Tourist guides say there is not much to see and to call Waiohinu a “town” is being generous. But there are incredible vistas from which to view the ocean when driving the hilly roads above this once thriving sugar cane community.
Its claim to fame is that Mark Twain once planted a Monkeypod tree there. Some people say a second or third generation offshoot of that tree remains standing; maybe so, but his dispatches written to the Sacramento Daily Union during his travels on the Big Island in 1866 are singing literature and reportage. Twain wrote:
“In this rainy spot trees and flowers flourish luxuriantly, and three of those trees- two mangoes and an orange- will live in my memory as the greenest, freshest and most beautiful I ever saw – and withal, the stateliest and most graceful. One of those mangoes stood in the middle of a large grassy yard, lord of the domain and incorruptible sentinel against the sunshine. When one passed within the compass of its broad arms and its impenetrable foliage he was safe from the pitiless glare of the sun – the protecting shade fell everywhere like a somber darkness.”
Twain was here, and maybe that’s why the Waiohinu bookstore lives on. I’ve posted a few photos of the bookstore. Its only open from 10 – 3 on Wednesdays, so there’s a short window to explore this relic. I think the photos speak of what this bookstore is not and what might be . . .