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A truly remarkable place of great peace, beauty and spiritual healing, Punalu’u’s black sand-lined coves and beaches are world-renowned. Dozens of endangered Hawai’ian Green Sea Turtles swim the waters of Kuhua Bay, Ninole Cove and Punalu’u Harbor and frequently bask on Kaimu Beach here. The wildness of the ocean and the serenity of the freshwater fishpond and coconut palm-shaded beaches make this an ideal place to spend some soul-recharge time. Snorkeling, picnicking and camping, or just relaxing on the beach, are major destination pass-times here.

For more information, visit www.tourguidehawaii.com and www.tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com.

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Tour Guide Hawaii, GPS-guided audiovisual tours...Take Me Along!

Tour Guide Hawaii, GPS-guided audiovisual tours...Take Me Along!

Heralding a new era in travel and guaranteeing to add immense depth and enjoyment to any trip to the Big Island of Hawaii, Tour Guide Hawaii’s unique location-aware, GPS guided audio visual tours are a fabulous way to be your own tour guide! Tour Guide even saves you time and gas and so it saves you money; this allows you to see more of Paradise.

Honestly, this is the most amazing travel product you’ve seen yet…here’s how the magic works: simply turn the unit on and deploy the GPS antenae, then launch the Tour Guide program. That’s it! The Tour Guide unit is loaded with over 600 hundred audio visual presentations about sites all over the island: cultural, historical, recreation, the beaches, the snorkeling, the bird watching–heck, they’ve even loaded in the public restrooms! And the GPS means it always knows where you are on the island, and where you are in relation to all the adventure and discovery, the culture and history, the beaches and the towns. So, as you walk or drive, the three sites nearest to you pop up on the screen–you decide if you want to watch the presentation by simply touching the screen. It’s just that simple!

Want to do a special search of how to see the flowing lava, or find secret snorkeling beaches, or perhaps you are interested in ancient temples, or maybe it’s lunch time and you’re looking for a nearby restaurant…Tour Guide has several handy search modes so you can find exactly what you are looking for by location, by what type of activity you’re interested in or you can just browse through the hundreds of fascinating places to go, sights to see, things to do. When you’ve selected the site you want to visit, the integrated Garmin GPS turn-by-turn software will effortlessly navigate you right to where you want to go–you save time and money…and see more of fabulous Hawaii! You can enjoy hours of informative and interesting commentary on the whole island whether on the road, in the comfort of your hotel, or at the lunch table; plan ahead, explore before you go, be prepared–Tour Guide will give you tips on what to take with you for specific sites and what to expect when you get there.

And did I mention they even have the Public Restrooms? They call it the Big Island for good reason, so this is a VERY handy feature!

Tour Guide Hawaii blends old time Hawaiian storytelling with modern satellite technology and puts the secrets of Hawaii at your fingertips. Enjoy their location-aware, GPS audio-visual tours; they make YOU the guide!

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

For an interesting day of driving, head north out of Kona on Hwy. 19. About 4 miles out of town we come across the Kaloko-Honokohau Historic Park. There is a new visitor center giving info on the significance of this area to ancient Hawaiians. Tour Guide has an extensive narration about this area. The adjacent Honokohau small boat harbor is an excellent spot to find hiking trails, beaches, snorkeling, whale watching and deep sea fishing.

Kaloko-Honokahau National Historic Park is an amazing place, containing an immense wilderness beach on the fringe of the Kailua Kona Metropolitan area, which features bathing springs, hiking trails, ancient villages, good snorkeling and better surfing. For a video about the park, go here.

Continue driving north past the Kona International Airport, you will be viewing lava fields dating back to 1802. Another 10 minutes brings you to the turn off for the Hualalai resorts. The Kona Village and Four Seasons resorts are surrounded by the beautiful Hualalai Golf Course, home of the PGA MasterCard Championship. Tour Guide lists every golf course on the Big Island. This whole resort area was built to be nearly invisible from the hwy.

After the Hualali Resorts, there is about 20 minutes of driving to reach the Waikoloa resorts. Tour Guide will you give info on some secluded beaches along the way. For most of these you will have to park on the hwy and hike to the shore. Since these beaches are so secluded, there will be no facilities. My favorite of these is Kua Bay. Here there is parking near the beach, restrooms and water available, but no shade. Since there is no sign on the hwy, Tour Guide will tell you where to turn to find this family friendly beach park.

Super tip: Hawaii is much closer to the equator than you may be used to. Even when it’s cloudy, the sun will burn the skin quickly. Your friendly staff at Tour Guide recommends you use sunscreen liberally and re-apply often, especially after swimming, snorkeling or hiking.

