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by Donald B. MacGowan

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Rainbow Falls, Hilo Hawaii: Graphic from Photo by Donnie MacGowan

There are many wondrous, enigmatic and fascinating attractions on the Big Island of Hawaii, some better known than others, many out of the way and generally off the beaten track.  Tour Guide Hawaii has produced an encyclopedic collection of the most up-to-date information, presented as short GPS-cued videos, in an app downloadable to iPhone and iPod Touch that covers the entire Big Island, highlighting the popular and the uncrowded, the famous and the secluded, the adventurous and the relaxing.

Hilo Town

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Hilo's east side is famous for it's numerous, lovely if tiny, beach parks, Leiiwi Beach, Hilo Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Beautiful but wet, metropolitan but decrepit, bustling but laid back, Hilo is a lovely, maddening, heartbreaking, addictive study in contrasts.

In can rain all day long for 50 days in a row, yet when the sun does shine, the views of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea from the Liliuokalani Gardens, or of Hilo Bay as you drive down from the mountains on Kaumana Drive, or the rain-forest and waterfall choked gulches leading to lovely small beaches along the highway north of town, make Hilo one of the most truly achingly lovely spots on earth.

Once the prosperous center of the Hawaii sugar industry, Hilo no longer attracts the amount of visitors, residents or industry required to thrive economically. She is now the seat of political power and dictates policy to the rest of the island.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

An eclectic mix of stores and restaurants energizes Hilo's downtown Bayfront Shops, Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

In recent years, Hilo has experienced a renaissance in Hawaiian language and hula. The Merrie Monarch Hula Festival held in April each year, named for King David Kalakaua who revived the hula after the missionaries banned it in the 1800’s, is now world famous and attracts hula halau (or hula schools) from as far away as Texas, California, Japan and Chile, for a week long competition and celebration of hula. Hawaiian Studies are taught along side American history in the school system here and the University of Hawaii has a campus in Hilo that specializes in marine biology and rainforest ecologies.

A cornucopia of fascinating things to see and do, Hilo has something for everybody. Hilo has the largest, most diverse farmer’s market on the island. The new ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center and Planetarium is a world-class attraction and definitely worth a visit. Hilo hosts the only rainforest zoo in the U.S at Pana’ewa as well as the award-winning Pacific Tsunami Museum in downtown. You can discover how the missionaries lived and explore the natural history of the island at the Lyman House Museum. The numerous beach parks along the eastern shoreline of the bay are true gems of tropical delight and great places to snorkel and sunbathe. The formal Queen Liliuokalani Gardens are restful, peaceful and beautiful. If shopping is your goal, Hilo has not one but two malls and the unique, old-town shopping district at the Bayfront is fabulously interesting and historic.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Due to short-sighted greed and insane urban planning over the decades, Hilo's once magnificent mile-long black sand beach is a mere hollow echo of its former beauty: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

If nothing else, take a moment to walk the mile-long black sand beach fronting Hilo Bay…it was here that Kamehameha the Great assembled his party of 10,000 war canoes to begin his conquest of the islands; here that the missionaries established the first major port and here that the sugar industry flourished for several generations. It was here that the tsunamis of recent years visited death and destruction on the unsuspecting residents of Hilo, not once but twice in the last century. To stop here and absorb the history, to open yourself to the sunlit tropical beauty and stand in the pulsing ocean surf, is to truly soak in Hawaii.

Beautiful Hilo by the bay, from the funky old-Hawaii Bayfront shops to the steamy bustle of downtown, Hilo is truly old style with a modern twist and is a cool stop when on the east side of the Big Island. For those less enamored of Hilo, a darker vision of it is presented here.

Hilo and the Tsunamis of 1946 and 1960

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

The lush jungle explodes right up to the edge of Hilo Bay, Hilo Hawaii. All this area was wiped clean by the tsunamis of 1948 and 1960: Photo by Prescott Ellwood

It is not possible to understand Hilo’s current geography without understanding her past tragedies with tsunamis. Of all the natural disasters to which Hawai’i is prone; earthquake, hurricane, volcanic eruption, flooding, more Hawai’ians have died in tsunamis, and more property has been destroyed in their wake, than any other violent act perpetrated by nature.

April Fool’s Day 1946, at a quarter to seven in the morning, Hilo and the rest of East Hawai’i were struck by a tsunami that had been spawned by violent earth movements far to the north in the Aleutian Trench. With no warning, line after line of fifty foot waves overwhelmed the town sea wall, sweeping buildings landward, smashing them into the buildings behind them. Photographs taken of Hilo that morning, after the floods had receded, show a landscape littered with pieces of smashed buildings, cars stacked crazily atop each other, wreckage and muck everywhere. Out of 159 fatalities statewide from this tsunami, a staggering 96 were residents of Hilo, mostly from “Little Tokyo” on the Waiakea Peninsula.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

From this aerial view of Hilo, Hawaii, it is easy to see how the "bowl shape" of Hilo Bay focused the tsunami waves right on to downtown: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

With that kind of “Can Do” spunk and spirit which characterizes the best of human endeavors, but which just as often sadly presage acts of great hubris which result in absolute calamity, Little Tokyo was rebuilt on the same spot. Christening the rebuilt village “Shinmachi”, or “New Town”, residents of this low-lying area became forgetful and complacent about tsunamis as several “tidal waves” during the late forties and fifties had amounted to little more than big surf.

An earthquake off the coast of Chile on 26 May, 1960 created a giant tsunami that sped westward towards Hawai’i at speeds estimated in excess of 440 miles an hour. Slamming into Hawai’i at a few minutes past one in the morning, three immense waves penetrated the city, once again laying waste and destroying everything. Although the tsunami sirens were wailing, many people ignored them because the most recent tsunamis had been so tame. 61 people died that morning and property damage exceeded $20 million.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

A peaceful afternoon fishing at Waiakea Fishpond. Wailoa Park, in Hilo Hawaii, was established from the devastation and ruins of downtown Hilo after the tsunami of 1960, to act as a buffer in future tsunamis: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

The devastated area of Shinmachi was not rebuilt this time; rather, it was dedicated permanently as park land, a kind of buffer for the rest of Hilo against some future tsunamis’ depredations. The Waiakea Tsunami Clock Memorial, with the clock hands still stuck at 1:04, the moment the waves struck, stands as testament to the hubris of rebuilding in an area that was twice destroyed in just 14 years.

Waiakea Peninsula, Resort Area on Hilo Bay

Waiakea Town Tsunami Clock Memorial

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

The Waiakea Tsunami Clock, Hilo Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

The Waiakea Tsunami Clock Memorial, with the clock hands still stuck at 1:04, the moment the waves of the tsunami of May 26, 1960 struck Hilo, stands on the grounds of the Naniloa Country Club as testament to the ill fortune of rebuilding in this area, twice destroyed by tsunami in just 14 years. A fitting memorial to the 61 residents of Hilo who were killed in that disaster, the clock reminds us that most of those fatalities were residents of Shinmachi, or “New Town”, a Japanese enclave erected directly on the ruins of Little Tokyo which was destroyed by tsunami just fourteen years earlier. The Memorial is along Kalanianaole Street between the two arms of Banyan Drive.

Banyan Drive

Circling through the Naniloa Country Club Golf Course, out along the Waiakea Peninsula and in front of the main Hilo resorts, Banyan Drive is a trip to Hawai’i’s Golden Age. Lined by giant Banyan trees, planted between the nineteen thirties and nineteen fifties by such celebrities and dignitaries as King George V, Cecil B. DeMille, Babe Ruth, Amelia Earhart and Richard Nixon, Banyan Drive also gives access to Reed’s Bay Beach Park, Coconut Island and Queen Liliuokalani Gardens. The Waiakea Town Tsunami Clock Memorial is along Kalanianaole Street between the two arms of Banyan Drive.

