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Frank’s Big Island Travel Hints #12: More fun in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Big Island, Hawaii
by Frank Burgess, brought to you by Tour Guide Hawaii

Frank Burgess at Hilina Pali Overlook: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Frank Burgess at Hilina Pali Overlook: Photo by Donnie 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 down Chain of Craters Road in 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.

Today’s hints cover the area along the very top of Chain of Craters Road in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Driving through The Park  there several fantastic places to stop and explore, but there is also a lot of lovely, open countryside for several miles, so enjoy the panoramic views. Your Tour Guide download from iTunes will give you more detailed information about this area.

Deeper and Deeper into Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Reprinted from here.  Brought to you by Tour Guide and our new, comprehensive GPS/Internet/3G navigation App for iPhones and iPod Touch available today at iTunes!

View of Hualalai Volcano, Hawai`i, looking SE.  Photograph by J. Kauahikaua on December 30, 1996.
View of Hualalai Volcano, Hawai`i, looking SE.
Photograph by J. Kauahikaua on December 30, 1996.

The West Hawai`i Today issue for September 11, 2009, contained a letter to the editor titled “Hualalai is a real and present threat.” The writer’s main point was that “Hualalai is the ‘secret in the closet’ that nobody wants to talk about,” that Hualalai is under-monitored, and that, should Hualalai erupt, there is no evacuation plan.

The letter writer’s concerns about Hualalai were valid, but he was not aware of HVO’s current efforts and plans to improve the monitoring of Hualalai. We hope to shed some light on recent and future activities planned for Hualalai.

Hualalai is the third most active volcano on Hawai`i Island behind Kīlauea and Mauna Loa, according to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory’s (HVO) Web site (http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/), and attained national ranking of “High Threat” for active volcanoes in the U.S. (see http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2005/1164/).

In the ranking, there were 37 volcanoes nation-wide that were highest-priority targets for improved monitoring; Kīlauea and Mauna Loa were included in this group. Furthermore, 21 additional volcanoes were found to be under-monitored and were regarded high priority for improved monitoring; Hualalai is in this group.

What is the basis for this ranking? Hualalai has erupted three times in the last 1,000 years, the most recent eruption occurring in 1801. An intense and damaging seismic swarm in 1929 marked a failed eruption. In the same interval, Mauna Loa and Kīlauea have each erupted more than 150 times, and Haleakala has erupted at least 10 times. Hualalai was rated a higher threat than Haleakala, due to the extent of development (airport, power station, etc.) and the larger population living on the volcano’s flanks.

Is Hualalai under-monitored? In 2005, HVO and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) each had one seismometer on the volcano, and bi-annual deformation surveys were conducted by our staff. With the permission of Kamehameha Schools, a continuous GPS receiver was installed near the summit in late 2006. In 2009, HVO still has one seismometer and uses two instruments operated by PTWC for eruption monitoring, and we continue the bi-annual surveys. Plans for the next two years include upgrading our seismic site and adding a new one.

We routinely scrutinize all available satellite imagery daily, including visual and thermal images to indicate any significant visual and temperature changes, or increased gas emissions. Moreover, radar scans several times each year can pinpoint any ground deformation that may be a precursor to volcanic activity. The radar scans are so sensitive that several small areas of subsidence were detected after the October 15, 2006, Kiholo earthquakes.

The conclusion from evaluating all of these data is that there have been no signs of swelling, major subsidence, temperature changes, gas emissions, or unusual seismic activity on Hualalai that would indicate volcanic activity in the near future. Nevertheless, we continue to look for any changes.

If the rankings were done today, Hualalai would be nearly fully monitored.

We agree with the letter writer that “the more people know about Hualalai, the more will be prepared.” In 2004, University of Hawai`i at Manoa (UHM) scientists published two studies on Kona community’s perception of volcanic risk and preparedness for lava flows from Hualalai and Mauna Loa. They concluded that “current community understanding and preparedness… falls short of that required for a volcanic crisis, particularly for those eruptions with short onset and high effusion rates on steep slopes that would impact Kona in just a few hours…”

There are several reasons for the lack of understanding, but foremost may be the constant influx of new residents who haven’t educated themselves about volcanic hazards. The primary mission of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory is to monitor the active volcanoes in the State of Hawai`i. Through our Web site, public forums, and newspaper articles, we strive to disseminate information on the volcanoes and their hazards.

The people of Kona should know that we are keeping an eye on Hualalai and that if there are any changes (in its eruption status), we will let the public know!

