It’s notoriously windy in North Kohala. Trade winds reliably blast Hawai‘i Island’s northern coast and the smoothed hump of its oldest volcano.
It’s morning as I step out of an air-conditioned tour vehicle onto the dusty landscape. Tucked behind a row of windmills, on a 40-acre plot, leafy stems tower above me, shaking in the wind. Sugar. If you visited this spot 150 years ago, the scene would be similar (minus the windmills, of course): The relentless Hawaiian sun, a sparkling blue ocean backdrop and the trade winds coaxing cane leaves to emit rain sounds when there’s barely a cloud in the sky.