Next, as we head north, is the Waikoloa Beach Resorts. This beautiful resort area is cut right out of the jagged lava rock. It boasts the Marriott and Hilton Waikoloa which have shops and fabulous dining. Many coupons and much 9information of the restaurants and shops in this are can be found in two Big Island magazines, here and here. Hilton Grand Vacations operates a huge timeshare resort here and there are numerous condos all centered around two championship golf courses. Tour Guide will give turn-by-turn directions to the resorts and golf courses in this area.

The King’s Shops and Queen’s Marketplace, on Waikoloa Beach Drive, offers mid to high end shopping with some famous brand name stores. If an ultimate dining experience is what you’re after, world famous chef’s whip up their culinary delights to tempt your palate. There is also a food court for more casual dining. Tour Guide will take you to all of this, plus family activities like sun bathing, swimming, snorkeling, wind surfing and dinner cruises, focused around the most photographed sunset spot on the island, Anaeho’omalu Bay.

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

For nearly a thousand years sites around the Keauhou Historic District served as the political, cultural and religious centers for the people of the Hawaiian Islands. Many of the most important, best preserved and certainly the most interesting historical, pre-historical and cultural sites lie within the Keauhou Historic District, which stretches from Kahalu’u Beach Park south to Kuamo’o Bay. There are more than a dozen fascinating archeological features and sites that are easy to walk to, well maintained and quite interesting. Starting on Ali’i Drive just north of Kahalu’u Beach, let’s work our way south through this incredibly rich region.

Ku’emanu Heiau is located just south of Ali’i Drive mile marker 4.5 and just north of Kahalu’u. It is perhaps the only ancient temple in the world dedicated solely to the sport of surfing. This was a luakini heiau(a temple where human sacrifice was practiced) and on the north side of the site is a laupa’u, or bone pit where the remains of the sacrificed were discarded. The temple is still sacred to native Hawai’ians so remember to be especially respectful of this unique site. Do not disturb, nor take as souvenirs, offerings left upon the lele platform. Remember: take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints; Ku’emanu Heiau is a particularly striking place to photograph the sunset.

Those vine covered ruins across the street from Kahalu’u Beach are the remains of Old Helani Church, built by the Rev. John D. Paris in 1861. The church, however, was erected on a the grounds of the ‘Ohi’a-Mukumuku Heiau; a powerful and holy religious temple around which swirls some of the darkest folklore and ghosts stories told around the Hawai’ian Islands.

Held in Hawai’ian folktales to have been built by the gods, ‘Ohi’a-Mukumuku Heiau was re-dedicated to the war god, Kuka’ilimoku, by the Hawai’i Ali’i Lonoikamakakahiki so that he might vanquish his foe, the Ali’i of the Maui, Kamalalawalu, during their 16th century battles. It is said of these battles that when the Maui attacked the Hawai’i, the numbers of warriors was so vast that just as the first of the Maui war canoes were landing on Hawai’i, the last of their canoes were still leaving Maui. Ultimately victorious over the Maui, Lonoikamakakahiki took Kamalalawalu over to the nearby Ke’eku Heiau and sacrificed him alive to celebrate his great victory. Local ghost tales tell of Kamalalawalu and his war dogs still haunting both Ohi’a-Mukumuku and Ke’eku Heiaus.

Paokamenehune Seawall, is partly a natural and partly man-made feature enclosing the southern end of Kahalu’u Bay. Paokamenehune predates the 15th century temple complexes in the area and is held in legend to have been built by the menehune (sort of the Hawai’ian equivalent to leprechauns). However, building was actually initiated by Hawaiian leaders to enclose the bay as a large fishpond. Whether the work became beyond the powers of the Ali’i at the time to administer or the surfing faction won-out in the battle over use of Kahalu’u Bay is not known, but the breakwater was already in disrepair and disarray at the time of European contact in the 18th century.

Kapua Noni Heiau, located on a small point of land between the Outrigger Keauhou Beach Hotel’s pool and the sea, was built by the Ali’i Kalanio’pu’u. This walled enclosure was dedicated to ensuring the abundance of fish. Just north of the Heiau is a canoe landing and the sacred bathing pool, Poho’okapo. Po’o Hawaii Pond, a few dozen meters to the east, is a rare freshwater spring that was strictly reserved for the use of the Ali’i as a fish and bathing pond. Near the pond is the homesite of King Kalakaua. The original Hale Kahakai O Kalakaua, or seashore home of King Kalakaua, was built here in the 1880s; King Kalakaua built his own house and an exact replica for his friend the Court Jester. Both were destroyed in 1950; this replica was erected in 1980, about a century after the original had been built.

Between the canoe landing and the Po’o Hawai’i Pond (King’s Pond) are two sacred ku’ula stones. Carved or natural, large or small, stones used to attract fish are referred to as pohaku ku’ula. These two ku’ula are named Kanaio and Ulupalakua and were brought by voyaging canoe from Maui in 1751.

