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Frank’s Big Island Travel Hints #1: Kona south to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

by Frank Burgess, brought to you by Tour Guide Hawaii

Frank Burgess Along the Kilauea Iki Trail: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Frank Burgess Along the Kilauea Iki Trail: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Tour Guide Hawaii is proud to announce the release of their new iPhone and iPod Touch App available at iTunes…this App will help you plan your trip to Hawaii, help you decide what you want to see, how you want to see it and help you get there with GPS, interactive maps and on-board driving instructions.  The Tour Guide App presents hours of interesting videos and information about places of historical, cultural and recreational interest, giving you a sense of the people, the natural history and the unique specialness of each destination.  The information is so comprehensive and complete they even tell you where all the public restrooms are!  What else will Tour Guide help you find?  Let’s look at a trip south from Kona along the Hawaii Belt Road to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park…Tour Guide will not only help you find many amazing sights along the way, it will tell you all about them, what to take and what to expect.

Aloha is a Hawaiian word for hello, goodbye and a word they use for love. In the literal translation, “alo” is life and “ha” is breath. So when you say “Aloha”, and someone returns the greeting, you are sharing the breath of life.

The Big Island of Hawaii is the largest land mass in the state. I fact, all the other Hawaiian islands will fit inside the Big Island and only take up about half of it.

Therefore realize it takes 6-7 hours to drive around this island, if you don’t stop anywhere. I always suggest if you are going to drive and see the sights yourself, split the driving into 3 days and pick up your GPS Tour Guide (808-557-0051).  The following series of blog entries details these three day trips.

The first drive day, go to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. From Kona it will take 3 hours of non-stop drive time to reach the entrance. Tour Guide has over 50 sights to see inside the park with tons of great info and photos. The park entrance fee is $10.00 per carload and is good for 7 days, so you can go back and see sights you may have missed the first time if you wish. Bring a cooler with sandwiches and lots of water as there are few places inside the park to buy food. If you prefer a hot lunch, the Volcano House is reasonably priced ($15.00 buffet) and has a spectacular view. The Volcano House is also steeped in history and is not to be missed.

I wear shorts, tee shirt and comfortable walking shoes. BUT, also bring my sweat pants and sweatshirt. At 4200 ft. elevation, temperatures can vary from 80 to 45 degrees and weather conditions can change from sunny to rainy in a matter of minutes, so BE PREPARED. My advice is leave early (7:AM) and expect to get back about dark (6-7 PM). Tour Guide will get you there and back safely and has all the info about hiking, biking, museums and much more.

There are a number of great sights between Kona and the volcano that could be a whole day of sight seeing, all found in your Tour Guide.

When leaving Kona going south, you will enter the coffee country. There are several farms that offer free coffee sampling and tours. Just look for the signs along the highway. Kona Joe’s (visit here and see video) is one of my favorites. They grow their coffee on trellises like fine wine in Napa or Sonoma. Kona Joe’s offers tours, has a coffee bar and gift shop, is immaculately maintained and has breathtaking views of the Kona Coast. For tour times, see their ad in Tour Guide.

Continuing south, brings you to the turn off for Kealakekua Bay (Napo’opo’o Road). At the bottom of this beautiful winding road, turn right to see the Capt. Cook Monument. Tour Guide will give great info about this historic area.

Stay along the coast headed south, on the single lane road for 4 miles, and you will arrive at Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historic Park, also known as the “Place of Refuge”. Tour Guide help will make this magical spot come alive; for even more information, visit here.

To see the new iPhone/iPod Touch App, please visit  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 and

Copyright 2009
by Frank Burgess; photography copyright 2009 by Donald B. MacGowan. All rights reserved.