There are many wondrous, enigmatic and fascinating attractions on the Big Island of Hawaii, some better known than others, many out of the way and generally off the beaten track. Tour Guide Hawaii has produced an encyclopedic collection of the most up-to-date information, presented as short GPS-cued videos, in an app downloadable to iPhone and iPod Touch that covers the entire Big Island, highlighting the popular and the uncrowded, the famous and the secluded, the adventurous and the relaxing.
There is a reason that Akaka Falls rates as the most visited tourist sites on the island of Hawai’i. Simply put, the 424 foot, free falling plunge of clear water down a fern festooned cliff is not just an amazing and beautiful site, but there is a healing restfulness about the park that soaks into the visitor.
Leaving the parking lot, the loop trail immediately splits. Going left through along small streams past numerous small waterfalls, glens of fern, ginger, impatiens and stands of bamboo jungle, one reaches Akaka Falls in 5-8 minutes of ambling. If you turn right, the trail loops up and down some hills, through a wonderful rain forest of flowers, ferns, heliconia, palms and bamboo to 100 foot tall Kahuna Falls in about 8 minutes of walking; Akaka Falls is then reached by following the same path another 2-3 minutes and 5-8 minutes after that you are back at the parking lot.
When you first see the immense canyon carved through the rigid basalt by Kolekole Stream at Akaka Falls, you will understand why the Hawai’ian’s named this place as they did. In Hawai’ian , “Akaka”, means “a rent, split, chink, separation; to crack or split”. At twice the height of Niagara Falls, Akaka Falls, and the Kolekole Stream canyon, mark a truly remarkable rent in the lower skirts of Mauna Kea.
Of the many myths surrounding Akaka Falls, the most charming one tells of a stone located here called Pōhaku a Pele that, when struck by a branch of the Ohi’a tree, will call the sky to darken and rain to fall. Even without striking the rock, afternoons here tend to feature the nourishing rains that give life to the surrounding jungle, the streams and waterfalls. If you came to Hawaii craving chance to wander through a tropical rainforest, this may be the easiest place to quickly immerse yourself in one of Hawaii’s fantastic jungles.
Almost every town in Hawai’i has a “Waianuenue street”. From the Hawai’ian syllables “wai” meaning “fresh water” and “nue” meaning “colorful” or “dancing”, the word “waianuenue” refers to the dancing colors, or rainbow, seen in waterfalls. If you are lucky, and approach Akaka Falls on a sunny morning when the sun shines into to grotto, you may be blessed with seeing this lovely Hawai’ian icon, the waianuenue.
After leaving Akaka Falls State Park, Kolekole Stream flows through feral sugarcane fields, pastures and jungle gulches before finally pouring into the raw Pacific Ocean at Kolekole Beach Park. Definitely worth a visit, Kolekole Park is just off the Belt Highway, a bit north of the 14 mile marker. Turning off the highway surprisingly uphill, at the south end of the large suspension bridge, the Kolekole Beach Park road winds down to the river through a canyon choked with flowers, ferns and koa and palm trees.
When visiting Akaka Falls, be sure to save some time to explore the shops, galleries and cafes of Honomu on the way back to the highway. With its true “Old Hawaii” ambiance, it is unlike anywhere you’ve ever been before…guaranteed. Honomu, in Hawai’ian, means “silent bay” and one senses in this town that it is a quiet bastion of genuine relaxation, a half-forgotten island of healing solitude and welcome comfort.
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.
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All media copyright 2009 by Donald B. MacGowan. All rights reserved.