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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.

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The FUN-damentals of Snorkeling!
Snorkeling is fun, easy and safe…it is also the best way to become intimately acquainted with the turtles, reefs and fish of Hawaii. A popular leisure and adventure sport, snorkeling is one of the Big Island’s primary tourist draws. Yet many come to the Island wanting to snorkel but with little real ideas about the techniques and tricks of the sport. Donnie MacGowan and Bart Hunt present a quick tutorial about snorkeling technique, some tricks and some practical advice.

Related videos can be seen

here, here, here and here.

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


Kilauea’s Eruption Just Keeps Getting More Fantastic!

Aloha, I’m Donnie MacGowan–I live in the County of Hawaii, on the Island of Hawaii in the State of Hawaii…I just spent the last few days camped out at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park watching Kilauea Volcano erupt and I wanted to share some of the footage I shot.

When I was a college student back in the mid 1970’s, I took a geology class just for kicks. One morning the professor burst in late and said “You guys have GOT to see this film—my friend in Hawaii just sent it to me…this is happening right now!” He loaded up the projector and showed us this film of a brand new eruption on Mauna Ulu in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park–that film changed my life. I declared myself a Geosciences major on the spot and even went on to earn a PhD. in Geochemistry. Although ultimately I did not pursue Volcanology as a discipline, my love affair with volcanoes as an avocation, and my spiritual connection to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, has never waned.

Visitors to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park right now are being treated to a rare event. Kilauea Volcano is erupting in two places simultaneously! Up in the summit caldera, in Hale ma’uma’u Crater, a vent exploded open last March that has continued to thrill visitors with its billowing steam cloud and night-time glow. If this were the only volcano you were ever going to see, this would plenty spectacular. Current eruption activity updates are available from the National Park at 808.985.6000.

But hold on! The real action is down at the coast where lava from the East Rift Zone has broken out of lava tubes, flows across the open ground and into the sea. From the air, one can see the spectacular glow of a small lava lake in Pu’u O’o crater and from several breakouts along the 2007 Thanksgiving Eve Breakout tube system above the pali and near the top of Royal Gardens subdivision. Lava is currently flowing down the pali and entering the ocean at the Waikupanaha ocean entry where there are spectacular littoral explosions. Although this activity is usually quite vigorous, including a 10-15-m-high lava fountains, it can be sporadic on a day-to day basis.

Over the years, lava has mostly entered the ocean within the National Park boundaries. Park policy has been to allow tourists to approach flowing lava as closely as the visitor himself deemed safe. Surprisingly, a relatively small percentage of visitors were killed or maimed in this process and unparallel access to one of the great wonders of the world, the spectacle of the Earth remaking herself through volcanic eruption, was available on a very intimate basis to anyone who came to Hawaii. Every six or so years, for a period of several months, eruption flows go outside the park boundaries, as it is doing now.

The County of Hawaii, whose Civil Defense Department is responsible for visitor safety in these cases, is not so liberal in granting access to the lava flow. The county maintains a viewing area several hundred meters back from the actual flow and ocean entry areas and visitors are not allowed any closer. As of this writing, to see the lava flow one must find the County of Hawaii volcano viewing area. From the Hawaii Belt Road at Kea’au, proceed south on Highway 130 through Pahoa and toward the now-buried town of Kalapana. At the 20 mile marker the road splits; the right branch (helpfully marked “end of road”) leads to a dirt-and-lava road a couple miles long at the end of which is the parking area for the County of Hawaii volcano viewing area. One really cannot miss the way during daylight hours, as the enormous explosion plume is clearly visible from miles away. The viewing area is open from 2 in the afternoon until 10 at night; no cars are allowed in after 8 p.m. Lava viewing and road information is available from the County of Hawaii at 808.961.8093.