Look at the larger stone to see the images of a turtle, a fishhook and shark represented on it, using a combination of the natural lines of the stone and engraving. The round hole near the top indicates that this was also a “luakini” stone, or stone for human sacrifice. A loop of rope was passed through the hole, around the victim’s neck, and tightened until strangulation was complete. It is not known if human sacrifice at this stone was used as punishment, to propitiate the gods for good fishing, to dispatch enemy combatants for ritual cannibalism, or some combination of these.

On opposite sides of the Outrigger Keauhou Beach Hotel Tennis Courts lie the homesite of the legendary Mo’o Twins and Punawai Spring. The fertility pit at Punawai Spring is an example of the rare freshwater springs in this area which were the only source of drinking water and were the only reasons villages could survive in Kona. In modern times, the Hotel has promoted wedding ceremonies in the glade around Punawai springs, a Western reflection of the ancient practice of Hawai’ian girls bathing in them to insure fertile child-bearing years. Legend tells us that the Mo’o Twins were prophetesses of the lizard goddess who, through time, became goddesses in their own right. Learned in medicine, storytelling and song, the Mo’o Twins were revered and beloved of the local population they served.

The reconstructed Hapaiali’i Heiau (Temple for Elevating Chiefs), a temple associated with ceremonies involving changes in rank of Ali’i and as a calendric and astronomical observatory, lies on the grounds of the Outrigger Keauhou 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. Rebuilt in 2007 and rededicated on the Winter Solstice of 2007, Hapaiali’i Heiau today is perhaps the best standing example of ancient Hawai’ian temple architecture

Immediately south of the grounds of the Keauhou Beach Hotel are the remains of a heiau that served as both a luakini heiau (place of human sacrifice) and pu’uhonua (place of refuge). Built by the Hawai’ian Ali’i Lonoikamakakahiki in the 16th century, Ke’eku Heiau is one of the most famous religious sites in the State of Hawai’i because of its veneration in folk tales involving the 16th century wars between the Hawai’i and the Maui. Ke’eku is where the victorious Hawaii Ali’i, Lonoikamakakahiki, is said to have sacrificed the defeated Maui Ali’i, Kamalalawalu, in celebration of the great victory. The Heiau has walls an impressive 6 to 11 feet thick, and measures 150 by 100 feet in area and is currently undergoing restoration.

Carved into the rock in the inter-tidal region in front of Ke’eku Heiau is an impressive set of ki’i pohaku (petroglyphs). Due to geological subsidence of the island over the past several hundred years, these petroglyphs are visible only at low tide; be wary of the rocks when wet—they are extremely slippery. There is one large anthropomorphic petroglyph in particular that is said to represent the sacrificed Maui Ali’i, Kamalalawalu.

Lonoikamakakahiki Homesite, on the grounds of the Kona Surf and Racquet Club, is a good example of the ravaging of archaeological heritage in West Hawai’i, and the disrespectful and wasteful way in which we deal with these important resources.

Here at Lonoikamakakahiki Residence is a king’s palace, 500 years old, and built by one of Hawai’i’s greatest kings, Umi. This site was later inhabited by at least two other important kings (Lonoikamakakahiki and Kalanio’pu’u) as well as Kamehameha the Great. In any other state this would be an archaeological treasure, a park or preserve, but certainly showcased and cared for. In this case, in Hawai’i, a few remnant walls were grudgingly reprieved from the bulldozer’s blade when the Kona Surf and Racquet Club was built by the Bishop Estate (Kamehameha Schools); the rest of this historical treasure was bulldozed into oblivion for all time. It is not even generally available for causal viewing, locked away behind the Kona Surf and Racquet Club’s iron gates where only paying Club guests and pedestrian visitors can see it. Of course, there is no available (legal) parking nearby.

The history of the temple and palace precincts of Lonoikamakakahiki Residence is deeply intertwined with some of the greatest events in the history of the Island. During the 16th Century, when Hawai’i was threatened by the attack of the Maui, Chief Lonoikamakakahiki was in residence here. Historic events again overtook this location late in the 17th Century when Captain Cook was killed at Kealakekua. Kalanio’pu’u, who was then Chief of all the Island of Hawai’i, fled here to hide from British sailors bent on vengeance. Kalanio’pu’u survived the days of battle and revenge and became a figurehead elder statesman, helping to shape his fellow Hawai’ians attitudes towards the newcomers, their incredible wealth and their new religion. Kalanio’pu’u was fond of hula and built the sacred hula grounds here which today lie under the tennis courts. Here, Kalanio’pu’u passed his latter years and divided his lands between his son, Kiwalao and his nephew, Kamehameha, passing his political power on to Kiwalao and his control of the warriors, along with the war god, Kuka’ilimoku, to Kamehameha.

