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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, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Punalu'u Black Sand Beach Graphic: 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.

Punalu’u Black Sand Beach Park/Kaneele’ele Heiau/Kaimu 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.

Bradford MacGowan Filming at Punalu'u Black Sand Beach, Ka'u Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

A truly remarkable place of great peace, beauty and spiritual healing, Punalu’u’s black sand-lined coves and beaches are world-renowned.  Dozens of endangered Hawai’ian Green Sea Turtles swim the waters frequently basking on the beach here.  The wildness of the ocean and the serenity of the freshwater fishpond and coconut palm-shaded beaches make this an ideal place to spend some soul-recharge time.  Snorkeling, picnicking and camping, or just relaxing on the beach, are major destination pass-times here.  Near South Point and between the villages of Na’alehu and Pahala, Punalu’u is on Highway 11 between mile markers 55 and 56.

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 back at Punalu'u Beach From the ruins of the Pahala Sugar Company wharf, Ka'u Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Punalu’u means “springs you swim to”; it is the abundance of these fresh water springs just offshore that makes swimming at Punalu’u so cold and this settlement site so important to the ancient Hawai’ians.  In pre-contact times, due to the scarcity of fresh water along the Ka’u coast, Hawaiians would swim out into Kuhua Bay with stoppered gourds, dive down on top the springs, unstopper the gourds and, by upending them underwater, fill them with the fresh spring water emanating from the floor of the bay.  These springs are one of the very few sources of fresh water on this entire end of 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.

Edangered Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle emerges from the ocean at Punaluu Black Sand Beach, Ka'u Hawaii: Photo By Donald B. MacGowan

Dozens of Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles make the waters and beaches around Punalu’u their home; it is one of the few places outside the French Frigate Shoals in the NW Hawaiian Islands where they breed and lay eggs. Called Honu by Hawaii’s natives, they are beautiful, serene and seeming wise. Though they have swum the oceans for over 200 million years, peacefully feeding on algae and invertebrates, this highly successful product of amphibian evolution is in grave danger.

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.

Honu, the Haaiian Green Sea Turtle at Punalu'u Black Sand Beach, Ka'u Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Loss of habitat, hunting and molestation by humans has conspired to push them to the very verge of extinction. Protected now by state and federal law, the population of once millions of honu has been decimated to just a few hundred thousand.  Although they are making a comeback, Hawaii’s honu are still very much endangered.

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.

Visitors are charmed by a Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle, Honu, at Punalu'u Black Sand Beach: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Do not approach basking turtles closely, never touch or pick them up; stay at least 30 feet from them if they are basking on shore. Harassing turtles carries a stiff fine and in any case, touching the turtle is a good way to get a raging salmonella infection. If honu are swimming near where you are, do not approach or chase them; always swim to the side of them, never above (as a predatory shark would) nor below them (so they won’t feel that their soft belly is at risk).

aniNew 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.

Turtle tracks in the black sand beach at Punalu'u, Ka'u Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

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

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.

Reflection in the brackish ponds behind Punalu'u Black Sand Beach, Ka'u Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

The large brackish pond behind the beach, once a very productive fish-growing pond, is also fed by a large spring called Kawaihu O Kauila (literally, “the overflowing waters of the Turtle Goddess, Kauila).  This spring is also where the mythical figure Laka slew the fierce, man-eating mo’o (sea serpent) Kaikapu (“forbidden water”).  There are some very, very mixed breed ducks that make this pond their home.

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.

Kane'ele'ele Heiau and Ninole Cinder Cone above Punalu'u Black Sand Beach, Ka'u Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

On the hill just south of the beach behind the pier is Kaneele’ele Heiau, which also is called Mailekini Heiau.  This temple very worth visiting but is often overlooked and not noticed by causal visitors simply because of its extreme size.  The heiau, standing on the hill overlooking the ruins of the pier and warehouse, is comprised of a stone platform no less than seven hundred feet long and five hundred feet wide.

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.