Coconut Island

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The bridge to Coconut Island, Hilo Bay, Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

A small island at the tip of the Waiakea Peninsula, Coconut Island, or Moku Ola–the “island of life” to Hawai’ians, is today the site of a charming park. Accessed by a footbridge from near the entrance to the Queen Liliuokalani Gardens, Coconut Island is a popular fishing and swimming spot with locals. Moku Ola was, in times past, a Pu’u Honua, or Place of Refuge, an important place for commoners accused of breaching the law. Later, a large wharf made it the central shipping point in Hilo Bay, before the breakwater was built.

Queen Liliuokalani Gardens

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Queen Liliuokalani Gardens, Hilo Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Named for Hawai’i’s last Queen, these 30-acre formal gardens along Hilo Bay have two miles of paths that wind through the streams, over the bridges and along the pagodas and stone lanterns which make a spectacular place to walk and watch the rising sun light up Hilo Bay and Mauna Kea, or the sunset behind the mountains. These gardens are a very special place and deserve to be thoroughly explored.

Hilo Bayfront Area

Bayfront Park

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Even when the weather is threatening, Hilo Bayfront Park is a lovely place to play, Hilo Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

At one time, a furious surf raked a long black sand beach that once fronted Hilo. From here, Kamehameha launched his war fleet of 1200 canoes on his conquests of the other Hawai’ian Islands. Here, generations of Hawai’ians strolled the coconut tree-lined beach, watching sunrises, spotting dolphin and whale, waiting for the fishing fleet to return from the day’s toil, doing all those things which all people, everywhere, do strolling along a beautiful beach. No doubt they said to each other the same thing today’s residents of Hawai’i say to themselves every day: “Lucky we live Hawai’i!”

Today, tamed by the breakwater that protects Hilo from the ravages of the turbulent ocean, there is still a three thousand foot remnant of now grey-sand beach along the Hilo Bayfront Park. Squozen between the bay and the road, this long, narrow park is phenomenally popular with local surfers and fisherman and is the launching spot of outrigger canoe enthusiasts. It is not much for swimming because the water is cloudy and cold and it makes for dismal snorkeling; still, it is a lovely place to watch the sunrise and to stroll with someone special.

Wailoa River Park

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Wailoa River Park, Hilo Hawaii: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

Wailoa Park is a peaceful, bucolic and broad expanse of rolling lawns, coconut palms, gardens, ponds and soccer fields following the lazy path of the Wailoa River into Hilo Harbor, on the land where the Japanese enclave of Shinmachi stood before the Tsunami of 1946. Reached by Pauahi Street off either Kamehameha Avenue or Kilauea St, this enormous park is home to the Tsunami Memorial, the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial, Waiakea Fish Pond and the Wailoa Center, an arts and community activities center.

The park is also home to the world famous Kamehameha Statue. During the reign of Kamehameha the Great, Hilo was an agricultural backwater in Hawai’ian society. In fact, it was so isolated and cut-off from regular travel routes, that Kamehameha commissioned his craftsmen to build him an armada of 1200 war canoes here, knowing that it would never occur to spies to search there for evidence of war preparations.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

King Kamehameha Statue in Wailoa Park, Hilo Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

The statue of Kamehameha in Wailoa River Park serves as a focal point for celebrations and ceremonies among native Hawai’ian groups and for holiday parades.

Downtown Hilo

Pacific Tsunami Museum

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Pacific Tsunami Museum, Hilo Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

One of the most spectacularly destructive of natural disasters, more Hawai’ians have died in tsunamis than all other natural disasters combined. This brilliantly-done museum discusses, educates, elucidates and scares the bejesus out of you on the topic of Pacific basin tsunamis generally, and about those which have affected Hawai’i in particular. The films, multi-media presentations, photos, artifacts and interactive computer displays are as interesting as they are informative. The docents are extremely well-informed; in fact, many are survivors of Hilo’s tsunamis which gives this museum experience an angle of reality you cannot get elsewhere.

Bay Front Shops and Old Downtown

Fun, busy, interesting; the shops and restaurants in the area along Hilo’s Bayfront Park are housed in beautiful, historic buildings which have survived the ravages of two tsunamis, one in 1946 and again in 1960. Everything between these buildings and Hilo Bay was destroyed in these disasters; fearing further destruction, Hilo’s leaders have turned the vulnerable landscape into large, municipal parks.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Hilo Bayfront Shops, Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Along the Bayfront shopping area boutiques, restaurants, antique stores, a museum, theaters, street performers, the farmer’s market and all manner of fun and interesting diversions are to be found here. There is ample parking at the park across the street; public restrooms, a police substation and information booth is also located there.

Mokupapapa Discovery Center

An exciting, interesting, recent addition to Hilo’s cultural life, the Mokupapapa Discovery Center is designed as an interpretive center for the natural science, culture, and history of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. The Center boasts interactive computer displays, three-dimensional models, an immersion theater, murals and well-informed staff. There is even a 2,500-gallon salt-water aquarium with representative fish from the Hawai’i reefs. Using working robot arms in a submersible vehicle mock-up, visitors can even experience descending in the Undersea Research Laboratory’s Pisces V submersible down into the ocean depths off Hawai`i.

The Mokupapapa Discovery Center is free to the public and open Tuesday through Saturday 9AM to 4 PM, except Federal Holidays.

Hilo Farmer’s Market

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Hilo Farmer's Market, Hilo Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Free-wheeling, fun, big and full of surprises, the Farmer’s Market in Hilo is more like a fair than a farmer’s market…food, produce, clothing, jewelry, tourist items, art, Hawai’iana, souvenirs and even street performers make this place one of the more interesting things to see when in Hilo. Open dawn to dusk, Wednesday through Sunday and even most holidays, the Hilo Farmer’s Market is even a good time in the infamous Hilo rain.

Maui Canoe

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Maui Canoe, Hilo Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Hawai’ian legends tell us the Hina, the mother of the demi-god Maui, lived in the cave under Rainbow Falls. A mo’o, or sea monster, beset her, and attempted to drown her by damming the river and flooding her cave. Coming to her rescue, Maui paddled his canoe with such strength that, upon crashing into the island, his canoe turned to stone.

Maui’s canoe can be seen in the Wailuku River at the north end of Keawe Street from the Pu’ueo Street Bridge.

Lyman House Museum

Too rainy to venture out on the day you planned to visit the volcano? We are not surprised…but there is a brilliant alternative…the Lyman Museum and Missionary House. Their excellent and stimulating new installation, “Hawai’i Before Humans” takes you through the mouth of a lava tube into the beating heart of the volcano itself, through brilliantly developed multimedia presentations.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Lyman House Museum, Hilo Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

The rest of the Lyman Museum is an outstanding, artfully imagined and skillfully executed look at the impact that various waves of human immigration have had on Hawai’i, as well as the island’s natural history, geology and plant and wildlife biology. There is an outstanding rock and mineral collection from around the world which may seem out of place to the visitor, but remember this is the only place Hawai’ian school children can see something other than the ubiquitous basalt and coral, the basic building blocks of the island.

The Lyman Museum is a “must see” and the $10 entry fee is well worth paying.

