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The pullout at Halona Kahakai is at very near the crest of the Holei Pali fault escarpment. In Hawaiian, “Pali” means cliff. The viscosity of flowing oceanic tholeiite basalt, the lava that built Kilauea, is such that when it cools, rarely do slopes exceed a 6% grade. Any landform that is much steeper, such as the Holei Pali as seen from Halona Kahakai and the Hilina Pali directly north, generally has to have formed by faulting or erosion. In this case, Holei Pali results from what are called “normal faults”. All of the lava plain spread before you down below the pali has simply broken off the main slope and dropped. There is an amazing amount of throw on these faults, in places, as much as 1400 feet. Although appearing “volcano tough” to the casual observer, the Islands of Hawaii are terribly, terribly fragile constructions and, geologically speaking, don’t last very long.

Stop and take a moment to look down the pali. Generally, the explosion cloud from where the lava is entering the ocean is visible south east from here. Look at the intertwining lava flows marching across the plain below you and imagine what it must have been like to be here, only a few decades ago, when the lava was coursing down this cliff and through the now largely-destroyed Naulu Forest.

Written, filmed and produced by Donnie MacGowan and Frank Burgess, original musical score by Donald B. MacGowan.

For more information on touring Hawaii in general and the Big Island in particular, please visit www.tourguidehawaii.com and tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com.

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Along the sea cliffs that surround the Island of Hawai’i, arches and sea stacks are formed where wild waves and tides exploit minute differences in the hardness of various layers of lava flow and airfall material, making strange, gravity-defying natural sculptures. Although common, there are few places where these arches and stacks are easily viewable–one such place is the Holei Sea Arch, which is currently directly seaward of the end of the Chain of Craters Road.

At Holei Sea Arch the cliffs are 80 to 90 feet high, but many waves still spray and wash over them, so use caution when approaching and photographing the arch. Notice along the lower cliffs in the area toward the eruption viewing platform, the several large boulders which have been dropped by giant, angry waves crashing over the sea cliffs. Imagine the power of a wave that would have enough force to deposit a several-ton boulder on a cliff 30 feet about the surface of the ocean.

For more information about traveling to Hawaii in general and touring the Big Island in general, visit www.tourguidehawaii.com and www.tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com.

Kilauea Iki, meaning little Kilauea, is the still seething remnant of a quite recent (1959), spectacular eruption that filled the crater with a molten lake of lava and threw fire fountains as much as 1900 feet in the air. For a sense of scale, the worlds tallest building, the Taipei 101 which is 101 stories tall and 1667 feet high, would be dwarfed by these fire fountains.

Distances across the crater are hard to guess, as steam jets up from small cracks in the now-hardened lava-lakes surface and the minute specks of hikers cross its black expanse, but the crater today is more than a mile long, 3000 feet across and almost 400 feet from the rim to the surface. At its peak, the volcano spewed about two million tons of lava per hour; however, between spurts, much of this liquid drained back into the subterranean plumbing of the caldera, thus giving the distinctive ring-around-the-crater look to Kilauea Iki.

For more information about touring Hawaii in general and the Big Island in particular, visit www.tourguidehawaii.com and www.tourguidehawaii.wordpress.com.

For a third day of driving, it’s time to explore the east side of the Big Island. Hilo is known to be one of the wettest cities in the U.S and tropical rainforest extends from the Puna district, south of Hilo, all the way to the northern tip of the island. Here, Tour Guide will show you the favorite sights and the out-of-the-way places as well.

Super tip: For this leg of your tour you should bring some rain gear. Umbrellas or panchos are the easiest ways to get a little protection. It tends to rain off and on throughout to day on the east side.

Leaving Kona, take Hwy 190 up the mountain for some panoramic views of the Kohala Coast. It’s about a 45 minute drive to Waimea, which is a good place to stop for breakfast or at the grocery store if you haven’t stocked your cooler already. Tour Guide will have all the info on museums, an arboretum as well as shopping and up-country activities in Waimea. Here you’ll also connect to Hwy 19.

Continue on Hwy 19 north and view the scenic rolling pasturelands of the Parker Ranch, one of the largest privately owned ranches in the U.S. About 20 minutes drive brings you to the town of Honoka’a. Turning left, and going through town, you’ll find more great shops, antique stores and restaurants. Nine miles on Hwy 240 brings you to Waipi’o Valley. This is one of the most photographed areas in the state. This 20 mile stretch between Waipi’o and Pololu is often called “Hawaii untouched”, boasting the largest waterfalls in the state, but can only be viewed by air tours or multi-day hikes. Tour Guide will tell you why this area was sacred to the ancient Hawaiians. You can also find out about air tours in Tour Guide’s activities section.

