Oh, my Green Postcard friends, you are in for a treat. If you’ve been wanting to visit Hawaii, but have been frustrated with high prices and chain hotels, then please meet Anitra Pickett, who owns and manages the one-year-old Lova Lava Land Eco-Resort with her husband, Trond Borg. The resort is 3 acres on the south part of the Big Island, 1500 feet up the Mauna Loa volcano, in the rural town of Ocean View.
Lova Lava Land is not your typical Hawaii destination. For starters, this resort built on an old lava field offers off-the-grid accommodation in a tricked-out yurt or two renovated Volkswagen camper vans. And once you’ve taken a look at their rate sheet (come back tomorrow!) you’ll know you’ve left the Hawaiian high-rise norm.
Anitra explains that they are completely powered by their bank of solar panels, though they have plans to put in a wind generator some time in the future. All of their panels and the supporting electrical station are housed in a salvaged VW. Rufus the Rainbow Bus, as he’s known at Lova Lava Land, powers the entire resort.
“We had no previous experience or knowledge of electricity or solar power before last year and have proved that anyone with a ‘will to do it’ and the ability to research and read on their own is capable of something like this,” Anitra says. “We are also proud that despite coming from a pampered big city life, we are able to live in comfort, with all our needs met, with an off-grid power system!”
To supplement Rufus’s solar juice, Lova Lava Land uses solar walkway lights at night and an umbrella over the common area that has solar lighting to brighten up night-time get-togethers. Each unit also has a solar lantern and a hand-cranked flashlight to help guests get around in the dark. “These flashlights work wonderfully because they do not take batteries and allow each person to ‘work’ for their own light – truly creating a new understanding of ‘providing your own power,’” Anitra says.
All water for their communal kitchen and hand-built outdoor shower comes from their own catchment system, and grey-water is used for irrigation for the wild guava trees on the land that guests can pick from at will. Anitra says this means their use of non-toxic cleaning supplies is non-negotiable.
Lova Lava Land is a recycled resort at its very heart, and the reborn VW camper buses are just the beginning. The crates the yurt was delivered in became the yurt’s closet and the communal kitchen’s counters. Furniture was created from the VW’s seats or refurbished from the local swap meet. Fallen ohia branches become furniture, décor, and signs. Their “Lova Da Compost” system teaches guests how to create compost out of their kitchen trash. (They also encourage guests to make sure those kitchen scraps are local by giving everyone a “Lova Lava Land Guide” with info on neighboring farmers’ markets.)
Lova Lava Land has plenty of pedagogical panache, offering guided and self-guided tours of all their green systems. (Those who can’t get to Lova Lava Land in person can learn from their online “How We Did It” section as well.) They get together with their neighbors for eco-brainstorms and hope to start community teaching events soon. They are members of Malama Punaluu, a local organization that won a big environmental victory recently by keeping a developer off one of the nearby black-sand beaches, home to green sea turtles.
Anitra has big plans for the one-year-old resort’s future. First of all, they’d like to start on-site organic gardening. They are also working on plans for a hot tub built out of stone from the site and heated without electricity. Then there’s the bicycle-powered washing machine they are developing. And don’t forget the main house they’re planning on building based on “earthship” principles, using recycled materials and garbage like tires and wine bottles. After all that building and tinkering, they want to do a full carbon emissions audit of the resort, to be able to show guests how much carbon Lova Lava Land is emitting and offsetting.
Whew. I’m tired (but inspired) just thinking about all that work. Come back tomorrow for rates and suggestions from Anitra on how to spend your time at Lova Lava.