Naha and Pinao Stones

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Pinao and Naha Stones, Hilo Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

It was prophesied that the man who could overturn the Naha Stone would lead the armies which would unite the Hawai’ian Islands into a single nation and then become their first King. The penalty for attempting this feat and failing was instant death. It is said that the young Kamehameha, at age 14, approached the 7000 pound stone which was, at that time, stuck into the surrounding soil.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Wailuku River Park, Hilo Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Of the many legends surrounding Kamehameha the Great, those of his great, brutish strength are the most taxing of credulity. Straining and trying to move the stone, he struggled for hours in vain. Just as the priests were moving in to take him to his sacrificial death, he made one last, enormous effort, overturning the rock. From that moment on, Kamehameha was considered a royal contender, a youth to be reckoned with. Although he had many more battles, trials and political fights in his future, his supporters could now claim Kamehameha was the Chosen of the gods.

The origins upright Pinao stone are much less certain, but it has long been associated with the Pinao Heiau that once stood on the Wailuku River, near the site of the Library.

‘Imiloa Astronomy Center

Billed as “Where Astronomy meets Hawaiian Culture.”, ‘Imiloa seeks “To celebrate Hawaiian culture and Mauna Kea astronomy, sharing with the world an inspiring example of science and culture united to advance knowledge, understanding and opportunity“.

‘Imiloa’s digital full-dome planetarium creates a spectacular experience of immersion.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Dramatic Wailuku River above Rainbow Falls, Hilo Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Museum exhibits are organized into two main categories: the Origins exhibits explore the origins of the universe, solar system and life on earth; the Explorations exhibits concentrate on explorations by Polynesian navigators, space explorations and explorations of the universe from the Mauna Kea observatories. ‘Imiloa’s award-winning grounds spotlight Hawaii’s ecosystem, including living examples of endemic, indigenous, and Polynesian-introduced plants (or “canoe plants”). Other facilities onsite include the Sky Garden Restaurant and the Imiloa Bank of Hawaii Museum Store.

West Hilo Parks and Waterfalls

Wailuku River Park/Rainbow Falls

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Rainbow Falls During Monsoon, Hilo Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

The subject of recent and ancient legend, Rainbow Falls is the lovely emblem of Hilo town. The cave beneath Rainbow Falls is said to have been the home of Hina, mother of the demi god Maui, who brought fire to mankind. It is also said to be the place where Kamehameha buried his father’s bones.

The characteristic wishbone shape of Rainbow falls is best seen at moderate river flows…too little water and only a single drizzle remains, too much runoff and the falls merge into a single, roaring flume. A remarkable and lovely waterfall, the rainbows within it, which are the emblem of the state of Hawai’i, are best seen in the mid to late morning.

Follow the trail to the left along the river bank to delightful swimming and wandering; please note, however, that swimming in rivers and near falling water is dangerous. Don’t go in if the current is swift or if recent rains have swollen the river. You can learn more about Rainbow Falls, here.

Wailuku River Park/Boiling Pots

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Swimming and diving are favorite activities at Boiling Pots on the Wailuku River in Hilo, Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Wild swimming, a jungle of ferns and blossoms, forest solitude and a raging river, all within a few miles of downtown Hilo! Boiling pots is a short section of rapids in the Wailuku River between Pe’epe’e Falls and Rainbow Falls that is popular with locals for swimming, cliff diving and body surfing the rapids. Set in an emerald jungle canyon, the river is an open invitation to cool off for visitors who may be unaccustomed to Hilo’s climate of fierce heat and unrelenting humidity.

If swimming is in your plans, however, be very, very careful; conditions at Boiling Pots are not as benign as they seem and can change instantly with a minor cloudburst anywhere upstream.

East Hilo Parks and Beaches

Loko Waka Fishponds

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Rainbow at Lokowaka Fishpond, Hilo Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Madame Pele is famed for her fits of jealousy and pique over her many, many human lovers. Here at Loko Waka, Pele battled the mo’o named Waka, a lizard woman-sea monster. Waka apparently had been romancing one of Pele’s favored courtiers. Seeking to escape Pele’s wrath, Waka dove into the Loko, or pond; she has remained as the guardian of the fish there ever since.

Loko Waka, a productive aquacultural fish pond for many generations, has a fascinating hydrologic configuration, cycling over 100,000,000 gallons of water a day through its porous sides and bottom. Today the pond serves as a site of scientific research and as a source of fish for the Seaside Restaurant, which has been operated by two generations of the same family, serving world-renowned, five-star meals on this site.

Onekahakaha County Beach Park

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Morning at Onekahakaha Park, Hilo Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Of the long strip of shoreline encompassed by this park, the most popular swimming is on the east side, across Kalanianaole Street from Loko Waka Fishponds. Here, two protected pools beckon swimmers; the one on the right is sandy and perfect for small or uncertain swimmers, the one of the left is rockier and filled with “vana”, or sea urchins.

Snorkeling is fair at Onekahakaha Beach, and locals seem to be able to coax good rides out of the diminutive surf on both boogie and long boards.

Leiiwi Beach Park

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

The shoreline of East Hilo, Hawaii is punctuated with small, but gorgeous, beach parks: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

A real jewel of a beach park, Leiiwi is a collection of tidepools, tidal ponds, lawns and rocks shaded by great palm trees, African tulips and hala trees. This park is one of the better places to pass a day at the beach in the Hilo area. Picnic tables, pavilions, barbecue pits, water and clean restrooms comprise the infrastructure at this lovely park.

Richardson Beach Park

The almost universal experience of visitors to Hawai’i is that, although it is certainly beautiful, delightful and a unique, special place, no matter what pre-conceptions a traveler may bring about Hawai’i, their experience is a bit different to what they expected. Richardson Beach Park, with its towering palms, fresh water pools, delightful surf, secluded and calm tidepools, lawns and general ambiance of tropical paradise, is almost certainly very close to what most visitors expect from Hawai’i—hence its popularity. If you are here on one of the two or three sunny days Hilo will have this year, Richardson Beach Park is perhaps the most lovely, calming and inviting place on the East side of the island. Views of Mauna Kea at sunrise and sunset from this beach are unparalleled.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Morning at Richardson Beach Park, Hilo Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

The snorkeling here along the small black sand beach is the best of the Hilo area and the surf is a busy mix of beginner to intermediate level waves. Hawai’i County Division of Aquatics is located at this park; lots of interesting information is available from these friendly, helpful folks.

Frequented by dolphins and sea turtles, the near-shore water is a little cold when getting in, due to fresh water springs, but soon warms-up a few dozen yards from shore. The currents and surf can occasionally be tricky here, so heads-up, pay attention to what the lifeguard is advising.

South Hilo

Hilo’s Busy Commercial Center: Puainako Center, Prince Kuhio Mall, Waiakea Center

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Inside Prince Kuhio Mall, Hilo Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

The beating heart of the Hilo commercial center, Prince Kuhio Mall and Waiakea Center sit adjacent to each other across Maka’ala Street and Puainako Center sits across Kanoelehua Street from both.

Within this commercial area are several major chain grocery stores and pharmacies, many outstanding restaurants, “big-box” discount stores, office supply stores, travel agencies, banks, music, book and clothing stores, cosmetician shops, real estate agents, insurance agencies, law offices and all the chain stores one normally associates with a major metropolitan shopping mall.

In addition to several first-rate restaurants sprinkled around this commercial center, Prince Kuhio Mall and Waiakea Center also have food courts which feature not only national-chain fast food establishments, but also fine local food restaurants, as well.

Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Namaste, the cross-eyed, white Bengal Tiger at Pana'ewa Rainforest Zoo, Hilo Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

On the south edge of Hilo, located 1 mile off the highway headed to Puna, Kea’au and Volcano on Mamaki St, is the small, but interesting, Pana’ewa Zoo. The admission price is the best deal in Hawai’i: it’s free, as are the loaner umbrellas—a tacit recognition of Hilo’s sometimes overtly tropical weather.

The most interesting part of the zoo are the endangered bird exhibits, but children will enjoy the petting zoo and Namaste, the cross-eyed, white Bengal Tiger.

All the amenities generally associated with zoos, including ever-present, strutting peacocks, are present here.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Early morning light on Mauna Loa from downtown Hilo, Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

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

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Mauna Kea from Downtown Hilo, Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

For independent reviews of our product, written by some of our legions of satisfied customers, please check this out.

All media copyright 2009 by Donald B. MacGowan. All rights reserved.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Kamehameha Statue, Wailoa Park, Hilo Hawaii: Graphic from Photo by Donnie MacGowan

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by Donald B. MacGowan

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Welcome to Honoka'a: Graphic from Photo by Donnie MacGowan

There are many wondrous, enigmatic and fascinating attractions on the Big Island of Hawaii, some better known than others, many out of the way and generally off the beaten track.  Tour Guide Hawaii has produced an encyclopedic collection of the most up-to-date information, presented as short GPS-cued videos, in an app downloadable to iPhone and iPod Touch that covers the entire Big Island, highlighting the popular and the uncrowded, the famous and the secluded, the adventurous and the relaxing.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

There are lots of intersting stores in Downtown Honoka'a, Hamakua Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Honoka’a Town

Built in the era of great plantations and left culturally and economically isolated after the collapse of the sugar industry, until recently Honoka’a and the Hamakua Coast were content to drowse along through the decades. A boom in real estate and a return of vital human energy to the area has made a literal renaissance of the town of Honoka’a.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Hononka'a has an fascinating downtown shopping area, Hamakua Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

A bustling hub, it boasts numerous wonderful restaurants, gift and boutique shops and the highest density of antique shops on the island. Honoka’a, located between Hilo and Waimea on Highway 19, is also the gateway both to the Kalopa State Recreation Area and Waipi’o Valley.  Be sure to stop to explore a little, have a meal or do some shopping in scenic Honoka’a on your way to or from Waipi’o Valley…it’s a fun, happening kind of place. Just remember, it’s a “happening kind of place” in the Hawai’ian sense—which means a little laid back, and always steeped with aloha.

Waipi'o Valley, just outside Honoka'a Town on the Hamakua Coast Hawaii Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Waipi'o Valley, just outside Honoka'a Town on the Hamakua Coast Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Driving out of Honoka’a, remnants of old sugar mills, fields and feral cane can still be seen. When Captain Cook came to the Islands in 1778, only wild sugar cane was growing. In 1834 the first successful sugar plantation company marked the beginning of Hawaii’s love affair with raising sugar. Sugar production provided the Hawaiian Islands with an economic foundation, allowing a cosmopolitan society to flourish.

Waipi'o Valley, just outside Honoka'a Town on the Hamakua Coast Hawaii Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Hamakua sugar cane gwoing wild just outside Honoka'a, Hawaii Photo by Donnie MacGowan

At the time of Statehood, one out of every twelve people employed in Hawaii was in the sugar industry, the agricultural workers were the highest paid in the world. However, unable to compete in the global sugar market, the Hawaiian sugar industry declined in the 1980s and the last plantation closed at Pahala in 1992.

Waipi'o Valley, just outside Honoka'a Town on the Hamakua Coast Hawaii Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Downtown Honoka'a, Hamakua Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Though the business is gone, what is left are the people who once worked the fields and mills. The melding of the rich cultures of Japanese, Chinese, Filipinos, Portuguese, and others is what gives today’s unique Hawaii lifestyle its flavor.

Waipi'o Valley, just outside Honoka'a Town on the Hamakua Coast Hawaii Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Honoka'a's characterisitic Western-style false-front storefronts in the downtown shopping area, Hamakua Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Visitors will notice the distinctly “Western” tone in the architecture of many of the buildings in Honoka’a, the Western style of dress of many residents and the ubiquitous cowboy hats. Although ranching and rodeo may seem a bit of a mixed metaphor when thinking about Hawaii, the cattle business in Hawaii is older than anywhere in the other Western United States and is an integral part of the history, and the rebirth of Honoka’a.

Waipi'o Valley, just outside Honoka'a Town on the Hamakua Coast Hawaii Photo by Donnie MacGowan

A Jackson's Chameleon explores downtown Honoka'a: Photo by Donnie MacaGowan

More about the sugar and ranching industries in Hawaii can be found here and here.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

At the Mouth of Waipi'o Valley, just outside Honoka'a Town on the Hamakua Coast, Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

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

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Everett Maynard explores Honoka'a, Hamakua Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

For independent reviews of our product, written by some of our legions of satisfied customers, please check this out.

All media copyright 2009 by Donald B. MacGowan. All rights reserved.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand. Interactive maps, GPS and WiFi enabled, dozens of videos…available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

There are also numerous, fun shops with a more touristy feel in Honoka'a as well, Hamakua Coast Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

by Donald B. MacGowan

At Ho'okena Beach, Kona Hawaii: Graphic from Photo by Donnie MacGowan

There are many wondrous, enigmatic and fascinating attractions on the Big Island of Hawaii, some better known than others, many out of the way and generally off the beaten track.  Tour Guide Hawaii has produced an encyclopedic collection of the most up-to-date information, presented as short GPS-cued videos, in an app downloadable to iPhone and iPod Touch that covers the entire Big Island, highlighting the popular and the uncrowded, the famous and the secluded, the adventurous and the relaxing.

Ho’okena Beach County Park at Kauhako Bay

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Looking south at Ho'okena Beach, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Brilliant snorkeling, decent boogie boarding, passable shell collecting and wonderful camping—it’s a wonder Ho’okena Beach is not more popular with visitors. Nestled alongside the ruins of Ho’okena Village at Kauhako Bay, this beach is a wonderful place to spend a morning or a weekend.

To reach Ho’okena Beach Park, take the turnoff between mile markers 101 and 102 just south of the town of Ho’okena. The narrow road drops steeply to the beach affording magnificent views of the Kona Coast, especially at sunset. Once you reach the bottom stay left through the minuscule village to the beach park, hemmed between lush tropical vegetation and soft warm sands, under majestic cliffs and swaying palm trees—truly a vision of paradise.

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Patient parent at Ho'okena Beach, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

The once-thriving Ho’okena Village, which in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was the main rival to Kailua Kona for steamer traffic, was a major transshipment point for beef, sugar and mail, and once was host to author Robert Louis Stevenson. Ho’okena’s glory is now all but forgotten, a victim of ravaging of tsunamis, storms, earthquakes and the quiet passing of time. Today, the small cluster of dwellings at the beach, the stumpy remnant footings of Kupa Wharf and the ruins the village are all that remain.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Ho'okena boogie boarding and Big Smiles, Ho'okena Beach, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Frequented by dolphin, stuffed full of pelagic and reef fish and turtles and boasting crystal clear, warm and calm waters, Ho’okena is a must-see beach and reef complex for avid snorkelers and divers as well as sea kayakers. During the winter months, female Humpback whales and their babies frequent the waters off this bay.

Folks generally snorkel in two main areas at Ho’okena. The first is easy and obvious to find; simply follow the tongue of sand, straight out from the left-hand side of the beach. This provides the easiest entry and safest snorkeling; lots of fascinating underwater topography, beautiful coral heads and abundant colorful fish are seen here and north towards the old pier in fairly shallow water. The underwater visibility in this spot can be less than ideal (although still great), but water clarity improves if you move south to the second area, to the far left of the beach.

