BALI HOUSE–Hilo, Hawaii

Levels and Perspectives

By Deborah S. Nelson, Author/Publisher VRTG


BaliHouse Front-wThere is something almost mystical about journeying far away from home. Somehow, the further it is, the more exotic it seems to be. When I lived in a tourist town, I rarely visited the local sites except when out-of-town company arrived. While visiting far away places, many of us feel we must take in the local attractions as this may be our only chance to do so. The two-day flight to Hawaii, afforded me time to think. Reflecting on my life as an exotic journey, I became more aware of new perspectives.

Levels of Exotic

During the 13,000 mile roundtrip journey, exoticness level of my destination sky-rocketed. My anticipation increased with each leg of the journey — four flying segments in all, each about four to five hours in duration. Just what is this Bali House in Hawaii all about? I was intrigued. On the Island of Hawaii, the Bali House location presented an eclectic combination. This vacation home I was to review was originally imported from Bali! The photos looked intriguing, but as a reviewer of vacation rental homes, I know that photos do not tell the whole story. I have learned that there is much more to a place its initial appearance.

The Journey

Arriving at the airport in Hilo, I did not know what to expect. I would be meeting a new travel writer who arrived prior to me from Santa Barbara. Happy to be off the plane, I walked down to the baggage area housed in an outdoor-style airport similar to the airport in Santa Barbara and Puerto Plata, my most recent home airports! Feeling at home already, I instantly spotted my fellow travel writer comfortably seated on a round style bench in front of the luggage area. Emily previously secured our rental car. Off into the night we went to meet our hosts who would lead us to Bali House. I was so thankful she could meet me there. What a difference this welcome made.

Aloha — the Best Welcome

We met our hosts in Pahoa, 19.8 miles south of Hilo in perfect timing. Bali House Owners Tim and Iliahi donned us with leis and blessed us with the word Aloha, loosely meaning “I give you my breath.” A beautiful word, Aloha sounded and felt warm and loving beyond any welcome I have received while reviewing vacation homes. I was ready to be home.

As we drove 13.6 more miles down curvy rural roads, the full moon glistened on tropical foliage forming womb-like canopies over the road. I was joyful for the moonlight. In my exhaustion, I had envisioned dark, menacing roads on the way to the Bali House in Hawaii. My feeling was beyond thankful that Tim and Illani had led us home.

Open Doors and Hawaiian Symbolism

Entrances to the Bali House are rich with symbolism and meaning. The door below leading to the house is over 100 years old. The Tori gates on both entrances greet guests with good luck, harmony, peace, and tranquility. The Bali House was blessed by a Kupuna and Kuha (sacred one and elderly one) with the traditional Hawaiian blessing. The round window over the entrance door is a Kali symbol etched in glass which means love and friendship. Intricately carved wooden doors imported from Japan gracing the face of Bali House are over 100 years old.

As we were winding down from jet lag, we spotted a turtle sitting on the floor of the Bali House. The turtle is a symbol of grounding and peace. Observing the symbols, I felt that I was on the path to peace and prosperity on this journey to Hawaii. Speaking a beautiful language of peace, the Hawaiian language is simple, beautiful, and symbolic. With 11 letters in the alphabet, many syllables represent a concept or meaning. Interpret the syllables of these long words and you may discover the word’s original meaning. Likewise, the Hula dance speaks a language of its own, telling stories of wisdom, love, and history of the rich culture using choreographed hand movements and symbols synchronized to music. Day by day, we stumbled upon rich symbols and art pieces in and around the Bali House and Cottage. These are all intended to surround those staying here with love, peace, and inspiration.

Bali Home Built with Love

Most people understand the expression of “cooking with love,” but have you ever thought about a home built with love? Sitting here writing, my senses are enveloped by the feeling of the love put into every detail of this home. Rich, warm woods from floors to walls to ceilings give the impression of a handmade house.

The home was originally built in 2004 by Justin Hilton, (a member of the Hilton Hotel Family); who imported the home from Bali in pieces. The sections were reassembled to create the main house, including the blue stones (which are black) used for the bathroom area, stairs, and front entryway to the Bali House. When Tim & Iliahi purchased the home in 2008, it was a fixer- upper. They expanded it with terraces, an additional bedroom, hot tubs and beautiful gardens including pineapple plants and papaya trees.

