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Frank’s Big Island Travel Hints #4: Waikoloa to Pololu Valley
by Frank Burgess, brought to you by Tour Guide Hawaii

Tour Guide Hawaii is proud to announce the release of their new iPhone and iPod Touch App available at iTunes…this App will help you plan your trip to Hawaii, help you decide what you want to see, how you want to see it and help you get there with GPS, interactive maps and on-board driving instructions.  The Tour Guide App presents hours of interesting videos and information about places of historical, cultural and recreational interest, giving you a sense of the people, the natural history and the unique specialness of each destination.  The information is so comprehensive and complete they even tell you where all the public restrooms are!  What else will Tour Guide help you find?  Let’s look at a trip north from Waikoloa along the Hawaii Belt Road to incomparable Pololu Valley…Tour Guide will not only help you find many amazing sights along the way, it will tell you all about them, what to take and what to expect.

Today’s hints cover the area from  the Waikoloa Beach Resorts to Pololu Valley along the gorgeous Hamakua Coast.  Driving north on the highway there several fantastic places to stop and explore, but there is also a lot of lovely, open countryside for several miles, so enjoy the panoramic views. Your Tour Guide download from iTunes will give you more detailed information about this area.

Driving north past the Waikoloa Beach resorts, the next turn off will take you to the Mauna Lani Resorts. This area has 5 Star to 5 Diamond resorts. It also has some great petroglyph fields near the Orchid at Mauna Lani Resort and some relaxing beaches which are open to the public. Tour Guide gives you turn-be-turn directions to find these wonders easily. The Shops at Mauna Lani offers high end shopping and fine dining.

Another 10 minutes north, on Hwy 19, brings us to a three-way intersection where you’ll make a left turn (north) onto hwy 270 and drive along the Kohala Coast. This northern tip of the island is less populated and less traveled. The first left turn takes you to Pu’ukohola Heiau and Spencer Beach Park.

Pu’ukohola National Historic Park is a large reconstructed heiau (a Hawaiian temple site) with a visitor center and self-guided tour. Your Tour Guide will have all the history and stories about this legendary spot.

Spencer Beach Park is a favorite family beach with lots of facilities. Camping is available, by permit only, and the “no wave” sandy beach is great for young children. It is also a fabulous snorkel spot if you have your own equipment. Tour Guide will tell you about where to get camping permits, snorkel rentals and all the facilities that are available here.

As we continue driving north on Hwy 270, there are several smaller parks along the way. Tour Guide will tell you about all of them and their facilities. For history buffs, Lapahkahi State Park is a must stop. This re-creation of an ancient Hawaiian village is fascinating and free. Here you can see how a typical village was laid out and the huts that were used for housing. Whale watching from shore, during the winter months, is also very popular.


Super Tip: When driving in less populated areas, where there are less stores and restaurants, you will save money and frustration by bringing your own food and water. In these locations, even when you do find a store or diner, the items may cost much more. In addition, hours at gas stations vary by day of the week and time of year. It is wise to never let your gas tank get under half-full here. It is also wise to avail yourself of Public restrooms where you find them. Many of the restrooms in the smaller parks have been closed since the earthquake of 2006 and there are none available past the King Kamehameha Statue in the little town of Kapa’au.

Driving just a few minutes farther north, you’ll come to the town of Hawi (pronounced Haw VEE). A cute town with art galleries, souvenir stores, snacks shops and restaurants
(but not much more), Hawi is old Hawaii personified. Just a few minutes northbound brings you to the famous King Kamehameha statue in the small town of Kapa’au (kah pah OW). This is the birthplace of the storied first king to unite all the Hawaiian Islands under one rule. Tour Guide will present tons of info about the shops and restaurants in Hawi and Kapa’au, as well as about King Kamehameha himself.

Drive about 10 more minutes, to the end of the road, to view the Pololu Valley, one of Hawaii’s great scenic wonders. From the parking lot at the end of the road you can get some gorgeous photos. If you’re up for some hiking, the trail down to the valley floor is about a 20 minute hike. Bring plenty of water because the hike back up is a hot 45 minutes. Tour Guide will give you more info about what to bring, what to wear and what to expect in the valley itself.

To see the new iPhone/iPod Touch App, please visit http://www.tourguidehawaii.com/iphone.html.  The best of Tour Guide Hawaii’s free content about traveling to, and exploring, the Big island, can be found here.  For more information on traveling to Hawaii in general and on touring the Big Island in particular, please also visit www.tourguidehawaii.com and www.tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com.

Copyright 2009
by Frank Burgess; photography copyright 2009 by Donald B. MacGowan. All rights reserved.

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