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Discovery! Ho'okena Beach, Kona Hawaii Photo by Donnie MacGowan

To go there, enter the bay as above, but swim out south (left) of the beach past the rocky finger jutting out in to the water; here you will find some tremendously colorful and intensely beautiful little reefs. A small patch of coral to be sure, but the vivid colors are some of the most stunning you will see in shallow water. The gradient to the beach is steep and the bottom drops once you enter the water; snorkelers should be aware that they will find themselves in deep water rather quickly. Be wary when swimming very far out from shore, there are strong currents out in Kauhako Bay; do not go in if the surf is high…remember there is no lifeguard.

There is no shortage of exploration to do onshore, either. The many trails leading back from the beach lead to copses of tropical trees, abandoned Hawai’ian villages, strange, twisted lava forms and springs. Eventually most trails lead south to a few small, sandy beaches where ocean current conditions make shell collecting possible. In about a mile, you reach Kalahiki Beach, across Limukoko Point, a place of quiet spirituality and incredible beauty, though poor snorkeling.

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Yoga on the beach, Ho'okena Beach, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

You can also get here by hiking about 400 yards back above the beach along the road you drove in on, then south about a mile over the hills and through cow fields, down a little cliff and to Kalahiki Beach—it is very much worthwhile.

Bushwhacking inland through dense foliage brings one quickly to the ruins of Kalahiki Village and the famous, four-tiered heiau. Remember that these places are sacred to the Hawai’ians; if you go, go with respect for the Hawai’ians and malama aina in your heart. Do not litter, don’t disturb stone walls and platforms, do not take anything you didn’t bring with you, and take out everything you did bring in, when you leave.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Ho'okena Beach on a semi-cloudy day is still a hazard for sunburn, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Hiking north from the beach park along the lava bench, through small pockets of sand, you will pass the ruins of an old Catholic church. Abandoned after sustaining heavy damage in the late 1800s, it was reestablished up mauka between Honaunau and Captain Cook; you may know it as the “Painted Church”.   More ruins of Old Ho’okena Village lie overgrown in the jungle. After the church comes Kealia Beach, where, due to the cliffs, swimming is difficult but the snorkeling and near-shore scuba diving are excellent. Kealia Beach is also reachable by public road.

Hookena Beach on a semi-cloudy day is still a hazard for sunburn, Kona Hawaii Photo by Donnie MacGowan.jpg

Camping on Ho'okena Beach, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Although a County Park, camping at Ho’okena is handled through a private/public partnership with KUPA Ho’okena; reservations for camping can be made online (http://hookena.org/camping.html) or over the phone (808.328-7321). Same day reservations may be available on a first-come/first served basis, but advanced reservations are highly recommended—camping here is becoming ever more popular. Although there has been conflict in the past (sometimes quite violent) between locals and visitors, the park has become much safer since administration was taken over by KUPA Ho’okena. KUPA Ho’okena also rents, on-site, camping gear, masks/fins/snorkels and kayaks and has a snack stand.

Wonderful beach camping, new showers and restrooms, picnic tables and abundant fresh water make this county park a gem worth seeking out.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Outrigger fishing canoes rest at Ho'okena Beach, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

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

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Looking for waves, Ho'okena Beach, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

For independent reviews of our product, written by some of our legions of satisfied customers, please check this out.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Hard at Play, Ho'okena Beach, Kona Hawaii Photo by Donnie MacGowan

All media copyright 2009 by Donald B. MacGowan. All rights reserved.

by Donald B. MacGowan

There are many wondrous, enigmatic and fascinating attractions on the Big Island of Hawaii, some better known than others, many out of the way and generally off the beaten track.  Tour Guide Hawaii has produced an encyclopedic collection of the most up-to-date information, presented as short GPS-cued videos, in an app downloadable to iPhone and iPod Touch that covers the entire Big Island, highlighting the popular and the uncrowded, the famous and the secluded, the adventurous and the relaxing.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Waialea Beach on the Kohala Coast, Hawaii Graphic from Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Waialea Beach (Beach 69)

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Beautiful Waialea Beach, Kohala Coast Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

A perfect crescent of golden sand backed by abundant shade at the edge of the beach makes this an ideal, though little known, family beach. The beach is known locally as “Beach 69”, after the number on the telephone pole where the parking lot used to be—both pole and old parking lot are gone now, replaced by a new paved access road, parking lot and trail through the keawe breaks to the beach.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

The cliffs at Waialea Beach are teaming with life and offer fine snorkeling for strong swimmers, Koahla Coast Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Calmer, more protected and certainly less crowded than neighboring Hapuna Beach, Waialea is the perfect romantic getaway beach. Snorkeling here is fabulous when the surf is calm. In the water just behind the rocky pinnacle that splits the beach (right where the trail emerges from the trees) and along the rocks and point to the north are amazing displays of coral and fish.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Everett Maynard surveys the the tawny coral sands of Waialea Beach, which is mostly empty on weekdays, Kohala Coast Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Although the turquoise waters along the beach are perfectly clear for a morning snorkel, after about 11 a.m., and on windy days, the water in the bay is a tad murkier than ideal for snorkeling, but most of the visitors to this beach don’t seem to mind. Beyond the shore murkiness, a chain of tiny islands and pinnacles leads northward to crystalline water and a long coral reef for some of the most outrageous snorkeling and shore diving anywhere in the state.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Waialea Beach has interesting rocks with abundant sea life to snorkel around, Kohala Coast Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

A trail over the north headland leads to a secluded (often clothing optional) cove and then onward across small beaches and headlands about a mile to Hapuna Beach. Private property is adjacent to the trail along the way; please respect their privacy, don’t litter and keep passing through to the next beach.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Waialea Beach looking North, Kohala Coast: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Although most of the shoreline waters here are relatively free of strong currents, only experienced snorkelers who are strong swimmers will want to snorkel around the north end of Waialea, past the cove and the reef, past the sea arch and on to Hapuna—a long, but rewarding swim with some of the most incredible underwater vistas available to the snorkeler in the world.

Two caveats: this beach is a particular favorite with local folks and is crowded on weekends (but then, so are MOST beaches on the Big Island); and at high tide, there is precious little beach in front of the trees.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Although frequently a bit cloudy later in the day, early in the morning Waialea Beach offers crystalline waters, Kohala Hawaii: Coast Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Take the Puako Road exit from the highway and turn north toward Hapuna (just before Mile Marker 70). Before the road bends south toward the town of Puako, take the first right turn (an obvious, if narrow, road). Near Pole 71, the newly paved road and parking lot indicate the County Beach Park and the start of the short trail to the beach. Restrooms, picnic tables, water and showers round out the facilities. There are no lifeguards.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Sunny Waialea beach: sand, tidepools, snorkeling. Kohala Coast, Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

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

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Waialea Beach looking South, Kohala Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

For independent reviews of our product, written by some of our legions of satisfied customers, please check this out.

All media copyright 2009 by Donald B. MacGowan. All rights reserved.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Waialea Beach on the Kohala Coast, Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

by Donald B. MacGowan

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Waikupanaha lava ocean entry, Puna Hawaii: Graphic from Photo by Donnie MacGowan

There are many wondrous, enigmatic and fascinating attractions on the Big Island of Hawaii, some better known than others, many out of the way and generally off the beaten track.  Tour Guide Hawaii has produced an encyclopedic collection of the most up-to-date information, presented as short GPS-cued videos, in an app downloadable to iPhone and iPod Touch that covers the entire Big Island, highlighting the popular and the uncrowded, the famous and the secluded, the adventurous and the relaxing.

