design onto the board and installed plumbing to provide hot and cold water. The privacy and secluded nature of the hale make the shower private for guests even though it is located in the back yard. And yes we use it regularly when we are in Hawaii and we have had guests regularly comment on how much they enjoyed the shower in the yard.

Hale Features Art of John Kelly

The artwork in Hale KupuKupu was chosen specifically because each piece features something significant about Hawaii and its culture. The pictures in the living room, for example, are prints of illustrations done by artist John Kelly for menu covers in the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Honolulu in the 1920s. Kelly was originally from Oakland, California. He trained in San Francisco and worked as an illustrator for the San Francisco Examiner before heading to Hawaii with his wife in 1923. He originally planned to work for an advertising agency there for a few years before returning to the mainland. He fell in love with the islands and never left. His work focused primarily on figures of native Hawaiians. He authored and illustrated two books, “Etchings and Drawings of Hawaiians” in 1943, and “The Hula as Seen in Hawaii” in 1955.

Plan Ahead for the Merrie Monarch Festival

Hale KupuKupu still has openings available for the first part of the 2018 Merrie Monach Festival. The hale is currently reserved only from April 5 to 7, the actual days of the hula competition and the paid events. If you are planning to attend this important Hula Festival you must plan far in advance for tickets. Tickets can only be reserved by filling out a request form available from the festival website, and making your request by mail. The best way to get tickets if you live on the mainland is to have your request form filled out in advance, and mail the request immediately on December 1. We recommend sending your request by express mail if you want any chance of getting tickets. The festival will not accept any request postmarked prior to December 1. Reservations fill up quickly for that week of April at hotels, B&Bs and vacation rentals so make arrangements early. We suggest you book now if you want space at Hale KupuKupu for the early part of the festival.

For festival information:

It’s All About the Vanilla Bean

While on the Big Island visitors have the unique opportunity to visit the only farm growing commercial vanilla beans in the United States. Located on the Hamakua Coast the Hawaiian Vanilla Company was started by Jim Reddekopp and his family in 1998. Since then their business has been featured on the Food Network and the Travel and Discovery channels. They offer daily luncheon and farm-only tours daily. The tours sell out quickly and reservations need to be made in advance. To find out more, use one of the links below.


Why Not Kona Coffee?

While it is the best know, Kona is not the only region on the Big Island, or the Hawaiian Islands in general, that grows coffee commercially. Kona is the oldest growing region on the Big Island. Coffee plants were brought there in 1828 by the missionary Samuel Ruggles. In 1982, Herman Weidemann introduced the Typica variety of coffee plant from Guatemala. This plant performed so much better than the plants already introduced, and is now known as Kona Typica on the island. In addition to Kona, there are five other coffee growing regions on the Big Island alone. Each region has unique climate and soil characteristics that affect the final coffee. The Ka’u coffee region, located at the southern part of the Big Island, is most like the Central American coffees in flavor and characteristics. It has been slowly growing in popularity with locals and you can often find locals extolling its virtues over Kona coffee. Puna district has started to produce some excellent coffees as well. Coffee plants in that region are often grown directly in lava, or slightly above the lava flows creating a distinctly acidic and rich dimension to the coffee.

At Hale KupuKupu, we try to feature products that are local. Because of that, we feature coffee from the Hilo Coffee Mill, located about halfway between Hilo and Volcano. Hilo Coffee Mill was founded specifically to help local small coffee growers bring their products to market. They offer tours that give visitors a great deal of information on coffee, Hawaiian Coffee and the local coffee from the regions closest to Volcano..

Questions You Might be Afraid to Ask

Visitors to Hawaii, particularly those from the mainland United States, are often confronted by unique Hawaiian customs that they are embarrassed to ask locals about—they don’t want to seem ignorant or admit that the custom is a bit foreign to them. Hawaii Magazine did a great story answering what the editors felt were the 10 most common questions about Hawaii that visitors were uncomfortable asking about and providing the answers. Take some time to read it and you will find all about slippahs, why everything is so expensive along with other important information.

Volcano Village Artists Hui Open Studio Event

The Volcano Village Artists Hui is a group of working artists in Volcano, Hawaii. All of the Hui artists have works that have been included in major collections, or have won awards in their chosen media. Their work is diverse, but shares an awareness of the unique experience of living on the Big Island. Every November over the Thanksgiving weekend, the artists open their studios for a public event to show their latest works. The studio event runs November 24, 25 and from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. each day. For information on the artists and the studio locations, visit

Kona Coffee Festival

From November 3 to 13 you can participate in the annual Kona Coffee Festival, the oldest food festival in Hawaii. The festival offers tastings, and hands-on cultural events help tell the story of Kona’s rich coffee history. You can see the full list of events at