A carnival atmosphere hovers over the parking lot, where several vendors hawk jewelry, t-shirts, drinks and snacks…port-a-potties are also available. The trail leading to the viewing area is largely flat but traverses a broken lava field. It is well marked with reflectors and reflective paint strips along the surface and is just a 15 to 20 minute stroll. The quality of viewing varies from week to week as the lava stream shifts nearer or farther from the viewing area, but seeing the orange glow of flowing lava, or the fiery red explosions, is one of the most amazing experiences a person can have, no matter how far from the flow one is.

It is hard to overstate the power, mystery and magic of this eruption, but upon occasion, transient local atmospheric phenomena such as waterspouts and lightning add even more spice to this already awe-inspiring spectacle. Other wonders abound here, too, if you look closely. The hardened lava over which you are walking contains numerous casts of logs, trees, coconuts and pandanas fruit. Lava viewing is best done at dusk and later, however, parking spaces fill up quickly on nice afternoons. I usually plan to arrive at the parking lot at about 3:30 or four then walk into the viewing area, spending the hours until dark reading, having a picnic and chatting with visitors who have come from all over the world to see this wonder. You should wear sturdy, close-toed walking shoes and a hat to shed rain and sun. The lava surface is sharp, so I recommend long pants and long-sleeved shirts, and a stout walking stick as well. Bring at least 2 liters of drinking water, snacks and perhaps a couple Band-Aids; definitely bring sun block. Because you are right on the ocean, short rain squalls should be expected; an umbrella and rain coat or poncho is suggested, as well as protective covering for camera gear.

If the wind shifts the explosion plume in your direction, discretion is the better part of valor; you should evacuate immediately. Those fume clouds are toxic, containing various gaseous sulphur compounds including sulphuric acid, as well as hydrochloric acid and fine particulate material. On this same topic, electronic and camera gear, as well as glasses, binoculars and other optics, will be exposed to a certain amount of these toxic gases and you should wipe them down thoroughly after your trip. Most people plan to stay on after dark and so you should bring a flashlight for each person in your group; be sure to check the batteries and bulb before you leave on the trip. Remember that food and gas are not always available after dark outside the immediate Hilo or Kailua Kona areas, so be sure to fill up your gas tank BEFORE you park, and to bring plenty to eat and drink along with you.

Viewing the lava is one of the most amazing, wondrous, moving experiences you can have, anywhere on earth. People stand in awe, openly weeping at the site of Mother Earth going through her rebirth. Each fiery explosion is met with a loud chorus of “OOOOOHS!” and “AHHHHHHS!” in a display that will make every subsequent Fourth of July fireworks spectacular seem pale by comparison. If you are coming to Hawaii, you must not miss this once-of-a-lifetime show…if you have never thought of Hawaii as a potential vacation spot, you should consider it simply for this rare, unique and entirely awe-inspiring, mystical, wondrous opportunity.

I’m Donald B. MacGowan–thank you for spending a little time with me and my volcano…aloha e a hui hou.

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

Frank’s Big Island Travel Hints: Kona Coast South of Honaunau to Ka’u

Driving south on Hwy 11 there isn’t too much to stop and see for several miles, so enjoy the panoramic views. Soon your Tour Guide will give you information about Ho’okena Beach and Milolii.

Ho’okena is a lovely gray sand beach about 5 miles off the main hwy. This is a nice beach for swimming, snorkeling and picnicking. There are some trails to hike and decent restrooms. Camping is also available by permit only. Your Tour Guide will give more information about trails to hike, camping, and where to get snorkel gear and camping permits.

Driving a few miles further, headed toward the volcano park, is the turn off for Milolii. Again about 5 miles off the main highway, Milolii is one of the last fishing villages in Hawaii. On the way down the views are spectacular, so keep your camera handy. Tour Guide will give you lots of history about this area, so make sure you listen to it on the way. If you are up for a short hike, park at the Miloli’i County Beach Park and hike the shoreline trail to beautiful, secluded, empty Honomalino Bay.

As with anywhere you travel, make sure to lock your vehicle when you leave it and don’t leave valuables in plain sight.