Waikupanaha Lava Ocean Entry

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Waikupanaha ocean entry, Puna Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Can you believe this? It’s absolutely outstanding and amazing! You can actually walk almost 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, spiritual experiences on earth…you must not miss this!

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Kupaianaha Vent on Kilauea Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Photo by Donald B MacGowan

Over the months and years, the lava river issuing from Pu’u O’o and Kupaianaha vents 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. You can check with the rangers about flow conditions by calling the eruption hotline at 808.985.6000; they have lots of useful, up to the minute information and can tell you the best way to approach these flows (for more information on touring Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, please go here; for information about hiking to the lava flows from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, please go here).

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Lae`apukii Ocean Entry Lava Flow Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

If the lava is flowing in the more eastern margin, onto County of Hawaii land, 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.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

As lava streams into the sea, the explosion cloud is visible for mile, Puna Hawaii: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

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. Information on the lava viewing area is available from the County of Hawaii at 808.961.8093.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Helicopter and Explosion Plume, Lava Ocean Entry at Waikupanaha, Puna Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Regardless of where the lava is entering the ocean, this is as far as hikers are allowed to go from this side. You should bring at least 2 quarts of water, a flashlight for hiking out in the dark, camera, food, first aid kit, and a rain jacket; wear a sun hat, sturdy hiking shoes, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt–those rocks are sharp!

Of course, you will need sunscreen and sunglasses (see these two articles for complete discussions of sunscreen and sunglasses appropriate for Hawaii). Over the years, we have found a stout hiking stick and an umbrella to be of good use as well. Photos and video are most spectacular just before and during dusk and into night; it is wise to bring a camera tripod. You will need flashlights or headlamps to negotiate the trail, hiking back in the dark.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Waikupanaha explosion plume, Puna Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

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; don’t wander away from the trail or the lava viewing area.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Plume at Waikupanaha Ocean Entry, Puna Hawaii: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

There are unusual, peculiar 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. Additionally, severe, but ephemeral, weather phenomenon occur in the explosion plume immediately offshore, such as lightening and water spouts (note water spout in photo at right).

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Lava enters the sea at Waikupanaha, Puna Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

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. The ocean near the lava entries is superheated and waves lapping on inviting black sand beaches can be scalding hot

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Streaming lava at Waikupanaha, Puna Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

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. Methane explosions occur with no notice, dozens if not a hundred feet ahead of flows, flinging huge blocks hundreds of feet. Thin lava crusts can hide lava tubes, caves, hollows and holes into which hikers occasionally fall and are caught.  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 judgment and experience.  Don’t walk on thins crusts over glowing rock, on hot rocks or rock that feels “spongy”, is crackling or hissing.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Hiking to see the lava in Puna Hawaii is serious business, take water, flashlights and appropriate footwear: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

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 County has marked a very safe trail to the lava; follow it closely, turning around frequently to acquaint yourself with landmarks for the hike back in the dark.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Flowing lava, open, steaming cracks and razor sharp rocks are why one should always follow the marked trail to Waikupanaha, Puna Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Be sure to take extra memory cards or film 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; take extra.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Hiking to the Waikupanaha lava ocean entry, Puna Hawaii: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Despite the inherent dangers of hiking over liquid rock, steaming and unstable ground along the ever-restless sea, very few hikers are injured here. This is only because people enter the goddess’s home with a sense of awe and great caution, and the County safety officers are very good about instilling fear and trepidation into the hearts of those who think themselves otherwise immune to the mortal dangers presented here.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Road signs to Waikupanaha Lava Viewing, Puna Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

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.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Magical Sunset at Waikupanaha lava ocean entry, Puna Hawaii: Photo by Donnie 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 Lava Viewing Area until you reach either Kona or Hilo…plan accordingly, think ahead.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Rain squalls are common at Waikupanaha; take raingear, Puna Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

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

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Littoral Explosions at Waikupanaha, Puna Hawaii: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

At Tour Guide our goal is to insure you have the most fun, most interesting and enjoyable vacation here in Hawaii–that you are provided with all the information you need to decide where to go and what to see, and that you are not burdened with out-dated or incorrect information.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Lava flowing just below the surface at Waikupanaha burns vegetation above the surface, Puna Hawaii: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

For independent reviews of our product, written by some of our legions of satisfied customers, please check this out.

All media copyright 2009 by Donald B. MacGowan. All rights reserved.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Lava explosions, Puna Hawaii: Graphic From Photo by Donnie MacGowan

by Donald B. MacGowan

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Kohala Mountain Road, Kohala Hawaii: Graphic from Photo by Donald B MacGowan

There are many wondrous, enigmatic and fascinating attractions on the Big Island of Hawaii, some better known than others, many out of the way and generally off the beaten track.  Tour Guide Hawaii has produced an encyclopedic collection of the most up-to-date information, presented as short GPS-cued videos, in an app downloadable to iPhone and iPod Touch that covers the entire Big Island, highlighting the popular and the uncrowded, the famous and the secluded, the adventurous and the relaxing.

Kohala Mountain Road

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Through the ironwood forests on the Kohala Mountain Road, Kohala Hawaii: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

Highway 250, the Kohala Mountain Road, is the direct, over the mountain connection from Waimea to the towns of Hawi and Kohala through the heart of ranching country. Cresting at over 3500 feet on Kohala Mountain, this almost 22-mile long road is one of the most scenic, but least driven, on the island.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Looking from Kohala Mountain to Mauna Kea, Kohala, Hawaii: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

Known for its panoramic views, its thick, drifting mists punctuating long, sunny days and wide open spaces separated by ironwood forests, the Kohala Mountain Road packs a lot of spectacular scenery characterized by ceaselessly changing moods in its short run. If you are traveling to the north end of Hawaii Island, this road is a highly-recommended scenic drive.

There is a scenic turnout, way above Kawaihae Town down on the coast, about 6 miles out of Waimea that should not be missed; it has one of the most commanding views in all Kohala. Sunset views of Haleakala on Maui and the Kohala Coast are especially fine from this turnout.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Fence line along Kohala Road, Kohala Hawaii: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

Offering spectacular views of Kohala, Mauna Kea and Hualalai Volcanoes, the Kohala Coast, forest and prairie, the Kohala Mountain Road leaves Waimea Town on its western margin at Lindsey Road. About a mile north out of town, the Kohala Mountain Road branches east (uphill) from the Kawaihae Road (Route 19), which runs down to the coast at Kawaihae Town. Coming from Hawi, take the main road north out of town, Hawi Road, from its intersection with the Akoni Pule Highway (Highway 270); from Kohala, take Kynnersley Road north from its intersection with Union Mill Road and the Akoni Pule Highway.

From a scenery standpoint, this road is beautiful going either direction, but is absolutely breath-taking headed south to north. There are no services of any kind between Waimea Town and Hawi.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Rainbow and Kohala Coast from Kohala Mountain Road, Hawaii: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

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

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Kawaihae Harbor from Kohala Mountain Road on a perfect Blue Hawaii Day--you cannot see where the sky begins or the ocean ends: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

At Tour Guide our goal is to insure you have the most fun, most interesting and enjoyable vacation here in Hawaii–that you are provided with all the information you need to decide where to go and what to see, and that you are not burdened with out-dated or incorrect information.