The cottage was added later to give their children a place to stay when they returned home on visits from college. Bali House is a generously sized two-bedroom, one bath home with two queen-sized beds, and a fold-out futon in the larger ground floor bedroom. If rented together, the Bali House and Cottage could sleep a group of six adults. If rented separately, the home can accommodate four persons and the cottage two persons in the queen-sized bed upstairs (or with one sleeping on a futon located on first floor).


As I write, I sit at a solid wood dining table on a level all of its own. This level includes one wall with a window overlooking the ocean, where you can catch a glimpse playful dolphins at times. I can see coconut treetops, ocean waves, and the horizon. This view refreshes my senses, and inspires my being. In fact, large gold block letters that spell “INSPIRE” are seen at the top level of the kitchen, and remind me to reach for higher levels of awareness. The bedroom in the front of the home is five steps up — the same level as the kitchen at the opposite end. In all, Bali House offers six varied levels. Each level provides a different view. It is amazing how many different perspectives you can see from each level. Each level presents its own stunning interior design. At the very top loft level I see all the other levels below.

At the top of the front door is a round window, etched with an Eastern symbol that means love and friendship. The entire home is filled with positive, peaceful images, signs, symbols, words and art pieces that are a constant reminder that I am an expression of God’s inspiration. The dining room overlooks the living room. At its central focus is a bigger-than-life bronze Buddha statue sitting on a ledge accompanied by pillows and incense for those who may wish to meditate or pray. Coming from a Christian perspective, I once thought these objects of beauty and honor were offensive. However, with a broader perspective seen from the level of agape or total love, I truly honor of any concept of God or a higher power as positive. With many levels and perspectives from which to view God, I find all acceptable and good. Most practices agree that God is love with the kind of love that knows no bounds.

Internal and ExternalKehena Beach, Hilo, Hawaii area

Coqui Frogs serenade us by singing bird-like symphonic songs during evening times. The gardens offer fresh fruits and fragrance of gardenias and other floral scents. The interior decorating is a stunning replication of the outdoor natural beauty. Rich brown wood tones and black lava stonework tones are reflected in the interior touches. The artful interior moves the senses through a visual journey to inspired elegance. All thoughout the house, blacks, creams and golds all are featured in rugs, pillows, drapes, wicker pieces, and ornamentals. Golden touches and vases of silk white orchids, two-toned white and black drapes blend with a yin/yang theme in this elegant “east meets west” décor!

Balance between the internal and external, and the yin and yang has been carefully crafted in this lovely natural setting. The terracing, the steps, and the doorways combined with the view of the ocean, also bring many intriguing levels to the grounds.

Levels of Perspectives

Levels … I love levels. With clearly defined levels, I understand exactly where I stand. When on the highest level, I see everything. As you walk into the Bali House, to the right is a raised bedroom. Walk up five stairs to gaze out the bedroom window, for a view of the ocean. The lanai with top quality wicker reclining chairs off this bedroom offers an even better view of the ocean and is a marvelous spot to hang out with a good book. The second bedroom is half underground, half above ground, with half lava walls meeting windows full of lush greenery rooted at ground level. This sanctuary-like room includes a desk, sitting area with two chairs and table, as well as a couch and coffee table shaped like a boat — a singular solid wood carving. Each bedroom has a TV (well-camouflaged), but I never turned any of them on, as it would interrupt the beautiful ambience of this home. With all the different levels, and perspectives, there seems to be hundreds of different views within this home, and it would take years to discover them all, but right now I am getting a bit hungry.

The Best Food Options

Because Bali House is located in a rural area, discovering the different food options becomes an exciting adventure and exploration of its own. The easiest option is a place called Kalani down the coastal road that runs in front of the home; a convenience type store with drinks, coffee, cookies, and sandwiches (only one and a half miles north of Bali House). The address is 12-6860 Kalapana- Kapoho Beach Road (Highway 137). They also serve meals three times a day at specific hours, which include natural and organically grown foods.

Since Bali House includes a sweet kitchen with a view of ocean, it’s fun to cook. The best option for groceries is located in Pahoa, called Malama, meaning to nurture and provide; located at 15-2664 Pahoa Village Road 96778. This is a lovely grocery store, stocked with fresh produce and many health conscious food products. You may also find an ATM machine in the store and a Long’s Drug Store across the street. Sunday mornings, you can find the farmer’s market in Pahoa from 6 am to 2 pm, where you can stock up on fresh exotic fruit to supplement your menu.

Cafe Pesto is an amazing restaurant in downtown Hilo across from the water. Take advantage of the free parking once you locate the downtown strip. The food at Cafe Pesto was well served and beautifully presented.