Tour Guide will show many other great places to explore as you continue driving south, including the famous, beautiful and wild South Point, southernmost point in the US. We’ll jump ahead at this point to the southernmost town in the United States, Na’alehu. This quaint plantation town is a throwback to when sugar cane was the main export. Na’alehu boasts being a favorite spot for Mark Twain to rest and enjoy the old Hawaii lifestyle. The Punalu’u Bakery has become famous throughout the state for their sumptuous sweet bread. These are just two great reasons to stop and take in some of the local flavor.

Driving about 10 miles further south, your Tour Guide will recommend the Punalu’u Black Sand Beach, one of the top 44 sites on the Big Island. This beach is not only famous for the jet black sand but also for the Hawaiian Green sea turtles and the Hawksbill sea turtles who reside nearby. Often you can see these magnificent creatures sunning on the black sand and, at certain times of the year, nesting and laying their eggs. All turtles in Hawaii are endangered species so touching them is forbidden and a $20,000 dollar fine is strictly enforced. Get up close for photos but please leave them alone. Tour Guide will give you some of the rich history of this area as well.

Driving south from Punalu’u Black Sand Beach, you will notice the highway begin to ascend toward the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Just after you see the Volcano Park sign, there will be a small parking lot, on the ocean side of the hwy, called the Ka’u Desert Trail Head. A one mile hike on this trail will bring you to the warrior footprints and a petroglyph field. Tour Guide gives the stories and history of this fascinating area.

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

Walk Right Up To Flowing Lava On The World’s Most Active Volcano, Kilauea On The Big Island Of Hawaii

By Donnie 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!







Fire Fountain From Explosive Sea Entry Of Lava From Kilauea Volcano (photo by Donald B. MacGowan).

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.












Surface Flow From Kilauea Flowing Into The Sea (photo by Donald B. MacGowan).

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.

Over the months and years, the lava river issuing from Pu’u O’o winds its way back and forth across the lava plain of about 8 miles breadth, sometimes flowing into the sea within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, sometime outside the eastern margin of the Park on County of Hawaii land, sometimes ponding behind the low lava hills for weeks at a time without entering the ocean at all. When you check with the rangers about flow conditions, they can tell you the best way to approach these flows.












The Short Hike Into The County Of Hawaii Viewing Platform Is Well Marked (photo by Donald B. MacGowan).

If the flows are toward the more western margin and within the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the best approach is to drive to the end of Chain of Craters Road in the Park and ten hike in. This hike can be of a few minutes, or a few hours, duration, depending upon how far away the lava ocean entry is. Talk to the rangers beforehand so you can come prepared. The hike is over an uneven, rough surface, hot during the day even when it rains, cold at night and navigation can sometimes be counter-intuitive. The trail at first is marked with cairns and reflectors, but after a few hundred meters you are on your own to navigate the basalt wilderness. The good news is, even if the hike is a couple hours duration, when the lava flow is in the National Park, you are allowed to walk right up to it; this is not true if the lava is flowing in the more eastern margin, onto County of Hawaii land.

In this case, viewing is from a County of Hawaii-maintained viewing platform. To reach this parking lot and observation point, drive south from Hilo 20 minutes, or southeast from Kona 2 hours, on the Hawaii Belt Road to the town of Kea’au. At Kea’au, turn south on Hawaii 130. There is a clearly marked intersection near the 20 mile marker on Highway 130 which leads to the county road and viewing area. After approximately 2 miles of driving over a flat, but alternating asphalt, gravel, basalt and dirt, road one reaches the parking lot at the end of the road and the beginning of a 15 minute hike to the viewing platform. The road opens at 2 in the afternoon, the last car is allowed in at 8 p.m. and the area is cleared of people and cars at 10 p.m. The trail is well marked with reflectors and paint and there are safety officers stationed all along the trail until closing at 10 p.m.












Afternoon Sunlight Makes The Eruption Cloud Glow Long Before The Lava Glow Is Visible At Night (photo by Donald B. MacGowan).