Kane'ele'ele Heiau looking west toward Punalu'u Black Sand Beach, Ka'u Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

The name, meaning “darkness of the father god”, coupled with the heiau’s massive size, lends credence to the local legend that this was once the luakini heiau, or place of human sacrifice, of some importance for this district. A large sacrificial stone (now removed) outside the entrance, and bone pits discovered on the temple grounds during construction of the pier and warehouse, point to this as well.  Kaneele’ele is thought to represent two heiaus constructed end-to-end; Punalu’u Nui in the north and Halelau in the south.

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.

Section of Hawaiian paved trail between heiaus at Punalu'u Black Sand Beach: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

West of the parking lot, above Ninole Cove, stand tumbled walls, all that remains of Ka’ie’ie Heiau.  Bordering the a’a lava flow, this temple once presided over a large fishpond that was destroyed by the a’a flow.

Other ruins in the park include the historic ruins of the Pahala Sugar Company Wharf and Warehouse, alongside Kuhua Bay.   After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor at the outset of World War Two, the Army destroyed the wall and pier facilities so the Japanese couldn’t use them to land on Hawai’i’s unprotected southern side.

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.

Punaluu Sun Bathers in dulge themselves on the gorgeous black sand at Punalu'u Beach, Ka'u Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

The beaches and land immediately adjacent to Punalu’u Harbor, Ninole Cove and Kuhua Bay are all part of the County Beach Park.  Snorkeling at Punalu’u is cold due to the number of off-shore springs and a bit weird (the black sand bottom makes the water dark even on the brightest days), but very rewarding, considering the density of sea turtles in the bay.   Strong off-shore winds, ocean currents and a fearsome rip mean swimmers and snorkelers should use caution and stay near shore when swimming at Punalu’u, but it’s hard to resist getting in with all those turtles.

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.

Punalu'u Camping--although exposed to the elements, you cannot beat the view, Ka'u Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Camping is permitted around the pavilions and is by permit only. Pitching camp here can be a windy, but wild and elemental, exercise in campcraft. Due to the exposed nature of the terrain, however, there is little privacy.

Available services include water, picnic tables, restrooms, electrical outlets, and pavilions, parking; camping by permit only.  During peak tourist time, there is a souvenir stand with some packaged food items and canned drinks for sale.

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 black sand is not only geologically delicate, it's in finite supply--please don't take it home with you; Punalu'u Black Sand Beach, Ka'u 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.

Punaluu Black Sand Beach, Ka'u 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.

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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.

Punaluu Black Sand Beach, Ka'u Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. 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.

Aerial Photo of Pu'ukohola, Pu'u Maile and Pelekane Bay, Kohala Hawaii: 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.

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.

Pelakane Beach near Hale O Kapuni, Pu'ukohola National Historic Park, Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic 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.

Pu'ukohola in the sunset, Kohala Coast Hawaii: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

The fulfillment of an ancient prophecy, the devotion of a powerful young King and the first steps toward a new kingdom; the temple at Pu’ukohola stands a mute testament to the facts of Hawaiian history that read like the most dramatic of legends. Forever brooding seaward, Pu’ukohola is an enormous temple inspired by a god-sent vision of greatness. Kamehameha built Pu’ukohola on top of its eponymous hill at Mailekini, in fulfillment of the prophecy by Kaua’i kahuna Kapoukahi. The prophecy foretold if Kamehameha built a great temple to his war god Ku, he would prevail in his wars of conquest and unite the Hawai’ian Islands. In or around the year 1791, perhaps as many as 20,000 people passing stones hand-to-hand 14 miles from Pololu Valley raised this massive Heiau.

When it was finished, Kamehameha invited his cousin and chief rival for the throne of Hawai’i, the Ali’i of Ka’u, Keoua, to the dedication. Some versions of the story tell that when Keoua arrived with a contingent of his Ka’u warriors, a scuffle broke out and he was killed by a spear thrown by the warrior Ke’eaumoku. Kamehameha had the rest of the Ali’i in Keoua’s party seized and they were made the first sacrifice at the new temple.

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.