For independent reviews of our product, written by some of our legions of satisfied customers, please check this out.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Big Sky Views from the Enchantingly Scenic Kohala Mountain Road, Kohala Hawaii: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Kohala Mountain Road showcases the ranching heritage of the Big Island of Hawaii: Photo by Donald B MacGowan1

All media copyright 2009 by Donald B. MacGowan. All rights reserved.



by Donald B. MacGowan

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Ahalanui Hot Pond at Pu'ala;a County Park, Puna Hawaii: Graphic from Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

There are many wondrous, enigmatic and fascinating attractions on the Big Island of Hawaii, some better known than others, many out of the way and generally off the beaten track.  Tour Guide Hawaii has produced an encyclopedic collection of the most up-to-date information, presented as short GPS-cued videos, in an app downloadable to iPhone and iPod Touch that covers the entire Big Island, highlighting the popular and the uncrowded, the famous and the secluded, the adventurous and the relaxing.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Ahahanui Hot Pond at Pu'ala'a County Park, Puna Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Ahalanui Pond

Also called ”Pu’ala’a“ and “Secrets Beach”, this spring and ocean-fed, man made pool is a testament to the vagaries of life on an active volcano.  One of nature’s natural spas and “infinity pools”, the current pool structure was initially constructed when the springs ran chilly cold.  Eruptions in Puna during the ‘50s and 60’s reworked the subterranean waterworks and now the springs run hot and the pool is a comfortably warm 90-95 degrees or so.  This quiet park and the soul-refreshing hot pond are not the only reasons to leave the maddening crowds behind and explore Puna, but they are among the best.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Looking across Ahalanui Hot Pond at Pu'ala'a County Park in Puna, Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

The pool has easy access for almost anybody with stairs and ladder.  Deep enough for swimming or practicing snorkeling, the pool has an open connection to the ocean which flushes seawater and reef fish in at high tide, keeping the pool water freshened and the underwater scenery interesting. The bottom of the pool is sandy mud, comfortable on aching feet, but has a slight sulfurous smell.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Morning reflection in a hot spring near Ahalanaui Hot Pond at Pu'ala'a County Park, Puna Hawaii: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

With the gentle aloha breezes, swaying palms and surf whooshing against the seawall at the pool, it can be really hard to drag oneself out of the hot pool and continue on exploring…that’s OK, soak awhile longer.  You came to Hawai’i for rest, renewal and relaxation anyway, didn’t you?  This is a great place to do that. Check out the fabulous views of the Puna Coast and Pacific Ocean from the pool.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Threatening Sky at Pu'alala County Park, Puna Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Remember to be respectful and kind to environment,  other users and the fish by not applying sun block until after you exit the pool–if you are prone to sunburn, please wear a t-shirt and hat while in the pool.

Take Highway 130 south from Pahoa Town to where it dead-ends into Highway 137; turning right on 137 (the Kalapana-Kapoho Road), proceed to just past Mile Marker 10; Ahalanui Park is on the left. Admission and parking are free daily, dawn to dusk, and lifeguards are on duty.  Picnic tables, pavilions, pit barbecues, showers, lawns and all the pleasantries of a civilized park are available at Ahalanui Pond.  Leave no valuables in your car and be vigilant if you stay soaking here, after dark.

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

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Ahalanui Hot Pond: a profoundly relaxing and soul-refreshing natural spa at Pu'ala'a County Park, Puna Hawaii Photo by Donald B MacGowan_edited-1

At Tour Guide our goal is to insure you have the most fun, most interesting and enjoyable vacation here in Hawaii–that you are provided with all the information you need to decide where to go and what to see, and that you are not burdened with out-dated or incorrect information.

For independent reviews of our product, written by some of our legions of satisfied customers, please check this out.

All media copyright 2009 by Donald B. MacGowan. All rights reserved.

Tour Guide Hawaii, Your Friends in Paradise

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or http://www.tourguidehawaii.com.

by Donald B. MacGowan

iPhone and iPod Touch Video Tour Guide for Hawaii-fully GPS and WiFi enabled, fully interactive. Hours of interesting and compelling content. Available from iTunes or at www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Moiokini Heiau, Kohala Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Whether you visit the Big Island for a few days, a couple weeks or a few months, you want to make the most of your time in Paradise. With such a wide variety of natural and commercial attractions, it is natural for the visitor to get a little overwhelmed in the “Option Overload” and not be able to make a balanced and informed decision on what they want to do and how best to spend their time.

iPhone and iPod Touch Video Tour Guide for Hawaii-fully GPS and WiFi enabled, fully interactive. Hours of interesting and compelling content. Available from iTunes or at www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Kapakai Kokoiki (Kamehameha Akahi Aina Hanau) Heiau, Kohala Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Even choosing which beach you want to spend time on, or where you want to hike can be an exercise in confusion and conflicting advice.  Clearly, visitors to Hawaii could use help making quality decisions about how best to spend their time.

iPhone and iPod Touch Video Tour Guide for Hawaii-fully GPS and WiFi enabled, fully interactive. Hours of interesting and compelling content. Available from iTunes or at www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Offerings Left at Kapakai Kokoiki Heiau, Kohala Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Tour Guide Hawaii is excited and proud to announce the release of their new GPS/WiFi enabled App for iPhone and iPod that helps you navigate your trip to Hawaii with hours of informative, location-aware video and information. Although our video guide will lead you to dozens of unusual, untamed and unspoiled spots, let’s look at a pair of important historical sights reached via a great hike, or a really good mountain biking trek, that you might have heard about, but might not be able to find from maps and guidebooks and could otherwise miss if you did not have Tour Guide Hawaii’s new App.

Kohala History and the Birthplace of King Kamehameha: Mo’okini Luakini Heiau and Kapakai Kokoiki (Kamehameha Akahi Aina Hanau) Heiau

iPhone and iPod Touch Video Tour Guide for Hawaii-fully GPS and WiFi enabled, fully interactive. Hours of interesting and compelling content. Available from iTunes or at www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Holerhole Stone at Mo'okini Heiau, Kohala Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Introduction: Have you ever been somewhere stark, impressive, primitive and ancient, that was able to raise the hackles on your neck? Mo’okini Heiau on the windswept northern tip of Hawaii Island is just one such place.

iPhone and iPod Touch Video Tour Guide for Hawaii-fully GPS and WiFi enabled, fully interactive. Hours of interesting and compelling content. Available from iTunes or at www.tourguidehawaii.com.

A Windfarm on the Windswept Grasslands of Kohala, Near Mo'okini Heiau, Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

The history of Hawaii as a kingdom starts in the grasslands and jungle canyons of North Kohala at two prominent temples, or heiau, which were the respective foci of the swirl of great events and sweep of history that culminated in Kamehameha the Great’s creation of the Kingdom of Hawaii by conquering and uniting all the islands of Hawaii.

iPhone and iPod Touch Video Tour Guide for Hawaii-fully GPS and WiFi enabled, fully interactive. Hours of interesting and compelling content. Available from iTunes or at www.tourguidehawaii.com.

The Windswept Grasslands Around Mo'okini Heiau, Kohala Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

It was here in North Kohala, at Mo’okini Heiau, that a new religion was born. Passionate priests and princes from Tahiti reconstituted and revived the laws and society of Hawaii in the 11 and 12th centuries. New practices of religious worship were introduced and untold thousands of people were sacrificed at Mo’okini to worship a new god, the war god Kuka’ilimoku (also called “Ku”). Born nearby at Kapakai Kokoiki Heiau in about the year 1758, Kamehameha the Great was brought to Mo’okini for his birth rituals.

iPhone and iPod Touch Video Tour Guide for Hawaii-fully GPS and WiFi enabled, fully interactive. Hours of interesting and compelling content. Available from iTunes or at www.tourguidehawaii.com.