Regardless of where the lava is entering the ocean, this is as far as hikers are allowed to go on this side. Whether you approach the lava flows from the west or the east, bring at least 2 quarts of water, a flashlight for hiking out in the dark, camera, food, first aid kit, sun screen and a rain jacket; wear a sun hat, sturdy hiking shoes, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt–those rocks are sharp! Over the years, we have found a stout hiking stick and an umbrella to be of good use as well. Since photos and video are most spectacular at night, it is wise to bring a camera tripod.

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. Check your flashlights before you leave the car. 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. You only have to have running shoes catch fire on your feet once to learn the wisdom of wearing boots, here.  Learn from my bad experience.  Don’t walk on rock that feels “spongy”, is crackling or hissing.

There are other dangers to hiking on the lava plain that might not be obvious to the casual visitor. The steam clouds generated by the lava entering the sea contain fine, glassy particulate material as well as sulfuric and hydrochloric acids in concentration high enough to aggravate the very young and old, expectant mothers and people with respiratory and cardiac conditions. Over the past 20 years, a few adventurous people venturing too close to vents or the sea entries have asphyxiated from toxic gasses. The ocean near the lava entries is superheated and waves lapping on inviting black sand beaches can be scalding hot. Where explosive, the meeting of molten rock and sea can explode large, searing hot rocks hundreds of feet in the air and throw boiling water, splashing everywhere.












Visitor’s To Madam Pele’s Performance Await The Coming Of Darkness And The Best Part Of Her Show (photo by Donald B. MacGowan).

Methane explosions occur with no notice, dozens if not a hundred feet ahead of flows, flinging huge blocks hundreds of feet. Unstable benches that build up into the sea, and upon which the unwary hike and pause to photograph the scenery, are prone to collapse carrying all into the sea. Such collapses can cause local tidal waves which scour the landscape clean of everything as they pass. Thin lava crusts can hide lava tubes, caves, hollows and holes into which hikers occasionally fall and are caught.

A volcano is a naturally highly seismically active area and earthquakes are common (there are over 1200 measurable earthquakes a week on the Big Island). Less common, but certainly a constant threat, are local tsunamis generated by these earthquakes. The Park Service has roughly marked the trail to the lava; follow it closely, turning around frequently to acquaint yourself with landmarks for the hike back.

Be sure to take extra film or memory cards for your camera and remember to wipe down all cameras, eyeglasses, binoculars, optics and electronics after your visit; the salt and volcano effluent-laden atmosphere is highly corrosive. Batteries may be drained faster than expected due to the high heat near the lava.

Despite the inherent dangers of hiking over liquid rock, steaming and unstable ground along the ever-restless sea, very few hikers are injured here, even fewer are killed. This is only because people enter the goddess’s home with a sense of awe and great caution, and the Rangers are very good about instilling fear and trepidation into the hearts of those who think themselves otherwise immune to the mortal dangers presented here. If you go, remain cautious and vigilant, plan for adversity, think ahead and pay attention. The rewards for this are a moving and amazing experience few ever have, a memory of mystery, awe and wonder to treasure always.












The Coming Of Dusk Makes The Glow Of The Lava Visible (photo by Donald B. MacGowan).

If you are planning on viewing the lava at night, be sure to remember that there will be no open gas stations or restaurants when you depart the Park until you reach either Kona or Hilo…plan accordingly, think ahead.


The Eruption Cloud Where Lava Is Flowing Into The Sea Is Visible Many Miles Away Down The Coast From Na’alehu (photo by Donald B. MacGowan).

View videos of the Kilauea eruption here and here; for more information on visiting Hawaii in general and touring the Big Island in particular, visit www.tourguidehawaii.com and here.

Deeper and Deeper into Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

As you continue driving around and exploring Hawaii Volcanoes National Park you will find many great hiking and bicycling opportunities. Tour Guide has some 50 sights to see in the park and has details such as, parking, food and water and restroom facilities along the way.