After years of warfare and ruling his island kingdom, the elderly Kamehameha the Great moved his Royal Court from O’ahu to Kailua in the second decade of the 19th Century. He passed a year here at Lonoikamakakahiki Residence while his palace and temples at ‘Ahu’ena Heiau were re-built and re-dedicated. The royal residence has been uninhabited since Kamehameha moved to ‘Ahu’ena Heiau.

Anybody wishing to view these important and impressive archeological ruins must park at the Outrigger Keauhou Beach Resort or Kahalu’u County Beach Park and walk more than half a mile south along Ali’i drive to the “Public Shoreline Access” at the Surf and Racquet Club.

The scenic pullout on the Kamehameha III Highway at Ohi’a Lava Caves overlooks the Kona Coastline from Keauhou Bay north past Kailua Bay to Keahole Point. This is one of the best places to watch sunset in all of Kona and is also a grand spot for spotting whale spouts, watching sunsets and canoe races.

Directly below the scenic overlook is the Ohi’a Lava Tube cave complex. These caves were used at various times as general living quarters, shade during the blazing summers and cover from infrequent storms; springs deep with in the caves also augmented scarce supplies of fresh water for Kona residents. The caves also served as places for sacred ritual and burial of important Ali’i.

Today, exploration of the caves is unsafe and most of the accessible entrances are gated or sealed; visitors are asked to refrain from entering the caves to preserve the sanctity of native burials.

A lovely natural harbor backed by volley ball courts, canoe halau and lawn, the County Park and pier at Keauhou Bay is a lovely place to spend a few moments in quiet contemplation, eat a picnic lunch, or dive into the invitingly cool waters at the end of a hot day.

Along the cliffs fronting the bay is a nature trail planted with native Hawai’ian healing plants with explanatory signs which runs to the birthplace of Kalani Kauikeaouli, who later became King Kamehameha III when his older brother Liholiho (Kamehameha II) died of measles in England. Legend has it that Kalani was still born, but the kahuna attending the royal birth immediately immersed him in the cold waters of a nearby spring, where he was at once revived. There are not many places in America where one can easily walk to the exact birthplace of a King, and this pleasant spot is one such, not to be missed.

In ancient times, the Ali’i competed with each other in the sport of Holua, or sledding. A long, steep, track way paved with stones would be constructed down slope and then covered with tamped dirt and topped with dried grass. The Ali’i would race down these tracks on wooden sleds, or “holua” as competition. These races were very dangerous and only the Ali’i were allowed to compete. This particular holua is unique because, not only is it the largest and longest and best preserved in Hawai’i, but also because when constructed it went all the way into the sea at Keauhou Bay. Despite this important archeological site being a National Historic Landmark, much of it was bulldozed by developers building resorts and a golf course. The nearby village of Holualoa is named after this sled way; “holua” meaning “sled” and “loa” meaning “long”.

The Historic Landmark is best viewed from Ali’i Drive, directly across from the Kona Country Club parking lot.

Melancholy, lonely, desolate; this lava bench cut into the fresh scar of an a’a flow by the relentless ocean marks the place where the Hawai’ian gods died at the battle of Kuamo’o. In 1819, the year before the Christian missionaries arrived in Hawai’i, forces loyal to Kamehameha II and Queen Ka’ahumanu fought to overturn the kapu system and the pagan Hawai’ian religion in favor of Christianity. Kahuna Kekuaokalani led the last supporters of the old ways and the old gods and fought a desperate battle here to preserve their ancient way of life, and lost. Their graves, numbering in the several hundreds despite the official-looking marker at the site, are under the numerous, large stone altars erected by the victors over the very spots the warriors fell.

A walk along the dirt road that bisects the battlefield is ineffably sad and a little creepy. However, the road soon climbs into dry land forest along the lava ocean cliffs and provides some memorable hiking and sunset views.

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

Snorkeling Etiquette on Kahalu’u Beach

By Donald MacGowan

Loll in sand and sun under swaying palms, watch humpback whales dance in an exotic Kona sunset, snorkel among rainbow-colored fish on a protected reef or ride surf where the Kings of Hawai’i defined the sport a thousand years ago.

Kahalu’u Beach is the most popular snorkeling beach on the Island of Hawai’i with good reason; protected from the open ocean by a seawall, the reef is also protected against commercial aquarium fishing. The snorkeling is in calm, shallow water; there is an abundance of fish of an enormous variety…perhaps the best display on the island. Dozens of Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles call this bay home, eating the limu and thrilling the snorkelers. Numerous freshwater springs and shallow water bathers make the near-shore snorkeling unpleasantly cloudy, but about 100 feet offshore the water turns crystal clear and the display of coral is nothing short of amazing.

Outside the seawall is an excellent surf break that is for intermediate or better surfers and boogie boarders. There is a fair current north out of the bay and along the coast…swimmers caught in this current should relax and swim with the current, angling towards land.