Head back toward Honoka’a Hwy 19 and turn southbound toward Hilo along the Hamakua Coast. This area was once all sugar cane fields but now many diversified agricultural crops are grown here. The first crop you will see is eucalyptus. Acres and acres of this fragrant tree yield sap for medicines and perfumeries all around the world. There is a rainforest preserve, Kalopa Park, just 3 miles upslope from the hwy. It’s tricky to find, but Tour Guide will show you the way to this peaceful cabin camp spot with horseback riding and bird watching.

As you continue driving south, you cross many bridges over gorges and valleys, many of which have viewable waterfalls and rivers that empty into the ocean. Don’t forget to stop and get some pictures this unique scenery. The terrain is lush and green with a huge variety of tropical flowers. Other crops also come into view such as mangoes, papayas, ginger and bananas. Tour Guide will tell you about the trains that used to transport sugar cane to the mills near Hilo and you can stop and see the train museum along the way.

Next up is one of the most famous and beautiful waterfalls in Hawaii, Akaka Falls, a 420 ft. fall, which is just 3 miles off the hwy, but worlds away. The one mile hike on a paved trail through the rainforest will pass two smaller waterfalls as well as orchid, heleconia, plumeria and other tropical plants. Tour Guide will tell the history of this area as well.

For more information about touring Hawaii in general and the Big Island in particular, visit tourguidehawaii.com and tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com.


Kilauea Iki, meaning little Kilauea, is the still seething remnant of a quite recent (1959), spectacular eruption that filled the crater with a molten lake of lava and threw fire fountains as much as 1900 feet in the air. For a sense of scale, the worlds tallest building, the Taipei 101 which is 101 stories tall and 1667 feet high, would be dwarfed by these fire fountains.

Distances across the crater are hard to guess, as steam jets up from small cracks in the now-hardened lava-lakes surface and the minute specks of hikers cross its black expanse, but the crater today is more than a mile long, 3000 feet across and almost 400 feet from the rim to the surface. At its peak, the volcano spewed about two million tons of lava per hour; however, between spurts, much of this liquid drained back into the subterranean plumbing of the caldera, thus giving the distinctive ring-around-the-crater look to Kilauea Iki.

Formore information on traveling to Hawaii in general or touring the Big Island in particular. visit tourguidehawaii.com and tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com.

Along the sea cliffs that surround the Island of Hawai’i, arches and sea stacks are formed where wild waves and tides exploit minute differences in the hardness of various layers of lava flow and airfall material, making strange, gravity-defying natural sculptures. Although common, there are few places where these arches and stacks are easily viewable–one such place is the Holei Sea Arch, which is currently directly seaward of the end of the Chain of Craters Road.

At Holei Sea Arch the cliffs are 80 to 90 feet high, but many waves still spray and wash over them, so use caution when approaching and photographing the arch. Notice along the lower cliffs in the area toward the eruption viewing platform, the several large boulders which have been dropped by giant, angry waves crashing over the sea cliffs. Imagine the power of a wave that would have enough force to deposit a several-ton boulder on a cliff 30 feet about the surface of the ocean.

For more information on touring Hawaii in general and the Big Island in particular, go to www.tourguidehawaii.com and www.tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com.

Produced by Donnie MacGowan; videography by Donnie MacGowan and Frank Burgess; narrated by Frank Burgess; original music written and performed by Donnie MacGowan.


Sulfur Banks, on the crater side of the road, is just one of hundreds of gas seep on the flanks of the summit crater spewing hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide and steam. Hematite, native sulfur and gypsum minerals precipitate out of the gas flux streaming through the rocks, making colorful splashes on the outcrops. Children and people with heat or respiratory conditions, or anybody with a weak stomach should be wary of venturing down the road to see this.

Non-sulfurous steam vents, mostly across the road from the crater and at the aptly named Steaming Bluff, result from rainwater percolating down through the ground being boiled by the hot rock beneath and streaming up vents to the surface. There is a short walk to the Steaming Bluff from the Sulfur Banks parking area which comes to a breathtaking view of the crater and more productive steam vents.