Mauna Kea from Pu'ukohola National Historic Park, Kohala Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Another version of the story tells that Ke’eaumoku took hold of Keoua and ducked him into the sea; as a result, Keoua drowned. This account contends that Keoua was not killed by a spear because Kamehameha believed there should be no blemish on the body of Keoua for the consecration of the temple to Ku.

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.

Brooding Seaward, Pu'ukohola looms over Kawaihae Harbor, Kohala Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Yet another version of the story holds that Keoua was in fact shot and killed by the Brits John Young and Isaac Davis, from somewhere below Mailekini Heiau. This story contends that this is how Pelekane Beach, which means “British Beach”, got its name. All accounts agree that because of the ease with which the Ali’i had been captured and sacrificed, all the rest of Keoua’s party were spared.

After long years of fierce battle and earnest negotiation, in 1810 after having united the islands by force or agreement, and having fulfilled the prophecy, Kamehameha became the first ruler of the united Hawai’ian Islands.

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.

Looking Down Onto Pelakane Beach From Near Mailekini Heiau, Pu'ukohola National Historic Park, Kohala, Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Pu’ukohola is the largest stone structure in Hawaii, not counting the modern rock wall in front of the Kailua Lowe’s Hardware store.

Below Pu’ukohola and Mailekini lies Pelekane Beach at the mouth of Pelekane Gulch. Submerged just offshore between here and the Kawaihae Harbor jetty, are the largely unexplored, ruined remains of Hale O Kapuni Heiau, a temple dedicated to the shark god Mano. Here worship rites included human flesh being fed to sharks. One reason this temple is not better known is that the bay is still home to several large tiger sharks.

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.

Overlooking the Site of the Submerged Hale O Kapuni Heiau from Near Mailekini Heiau to the Kawaihae Jetty, Pu'ukohola National Historic Park, Kohala Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

A full range of facilities exist at Pu’ukohola and the adjacent Samuel Spencer Beach Park. More about Spencer Beach Park can be found here.

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.

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.

Sunrise on Pu'ukohola Heiau, Kohala Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

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.

Pu'ukohola Faded Sunset: Graphic from Photo by Donald B MacGowan

Helani Church and ‘Ohi’a-Mukumuku Heiau

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Produced by Donnie MacGowan.

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

Ancient ruins? Human sacrifice?

If you are the kind of person who enjoys the excitement of archeology, then this next spot on your tour around the island maybe just what you are looking for. Centuries ago the inhabitants of this region built a series of sacred temples, or heiaus, which were originally used for the purpose of sacrificing human beings to their war god, Kuka’ilimoku. This particular archeological site is called Ahu’ena Heiau, which in Hawaiian means “Hill of Fire”.

Take a moment to stop here for a look, who knows what you may find. Who knows what spirits you my encounter. In any event, as you take the time to examine the reconstructed grounds of this particular heiau, keep in mind that to this very day these are places of sanctity and solace for many of the native Hawai’ians. As with all such places, remember to respect this setting as well by not removing anything whatsoever from the site. Meanwhile, as you ponder in your minds just what it is you’re looking at, consider a little history…

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

Ancient ruins? Human sacrifice?

If you are the kind of person who enjoys the excitement of archeology, then this next spot on your tour around the island maybe just what you are looking for. Centuries ago the inhabitants of this region built a series of sacred temples, or heiaus, which were originally used for the purpose of sacrificing human beings to their war god, Kuka’ilimoku. This particular archeological site is called Ahu’ena Heiau, which in Hawaiian means “Hill of Fire”.

Take a moment to stop here for a look, who knows what you may find. Who knows what spirits you my encounter. In any event, as you take the time to examine the reconstructed grounds of this particular heiau, keep in mind that to this very day these are places of sanctity and solace for many of the native Hawai’ians. As with all such places, remember to respect this setting as well by not removing anything whatsoever from the site. Meanwhile, as you ponder in your minds just what it is you’re looking at, consider a little history…

For more information, visit: www.tourguidehawaii.com.