Adjacent to Kahalu’u Beach is St. Peter’s Church, locally know as “The Little Blue Church”; it is the most photographed church in the State of Hawai’i. The history the St. Peter’s is fascinating and takes longer to tell than a tour of its Spartan interior and dozen pews. Originally built in 1880 on the site of La Aloa (Magic Sands) beach, the church was dismantled and hand carried piece by piece to its current location at Ku’emanu Heiau in 1912. In 1938, Father Benno of St. Michael’s added the belfry and the porch. Twice since it was situated here, St.Peters has been moved off its foundations by tsunami, but due to its small size and sturdy construction, has survived long in a harsh environment.

The Hawai’ian word Kahalu’u can be translated as “the place where people go into the water”; in ancient, as well as modern times, Kahalu’u was a place of recreation, relaxation and restoration. There are numerous sites of historic importance around the park, such as the breakwater, Paokamenehune, which predates the 15th century temple complexes in the area and is widely said to have been built by the menehune (sort of the Hawai’ian equivalent to leprechauns), but building was actually initiated to enclose the bay as a fishpond. Whether the work became beyond the powers of the Ali’i at the time to administrate or the surfing faction won-out in the battle over use of Kahalu’u Bay is not known, but the breakwater was already in disarray at the time of European contact in the 18th century. The springs on the northern edge of the park, at Ku’emanu Heiau, Waikui Punawai, where luakini sacrifices were ritually cleansed and today surfers rinse ocean water off themselves after surfing. Between St. Peters and the northern restroom is the Awa pae Wai O Keawaiki canoe landing which figured prominently in the Maui-Hawaii wars of the 16th Century. The large pond between the northern restrooms and the small pavilion, Wai Kua’a’la loko, was the private bathing pond of Hawai’ian Ali’i in residence at Kahalu’u.

Between the two pavilions is another ancient canoe landing and even into historic times, a halau wa’a, or canoe storage house, was situated here. An important heiau and royal residence, Mokuahi’ole, stood where the large pavilion is today. It was at this site that the great queen and wife of Kamehameha the Great, Ka’ahumanu, and her cousin Kuakini (later Territorial Governor) were raised.

Most days there is a food wagon selling sandwiches, burgers, shave ice and cold drinks at reasonable prices and a vendor renting snorkeling gear and boogie boards.

Since Kahalu’u Beach is where most people go to snorkel, let’s take a moment to talk about reef etiquette and the animals which inhabit the coral reefs. Please do not feed the fish, it disrupts their natural feeding habits and you may be injured. Reef fish do occasionally “nip”, so do not chase, harass or touch them (this includes octopi). The oils on your fingers will injure their skin and they may carry diseases which they can pass to you on your hands.

No discussion of Kahalu’u would be complete without a word about Hawaii’s Green Sea Turtles. Called Honu by Hawaii’s natives, the Hawaiian Green Sea turtle is beautiful, serene and seeming wise. Though they have swum the oceans for over 200 million years, peacefully feeding on algae and invertebrates, this highly successful product of amphibian evolution is in grave danger. Loss of habitat, hunting and molestation by humans has conspired to push the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle to the very verge of extinction. Protected now by state and federal law, the population of once millions of individuals has been decimated to just a few hundred thousand; although they are making a comeback, Hawaii’s honu are still very much endangered. Honu may grow up to 45 inches and weigh as much as 400 pounds at maturity, reached at 25 years of age.

Hawaiian Green sea turtles can easily be differentiated from the other near shore sea turtle in Hawaii, the much less common Hawksbill turtle, by counting the scales between the eyes. Hawksbills have four scales between the eyes and Hawaiian Green Sea turtles have two. Lady honu crawl on shore to lay their eggs, generally after migration to the quieter shores of the French Frigate Shoals, 800 miles northwest of Hawaii, or the black sand beaches on the south end of the Big Island of Hawaii.

Do not approach basking turtles closely, never touch or pick them up. Harassing turtles carries a stiff fine and in any case, touching the turtle is a good way to get a raging salmonella infection. If honu are swimming near where you are, do not approach or chase them; always swim to the side of them, never above (as a predatory shark would) nor below them (so they won’t feel that their soft belly is at risk).

Anyone who observes their beauty and grace underwater easily understands why the Hawai’ians base their word for “peace”, “honua”, on their name for the green sea turtle, “honu”.

Snorkeling etiquette calls for protecting not only the reef fish, but also the fragile corals growing on the reef. Corals, actually colonies of very small animals, take hundreds of years to form the structures visible today; they feed, shelter and provide habitats for other reef animals. Coral reefs also protect the lagoons and shoreline from waves and sand erosion. Corals are at the very root of Hawai’ian history and culture; the Hawaiian creation chant places the origin of life at the sea, beginning with a coral polyp.