One of the best day hikes in the park is the Kilauea Iki Crater Trail. This four mile round trip hike, about three hours at a nominal pace, will descend into the crater itself. From the floor of the crater, you will see fern, Ohia, and tropical rainforest crowding right up to the rim. The floor itself is stark desert, by comparison, as the trail takes you across and then up the other side. Make sure to bring plenty of water and maybe even some snacks for this hike.

To see even more of the parks wonders, we at Tour Guide suggest a drive down the Chain of Craters Road. This drive unlocks dozens more sights, hikes and vistas from high mountain rainforest to the barren lava landscapes and scenic ocean views below. Along this road are a number of overlooks for some fabulous photography. It ends at the sea where waves crash and spew against cliffs with steam clouds in the distance where lava reaches the ocean. Let’s see what this stunning area has to offer.

Lua Manu is a pit crater formed before written records were kept of the eruptive activity in the park. You will notice no cinder around the rim. This indicates no eruption here but a lava lake that formed inside the pit. As it drained, the pit collapsed, the latest of which was in 1974.

There are several more pit craters to see along this route and then you will come to Hilina Pali Road. This nine mile road takes you to some of the most magical views of the National Park. From forest down to the coast, the breathtaking scenery with leave you with the awe and majesty of Mother Nature and Madam Pele. For the hearty campers, Tour Guide will lead you to Kulanaokuaiki Campground. There are restrooms here but no water is available. At the end of Hilina Pali Road is an overlook not to be missed.

Back on Chain of Craters Road, Tour Guide brings you to Puahi Crater, a large hourglass shaped crater that has held lava from many different flows over the years. Most recently, the 1979 earthquakes opened the south rift of the crater and issued steam and lava fountains. Though this episode only lasted one day, it was precursor to the current flows from Pu’u O’o in 1983 that destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses miles away in the Puna District.

Tour Guide will guide you to Kipuka Kahali’i. A kipuka is a hole or space where the lava surrounded forest or grassland but did not burn it. This one was partially devastated by the 1969 hot ash eruption of Mauna Ulu. The tallest trees survived and some hearty species of plants have returned.

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

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.


Driving south on Hwy 270, just past the town of Hawi, you will see the turn off for Hwy 250 on the mountain side of the road. This hwy will take you over Kohala Mountain to the town of Waimea. This hwy is rated by AAA Travel as one of the top 10 most scenic highways in the U.S. Along the way you will pass through beautiful pasture lands, areas for horseback riding, ranch style dinners, ATV tours and Hummer tours. Tour Guide will give the history of this area as well as activities offered here.

At the other end of Hwy 250 is Waimea. This town is known for the paniolo, the Hawaiian word for cowboy, and the Parker Ranch. At 3500 ft elevation, the cooler climate is perfect for growing all sorts of fruits and vegetables as well as a variety of livestock. There are also some fabulous restaurants featuring some of the best chefs in the world. Tour Guide will tell you about the storied history, museums, tours, shopping and dining. For such a small town there is a lot to do here.

From Waimea, it’s time to head south on Hwy 190 on our way back to Kona. Along the way is Waikoloa Village. This is mostly a residential town but is built around the Waikoloa Village Golf Course. This Robert Trent Jones Jr. designed course has some stunning views from the 2000 ft elevation. Tour Guide will show you where there is a shopping center with grocery, restrooms, restaurants and a gas station.

Super Tip: Finding restrooms on the road can be difficult when you are driving in unfamiliar territory. Tour Guide has a special feature that helps you to find the nearest public restroom anywhere you are on the island. This is super handy when touring with the family.

Along the way back to Kona, you will pass some of the finest beaches and most interesting historical and cultural spots on the Kona-Kohala Coast. Tour Guide can tell you all about these fascinating places, as well as opportunities here for whale watching, wild-life viewing, hiking and sight-seeing.

From Waikoloa Village, continue driving south on Hwy 190, about 30 minutes, until you arrive back in Kona. Tour Guide will give you turn-by-turn directions to your resort to end you’re second day of touring by car.