There are many interesting stores, a gallery, as well as the Palace Theatre in the downtown area. Rich original artwork adds to the ambience; a live singer made the place come alive. Enjoy a lunchor dinner at this restaurant which offers a large of assortment of fresh food fare. Hilo is a charming beach town only 30 miles away. Arriving back at the Bali House is a welcome relief from the hustle and bustle of town.

The Hawaiian Islands

Bali House and Cottage is located on the Island of Hawaii. Of the six main Islands of Hawaii, The “Big Island” is about 75 miles across as its widest point, a little over 4,000 square miles. Hilo is the largest city on this biggest island and hosts an International airport. Eleven different climate levels generate everything from lush tropical rain forests to arid desert, black sand beaches to snow-capped mountaintops. This area is the rainy side of the island and averages about 126 inches of rainfall per year. From Hilo, Bali House is located about 30 miles south, right on the coast.

The Beaches

I love beaches and I like to explore the qualities of various beaches. With several beaches in the area, Kehena Beach is the closest to the house. Cross the the street and descend a lava strewn path to a beautiful black sand beach. If you go in the morning, you are likely to encounter people without clothing practicing meditation and yoga. Climbing down the rocky slopes to sea level brings you closer to edge of the water and opens up a powerful level of meditative contemplation. If this atmosphere is not for you or your family, many other beach and swimming options are available in the area.

The Secret Beach

The Secret Beach is just a little past Kalani (the retreat center on the left). As you exit the gate from Bali House, turn left and go about two city blocks past Kalani to a turn-out on the right under a huge banyan tree. Take the well-worn trail down to this beach. This beach is also black sand, a little rough, but beautiful. With rocky shores, and powerful waves, use caution when swimming or surfing in this area. This beach area is known for its tide pools, but nothing can beat the raw, wild picturesque beauty of this beach.

Swimming Areas

A beautiful, large park called Isaac Hale Park is located seven and a half miles from the Bali House (13-101 Kalapana Kapoho Beach Road, Pahoa, HI 96778) and is the perfect family outing option.

You will find picnic tables, boat dock, and campground and playground equipment. The boat dock area is calm and protected with a shallow area for safe swimming. Many children are happily and safely dipping in the water. No lifeguard is present but if your children know basic swimming skills this is the safest area around for swimming. The area is blocked from the ocean waves with concrete piers, a paved bottom, and shallow areas, with little to no wave or tide pool action. This is an area with lots of boating, surfing, picnicking and swimming. You’ll find lots of family friendly people enjoying the day.

The Top of the WaterfallsAkaka Waterfalls, Hilo Hawaii, Bali House

Just north of Hilo, are the spectacular Akaka Waterfalls. Take Highway 130 North to Hilo, then over Highway 19 in Hilo, along the coast north for about 10 miles to Highway 220. Then turn left on 220 and follow the signs to Akaka Waterfalls. The walking tour costs $1. The parking is $5, but you may leave your car outside the park for free. The Waterfalls are a spectacular, seemingly alive example of levels. I love watching the water tumble down the side of steep mountainsides into peaceful pools of water below. Next the water gathers momentum, and tumbles down a set of rocks to a lower level of stillness. Always on the move, the water finds peaceful, resting points at lower and lower levels, letting gravity guide its flow.

Heights of Life

I compare the levels of the waterfalls to the levels at the Bali House. Depending on the level, you may experience a different beautiful vista. At the top level you can see all the levels below, which is the most expansive perspective of all. It takes effort to ascend to the highest level, but you find wisdom, peace, energy, and vision at these mountaintops. My travels require effort. Getting on a plane to travel thousands of miles is like climbing to the top of the mountain, as it takes an investment of time, effort, and resources.

Did Bali House take me to a higher level of peace, love, and flow? Did my travels guide me to an external place — a reflection of internal concepts inspired by ancient symbols of Eastern philosophy and Hawaiian culture? I believe so. And if you want to explore the heights of life and find flow within the Eternal on your next vacation, Bali House might just be the perfect place for you to find fresh perspectives.

Category Placement

We have placed Bali House in the category of Unusually Unique Vacation Rentals. However, it could also fall into Beach Area, Family Focused (with older children — too much precious artwork for toddlers), and Ultra Luxurious Vacation Rentals. The Bali House includes a washer/dryer combo both rentals include hot tubs, ocean views, gardens, hammocks, and other extras.

maui Tropical Island

RELATED LOCATIONS: for more vacation rental options in this general area, check the article recently written about Maui, Hawaii

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