Simply touching corals to see what they feel like can cause the death of an entire colony. Oils from your skin can disturb the delicate mucous membranes which protect the animals from disease. Please don’t walk upon or stand on coral, as this can kill the living coral polyps which, as the builders of the entire reef structure, are the very foundation of the reef ecosystem. Sunscreen washing off your body can kill coral; wear a t-shirt and a swim cap for UV protection.

For more information on visiting Hawaii in general and touring the Big Island in particualar, go to www.tourguidehawaii.com as well as here.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Chain of Craters Road

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is one of the great natural wonders, as well the most studied volcanoes, on earth. Few places can the visitor get as many diverse climates, flora, fauna and geologic dreamlands as inside the park’s boundaries.

Continuing down the Chain of Craters Road, there are numerous turnouts with panoramas that stretch the imagination. Tour Guide adds to the excitement with all the information about what is being seen. Take a quick stop at Alanui Kahiko. The words in Hawaiian mean old road. Here you will see portions of the old Chain of Craters Road, some 12 miles worth above and below this lookout, buried under 300 feet of lava by the 1972 eruptions. This spectacle alone is testament to the awesome destructive powers of Madam Pele, the volcano’s Fire Goddess.

A few miles further down the mountain is the Pu’u Loa Petroglyph field. It can be found along the side of the Ka’u-Puna Trail, a trail used by ancient Hawaiians. This is believed to be the largest petroglyph field in Polynesia, containing more that 15,000 carvings. The path to the petroglyphs is marked from the parking lot by cairns. Tour Guide will show you where to park and explain some of the carving’s meanings at this phenomenal spot.

At about the 19 mile marker is the current End of the Road, the location where the lava cut off the road in 1983. A year ago, you could park here and trek across the barren fields to where the lava was entering the ocean. Now, however, the lava has changed course and is sometimes entering from the Puna side of the park. There is still a ranger’s station here and many placards telling about the flows and safety precautions for hiking in the desolate area. Restrooms are available.

Walking down to the ocean at the End of the Road are some beautiful formations, most notably, the Holei Sea Arch. Tour Guide will tell you how arches and stacks are formed when the waves pound against the sea cliffs and chisel into the various lava densities. The cliff around this arch is some ninety feet, so use caution as you photograph this amazing sight.

Looking back up the mountain gives one the perspective of the destruction, yet the immaculate life giving beauty, of the fire goddess Pele who is in constant battle her sister, the ocean. Each takes life, and gives it. We as humans can stand in awe at the majesty and wonder of these two great forces, respecting each on its own terms.

As you travel back up the Chain of Craters Road, don’t forget to stop at some of the vista points and take photos and videos of the landscape, the memories and the people that are like nowhere else on earth, the Island of Hawaii.

For more information on touring Hawaii in general and the Big Island in particular, go here and here.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Chain of Craters Road

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is one of the great natural wonders, as well the most studied volcanoes, on earth. Few places can the visitor get as many diverse climates, flora, fauna and geologic dreamlands as inside the park’s boundaries.

Continuing down the Chain of Craters Road, there are numerous turnouts with panoramas that stretch the imagination. Tour Guide adds to the excitement with all the information about what is being seen. Take a quick stop at Alanui Kahiko. The words in Hawaiian mean old road. Here you will see portions of the old Chain of Craters Road, some 12 miles worth above and below this lookout, buried under 300 feet of lava by the 1972 eruptions. This spectacle alone is testament to the awesome destructive powers of Madam Pele, the volcano’s Fire Goddess.

A few miles further down the mountain is the Pu’u Loa Petroglyph field. It can be found along the side of the Ka’u-Puna Trail, a trail used by ancient Hawaiians. This is believed to be the largest petroglyph field in Polynesia, containing more that 15,000 carvings. The path to the petroglyphs is marked from the parking lot by cairns. Tour Guide will show you where to park and explain some of the carving’s meanings at this phenomenal spot.

At about the 19 mile marker is the current End of the Road, the location where the lava cut off the road in 1983. A year ago, you could park here and trek across the barren fields to where the lava was entering the ocean. Now, however, the lava has changed course and is sometimes entering from the Puna side of the park. There is still a ranger’s station here and many placards telling about the flows and safety precautions for hiking in the desolate area. Restrooms are available.

Walking down to the ocean at the End of the Road are some beautiful formations, most notably, the Holei Sea Arch. Tour Guide will tell you how arches and stacks are formed when the waves pound against the sea cliffs and chisel into the various lava densities. The cliff around this arch is some ninety feet, so use caution as you photograph this amazing sight.

Looking back up the mountain gives one the perspective of the destruction, yet the immaculate life giving beauty, of the fire goddess Pele who is in constant battle her sister, the ocean. Each takes life, and gives it. We as humans can stand in awe at the majesty and wonder of these two great forces, respecting each on its own terms.