For more information on touring Hawaii in general and the Big Island in particular, visit tourguidehawaii.com and tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com.

The remains of Hapaial’i Heiau (Temple for Elevating Chiefs), a heiau associated with ceremonies involving changes in rank of Ali’i, lie on the grounds of the Keauhou Ohana Beach Resort, across the narrow tidal inlet from Ke’eku Heiau. Not much is known about this Heiau; some traditions hold that it predates Ke’eku Heiau; others maintain it was built around 1812 by Kamehameha the Great. To reach Hapaiali’i Heiau, park either in the Kahalu’u Beach Park or at Keauhou Ohana Beach Resort. From Kahalu’u, walk onto the Keauhou Ohana Beach Resort property through the gateway in the fence between them and follow the asphalt path to the pool deck, through the lobby of the resort and join the paved path that runs along the end of the Resort driveway. From the Resort parking lot, walk up the drive to the paved path that runs along the end of the driveway. Following along this path, one passes Punawai Spring first, then, where the path runs around the end of the tennis courts the homesite of the Mo’o Twins. Continuing on the path until it ends at a broken concrete bridge among “No Trespassing” signs, the Hapaial’i Heiau is immediately between you and the ocean; all that remains of this once impressive temple are an unpresupposing stack of stones and some tumbling walls. Remember that these are holy religious sites to modern native Hawai’ians; to not trespass, walk or climb on the temple proper; take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints. For more information on exploring the ancient temples of Hawaii, visit http://www.tourguidehawaii.com, http://www.lovingthebigisland.wordsmith.com and http://www.tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com. Video produced by Donald B. MacGowan Encore: myspace graphic at Gickr
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Eruption! Lava Viewing at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Big Island of Hawaii

Written directed and produced by Donald B. MacGowan; Narrated by Frank Burgess; Original Musical Score by Donald B. MacGowan

Can you believe this? It’s absolutely outstanding and amazing! You can actually walk right up to flowing lava here; see a volcano erupt before your eyes and the molten rock pour into the sea. This has to be one of the four or five most exciting, amazing, wonderful, mystical experiences on earth…you must not miss this!

Mauna Loa is active but not currently erupting. The summit area is slowly inflating, filling with magma and the flanks are subject to frequent minor earthquakes, but no obvious activity is apparent to the visitor. Kilauea, the most active volcano on Earth, started its current eruptive phase in 1983, the longest eruption in history. Since then it has ejected almost 3 billion cubic meters of lava. Flowing from various vents in the rift, most notably Pu’u O’o, in streams and tubes at over 1000 degrees Celsius, much of the lava makes its way into the sea in fiery, steamy explosions or the incredible incongruity of glowing hot lava pouring directly into the sea with little more apparent than a mere bubbling of the water.

Although surface flows and breakouts are frequent and common, there is no guarantee that over any given trip to the Big Island they will be visible or easily accessible to the casual visitor. Since the flow of lava over the moonscape plains and into the roiling sea can be seen nowhere else on earth, it is certainly the most exciting, unique and moving highlight of any trip to Hawai’i. People stand at the edge of the flow and weep at the majesty and mystery of the earth remaking itself; it is wondrous, remarkable and unforgettable. Before planning a hike to see the lava, check with the Rangers at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park for information on the hike length and location of surface flows and a review of safety information.

The lava seems to glow with only a dull petulance during the day and may be less than inspiring until nightfall brings it alive and the madly glowing, fiery goddess within is revealed. Thus knowledgeable hikers plan their hike to commence in the afternoon, reaching their destination at dusk, and to hike back in the dark. The lava streams and tubes migrate back and forth from time to time over a pali and plain of about 8 miles breadth. Sometimes the hike is a few hundred meters, sometimes a few miles, but it is always over an uneven, rough surface, hot during the day even when it rains, cold at night and navigation can sometimes be counterintuitive. The trail at first is marked with cairns and reflectors, but after the viewpoint overlook at a few hundred meters, you are on your own to navigate the basalt wilderness. Take at least 3 quarts of water for each person and two working (check before you leave!) flashlights per person. It is further recommended that you carry sunscreen, snacks, a first aid kit (that rock is SHARP, cuts are common) and wear sturdy hiking boots and long pants. Remember that you are hiking on a highly active volcano, if flowing streams of lava strand you, no rescue is practical or possible; plan, take care and pay strict attention accordingly.
For more information on viewing the lava, visit www.tourguidehawaii.com and www.tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com.