The Approach to Mo'okini Heiau, Kohala Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

History: During the 11th century, warlike Tahitians arrived in the Hawai’ian Islands, conquering, enslaving, sacrificing and largely displacing the descendants of the original Marquesan settlers. Into this bloody landscape came Pa’ao, the terrible and powerful Tahitian kahuna who was affronted at the lack of respect the Hawai’ian Ali’i commanded and at the apparent weakness of the Hawai’ian gods. He sent back to Tahiti for the warrior chief Pili and together they brought worship of the powerful war god Ku to Hawai’i and strengthened the kapu system of laws and power of the Ali’i.

iPhone and iPod Touch Video Tour Guide for Hawaii-fully GPS and WiFi enabled, fully interactive. Hours of interesting and compelling content. Available from iTunes or at www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Inside Mo'okini Heiau, Kohala Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Worship of Ku demanded human sacrifice, which was performed at luakini heiau throughout the parts of Polynesia where Ku was venerated. Pa’ao caused Mo’okini Heiau (literally meaning “many lineages”) to be raised (it is said to have happened in a single night) by as many as 20,000 men passing stones hand to hand from Pololu Valley, 14 miles distant. During this process, if a stone was dropped it was left where it lay to preserve the rhythm of passing; the scattered line of dropped stones can be followed all the way back to Pololu to this day.

iPhone and iPod Touch Video Tour Guide for Hawaii-fully GPS and WiFi enabled, fully interactive. Hours of interesting and compelling content. Available from iTunes or at www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Inner Precincts of Mo'okini Heiau, Kohala Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

The alter stones were brought by war canoe from Pa’ao’s home heiau of Taputapuatea (lit. sacrifices from abroad), the most powerful and most feared heiau in Polynesia and the center of Ku worship. Boulders for cornerstones brought hundreds of miles across the sea from Taputapuatea were laid with sacrificed humans beneath them. This gave the heiau a formidable power and an air of menace and despair that clings to it to this day.

iPhone and iPod Touch Video Tour Guide for Hawaii-fully GPS and WiFi enabled, fully interactive. Hours of interesting and compelling content. Available from iTunes or at www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Offerings at Mo'okini Heiau, Kohala Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Outside the heiau walls can be found a large phallic rock and a flat stone with a cup-like depression near the top. Here, on this holehole stone, the baked bodies of human sacrifices were stripped of flesh and the bones saved to be rendered into fishhooks and dagger blades. Not much mention of the fate of the human flesh from these sacrifices is made, but it is universally documented that Polynesians everywhere were cannibals. This is a topic that is sometimes difficult for the modern descendants of these people to come to terms with and one which is best, and most polite, to simply accept and not comment or speculate upon.

iPhone and iPod Touch Video Tour Guide for Hawaii-fully GPS and WiFi enabled, fully interactive. Hours of interesting and compelling content. Available from iTunes or at www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Framing for a hale pili (grass house) at Mo'okini Heiau, Kohala Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

There is no counting the tens of thousands of Hawai’ians who were made sacrifice here on this stone at barren, terrible Mo’okini over the centuries, but the sacrificial victims were all gathered by a class of kahuna called the Mu, or “body catcher”; the foundation of the dwelling of the Mu can still be found among the ruins of Mo’okini.

iPhone and iPod Touch Video Tour Guide for Hawaii-fully GPS and WiFi enabled, fully interactive. Hours of interesting and compelling content. Available from iTunes or at www.tourguidehawaii.com.

One of the Great Wals at Mo'okini Heiau, Kohala Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Well preserved, Mo’okini Heiau stands today at the north end of Hawai’i, the first temple of human sacrifice in Hawai’i and the first site in Hawai’i to be preserved as a National Historic Landmark under the Historic Sites Act of 1935. Mo’okini Heiau is now part of Lapakahi State Historic Park. As Mo’okini is an active Heiau, visitors are reminded to stay away if religious observances are being celebrated.

iPhone and iPod Touch Video Tour Guide for Hawaii-fully GPS and WiFi enabled, fully interactive. Hours of interesting and compelling content. Available from iTunes or at www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Kamehameha Akahi Aina Hanau Heiau at Kapakai Kokoiki, Kohala Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Four tenths of a mile past Mo’okini is the unlikely, lonely and windswept site of fulfillment of a long-standing prophesy amongst the ancient Hawai’ians, Kapakai Kokoiki Heiau, now named Kamehameha Akahi Aina Hanau. Long-foretold was the coming of a warrior king who would unite all the islands into a single kingdom and who would rule wisely, piously and long. Prophecy and legend held that this Ali’i would be terrible in his fierceness, unstoppable in his strength, just in his laws and faithful in his observances to the gods. The prophecy continued that the ruler would be born along the wild northern coast of Hawai’i, the most sacred of the Hawai’ian islands. This ruler would, according to the prophecy, wield power of proportion unknown to previous Hawai’ian Ali’i, but for all this destined greatness, he was prophesied to live a lonely life.

iPhone and iPod Touch Video Tour Guide for Hawaii-fully GPS and WiFi enabled, fully interactive. Hours of interesting and compelling content. Available from iTunes or at www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Legendary Birthplace of Kamehameha at Kapakai Kokoiki, Kohala Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Into this mythic context was born Kamehameha the Great, whose very name means “The Lonely One” in about the year 1758. The large boulders inside the enclosure at Kapakai Kokoiki Heiau are thought to be the same birthing stones on which Kamehameha’s mother, Chiefess Keku’iapoiwa, gave birth to the future ruler.

iPhone and iPod Touch Video Tour Guide for Hawaii-fully GPS and WiFi enabled, fully interactive. Hours of interesting and compelling content. Available from iTunes or at www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Hawaii Bureau of Tourism's Idea of a Good Joke, Mo'okini Heiau, Kohala Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Getting There: To reach these impressive sites, turn off Highway 270 onto the Upolu Airport Road near mile 20 (just west of Hawi) and continue 2 miles to the airport. We recommend that you park in the obvious dirt car park by the airport and hike or mountain bike the road 1.6 miles to Mo’okini Heiau, continuing on a further 0.4 miles to Kapakai Kokoiki Heiau. It is possible to drive 4-wheel drive vehicles down this road, but deep ruts, potholes and rocks make it impassable for most passenger vehicles. Also, Kohala is infamous for its ferocious and unpredictable rainstorms which render this road an ordeal in deep oozing mud and slime, unusable to motorized vehicles.

iPhone and iPod Touch Video Tour Guide for Hawaii-fully GPS and WiFi enabled, fully interactive. Hours of interesting and compelling content. Available from iTunes or at www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Not far from Mo'okini Heiau is the Original King Kamehameha Statue in Kapa'a, Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

This dirt road goes all the way (about 4 miles) past Mo’okini Heiau and the Kamehameha Birthplace to the old Coast Guard Loran Lookout; this makes a wonderful beginner’s mountain biking trip or day hike, especially considering the amazing historical sites along the way.

Retracing your path to the airport and back up to Highway 270, treat yourself to a visit in real Old Hawaii at the small towns of Hawi and Kapa’a. In these small towns you can find restrooms, many of the island’s best restaurants, interesting shops, fantastic art galleries and grocery stores.

iPhone and iPod Touch Video Tour Guide for Hawaii-fully GPS and WiFi enabled, fully interactive. Hours of interesting and compelling content. Available from iTunes or at www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Sacred Stones at Mo'okini Heiau, Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

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

Copyright 2009 by Donald B. MacGowan. All rights reserved.