As you travel back up the Chain of Craters Road, don’t forget to stop at some of the vista points and take photos and videos of the landscape, the memories and the people that are like nowhere else on earth, the Island of Hawaii.

For more information on visiting Hawaii in general and touring the Big Island in particular, go here and here. Tour Guide…for Hawaii fun and Big Island Adventure!


Exploring Mysterious Puna…

For your next day of driving, let’s go south on Highway 11 headed for the Puna District. Leave early and expect to get back just after dark because this area is furthest from Kona and contains some of the most beautiful, yet hidden, wonders on the Big Island. It is from Puna that, currently, the only up-close viewing of flowing lava is possible. You may want to pack a cooler for this day trip.

As you’re passing through Kainaliu, just south of Kona, a quick stop at Kona Joe’s Coffee Plantation, for some great Kona Coffee, will jump start your day. See their ad in the sponsors section in your Tour Guide. If you are driving straight to Puna, plan on about 3½ hrs drive time to get to the first sights in this discussion. If you have missed any sights that you wanted to see on the southern route, refer to Frank’s Travel Hints #1 and #2 and catch them on the way…just don’t forget to allow for extra time.

Along the way you will pass Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. This is a fascinating place and not to be missed, but we will reserve it for a full day later.

The first turn is about 20 minutes past the park entrance at the town of Kea’au. Look for the stop light on the highway and the Highway 130 sign. The Kea’au Shopping Center has some great places to eat, like Paradise Bar and Grill, and is a good restroom break.

The first stop, in the Puna district, is the town of Pahoa. You will think you have just stepped back into the Wild West as Pahoa has a unique atmosphere like nowhere else on the island. Cute shops, and a great farmer’s market on Sundays, lends to picture taking and shopping. Tour Guide will suggest that parking is easiest at the Community Pool just a block from downtown, and there are public restrooms here.

Continue driving further into Puna on Highway 132 through the lovely tree tunnels to a magical stop at Lava Trees State Park. This gorgeous rainforest park is filled with birds and tropical plants and flowers. What makes this park so intriguing is the lava trees. Tour Guide will tell you how old lava flows surrounded the trees, leaving spires of hardened lava, giving it an eerie look. There are trails for hiking and bird watching is spectacular. This is also a good place for a restroom break as it will be a good while before the next restrooms are available. Highway 132 leads you to Highway 137, the Kapoho-Kalapana Road–the only road in America that is named for two towns buried by a volcano.

Turning toward Kapoho on Highway 137, the next stop is the Kapoho Tide Pools where you can experience great shoreline shell collecting and fantastic snorkeling amongst vibrant corals and tropical fish in protected tidepools. Though hard to find on your own, Tour Guide again knows the way to this secluded sanctuary and ancient village. Port-a-potties and showers are the only facilities here.

Just a few miles down Highway 137 is Ahalanui Hot Pond. This tropical park is centered around a hot spring that mixes with ocean water to create one of the most relaxing and soul recharging oases anywhere. Tour Guide gives you the history of what this area meant to the ancient Hawaiians. Picnicking, hiking, swimming and “expert only” surfing are some of the things to do here. There are restrooms, showers and water available also.

As you continue along the coast road, you will next encounter McKenzie State Park. Here the Ironwood trees create an unusual ambience of a pine tree forest. The sheer cliffs and majesty of the ocean beg for photographing. Swimming would be near impossible here, but the hiking is spectacular. Tour Guide will give more information about this other- worldly park. A permit is required for camping and the facilities are a bit run down.

Not far away is Kahena Beach. This beautiful black sand beach involves a bit of a scamper to get down the cliff, but is well worth the effort. Tour Guide will give you the easiest path to take. You may notice that this beach is “clothing optional”, thus it’s popularity. Swimming here is good, but currents can be strong if you get too far from shore.

Highway 137 used to become the Chain of Craters Road in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, but it has been cut by several miles of intervening lava flows. Today, it ultimately ends at Highway 130, the road back to Kea’au and the Hawaii Belt Highway. At the intersections of Highways 137 and 130 are the remnants of the town of Kalapana, buried in the 1960 eruption of Kilauea. Tour Guide will tell you all about the eruption, the heroic recovery efforts, and lead you on a brief hike to Kaimu Black Sand Beach, the newest beach on the Island of Hawaii. From the end of the road you can frequently see the both the eruption cloud over Pu’u O’o Vent and the steam plume where lava is entering the ocean, both several miles distant. At night, the glow from streams of lava pouring down the pali can sometimes be seen from here. Although hiking to the lava can be an experience to cherish, it is dangerous and hard work. The best, and most consistent, viewing is by taking an air tour, such as Big Island Air or Paradise Helicopter Tours.

Heading back from Kalapana, you will want to take Highway 130 toward Pahoa and Kea’au, you pass the famous “Painted Church”. Tour Guide can tell you the history of this fascinating place. Just a little farther north is the intersection of Highway 130 with the road to Royal Gardens Estates, which currently leads to the Hawaii County-maintained lava viewing area. Call the Lava Hotline at 808.961.8093 for current eruption updates, lava viewing information and times of road openings and closures. As you continue towards Kea’au you will pass the Steam Rooms–a field of steam vents in small craters where locals go to take steam baths. Tour Guide has information on finding these craters and how to safely enjoy the wonders of natural, volcanic steam baths.

Upon returning to the Hawaii Belt Highway at Kea’au, one can proceed in either direction back to Kona, north through Hilo, a bit shorter and faster, or west through Hawaii Volcanoes National Park which, though longer, is much more scenic. If time permits, you may want to stop in Volcano Village, just off the highway, for some food, gasoline, shopping or maybe even some wine tasting. This may be the last gasoline available until you get back to Kona as it is many times hard to find an open gas station in the rural part of Hawaii Island after dark. Find your hotel in your Tour Guide and get turn-by-turn directions right to the door.

Helani Church and ‘Ohi’a-Mukumuku Heiau

Those vine covered ruins across the street from St. Peter’s are the remains of Helani Church, built by the Rev. John D. Paris in 1861 of basalt block and lime mortar. When the local population moved inland about the turn of the century, a new Helani Church was established mauka (uphill) near the Mamalohoa Highway.

The church, however, was erected on a the grounds of the ‘Ohi’a-Mukumuku Heiau; a powerful and holy religious temple around which swirls some of the darkest folklore and ghosts stories told around the Hawai’ian Islands. When you hear ghost stories about a white dog and a black dog, they are about the happenings on the grounds of the ‘Ohi’a-Mukumuku and Ke’eku Heiaus, during the time when the Ali’i of Hawai’i, Lonoikamakakahiki, was battling for supremacy with the Ali’i of the Maui, Kamalalawalu, in the 16th century.

Beneath the ruins of Helani Church lie the ruins of ‘Ohi’a-Mukumuku Heiau, a place of dark legend and lore. Held in Hawai’ian folktales to have been built by the gods, ‘Ohi’a-Mukumuku Heiau was re-dedicated to the war god, Kuka’ilimoku, by the Hawai’i Ali’i Lonoikamakakahiki, so that he might vanquish his foe, the Ali’i of the Maui, Kamalalawalu, during their 16th century battles. It is said of these battles that when the Maui attacked the Hawai’i, the numbers of warriors was so vast that just as the first of the Maui war canoes were landing on Hawai’i, the last of their canoes were still leaving Maui.

Lonoikamakakahiki had a particular disagreement with Kamalalawalu when the invading Maui captured his leading general, had his eyes gouged out and ran spears through the eye sockets. Lonoikamakakahiki vowed a bloody revenge.

When Lonoikamakakahiki vanquished the Chief of the Maui, he took Kamalalawalu over to the nearby Ke’eku Heiau and sacrificed him alive to celebrate his great victory. The method of sacrifice was slow and graphic. Kamalalawalu was staked to the ground for several days, then taken to a nearby flat rock and butchered. The body was then towed to sea and fed to the sharks (some versions of the folktale have Kamalalawalu impaled on a pole for several days before being butchered on the flat rock).

Hawai’ian folktales hold that Kamalalawalu brought with him into battle two large, fierce war dogs, a white one (Kapapako) and a black one (Kauakahiok’oka). The dogs are said to have lain down and died on the spot of Kamalalawalu’s execution. Although buried beneath the heiau luakini platform, it is said that these dogs can still be seen roaming, and heard howling, in the night searching the underworld for their fallen master. Two stone features found on the makai side of Ke’eku Heiau stone platform represent the two dogs.

Petroglyphs along the rocks, visible at low tide between Kahalu’u Beach Park and Keauhou O’hana Beach Resort, commemorate the sacrifice of Kamalalawalu by Lonoikamakakahiki.

Produced by Donnie MacGowan.

For more information visit www.tourguidehawaii.com and www.tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com.

A thriving Hawai’ian community out here in the middle of the desert? At Honokohau, ancient Hawai’ians took advantage of abundant freshwater springs to site a large community centered around fishing, fishponds and taro fields. The National Historic Park preserves a vast complex of important archeological sites, including heiaus, fishponds, a fishtrap, house sites, burials, a holua (sledding track), a Queen s Bath and abundant petroglyphs. An information center and bookshop is located between the two access roads off the highway and the best place to start any exploration of the National Park. As a beach, Ai’iopio Beach is one of Kona s finest, most protected and fun places to swim. Abundant shade along a long wide beach and a protected reach make this is perfect to take children though the water is a little murky for ideal snorkeling. For more information, visit www.tourguidehawaii.com and www.tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com.

Produced by Donald B. MacGowan.