Kīlauea Activity Update

Lava continues to erupt from the TEB vent, on Kīlauea’s east rift zone and flow through tubes to the ocean at Waikupanaha. A deflation-inflation cycle this past week resulted in a reduction of lava supply for several days, followed by a resumption of flow on Wednesday, Sept. 30. Breakouts from the tube system started at that time, and these surface flows remain active at the top of Royal Gardens subdivision. The flows are mostly staying close to the breakout point along the east margin of the flow field.

Faint glow above the vent at Kīlauea’s summit has been visible at night. A portion of the Halema`uma`u vent cavity collapsed on Saturday, Sept. 26, followed by the appearance of an active lava pond deep within the vent cavity on the night of Tuesday, Sept. 29. Volcanic gas emissions remain elevated, resulting in high concentrations of sulfur dioxide downwind.

Four earthquakes beneath Hawai`i Island were reported felt this past week. A magnitude-2.3 earthquake occurred at 12:30 p.m., H.s.t., on Friday, September 25, 2009, beneath Kilauea’s summit at a depth of 6 km (4 miles). Two earthquakes occurred on Sunday, September 27-a magnitude-2.1 earthquake at 9:52 a.m., H.s.t., located 7 km (4.3 miles) N of Kailua at a depth of 8 km (5 miles) and a magnitude-2.3 earthquake at 10:22 p.m., H.s.t., located 7 km (4.3 miles) ENE of Honaunau at a depth of 6 km (3.7 miles). A 1.6-magnitude earthquake at 7:11 p.m. H.s.t., on Wednesday, September 30, was located 15 km (10 miles) NW of Mauna Kea’s summit at a depth of 25 km (16 miles).

Visit our Web site (http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov) for detailed Kīlauea and Mauna Loa activity updates, recent volcano photos, recent earthquakes, and more; call (808) 967-8862 for a Kīlauea activity summary; email questions to askHVO@usgs.gov.

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Planning on visiting the Big Island Volcanoes, hiking the beautiful summits or going to see the flowing lava?  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.  In addition to concentrating on Hawaii’s volcanoes, beaches and waterfalls, the Tour Guide App presents hours of interesting videos and information about many other 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!

We highly recommend all Big Island visitor’s who have iPhones or an iPod Touch check out our App on iTunes; we think you’ll agree it’s far better than old-fashioned, cumbersome maps or expensive guide books that seem to be out of date before they are printed.  See it today!

Frank’s Big Island Travel Hints #10: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
by Frank Burgess, brought to you by Tour Guide Hawaii

Frank Burgess Filming at the End of Chain of Craters Road, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Frank Burgess Filming at the End of Chain of Craters Road, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: 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.

Today’s hints cover the area from Kona to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and the first few sites of interest within the Park. Driving along the Kona Coast and then south east through Ka’u, through tropical rainforest, across mysterious savanna and recent lava flows,  there several fantastic places to stop and explore, but there is also a lot of lovely, open countryside for several miles, so enjoy the panoramic views. Your Tour Guide download from iTunes will give you more detailed information about this area.

Let’s Go to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park!

About a two hour straight drive from Kona, going south, brings you to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. If you have a Golden Eagle Pass your entrance is free. If not, it is only $10.00 per carload to enter the park. The rangers at the gate will give you detailed maps of the area.

Super tip: Your receipt will give you free access to the National Park for seven days.

My first suggestion is to go to the Kilauea Visitors Center and the Jagger Museum. This will give you a nice overview of the park and rangers are there to answer questions. This spot also looks over the majestic Halemaumau CraterTour Guide will get you to the park and lead you to more than 50 sites. It is also possible that our state bird, the Nene Goose, will be huddled in the parking lots. They are protected as an endangered species, so be careful when parking nearby.

Another great place to visit is the Volcano Art Center. It may seem a strange, but the Volcano Art Center boasts one of the best collections of art in the whole state. World renowned artist in various media are on display as well as theatrical and musical performances.

There is only one restaurant in the park proper, and that is the Volcano House. Built as a lodge in the mid 1800’s, the Volcano House has hosted dignitaries, politicians, sports heroes and movie stars from all over the world. This grand edifice sits right on the lip of Halemaumau Crater and the views from her restaurant are stunning. Tour Guide will give a complete history of how it came to be. The food is good and the prices are reasonable. Bicycle rentals are also available near the lodge.

Crater Rim Drive is a great driving introduction to the park. It encircles the Halemaumau Crater and, for only an 11 mile drive, passes through several dramatic climate zones. You will encounter arid desert, grass savannah, and into tropical rainforest; this loop can easily be done in forty minutes. However, you will want to take more time to appreciate the beauty and majesty of one nature’s most awesome wonders. Tour Guide will suggest short to medium hikes and bicycle trails as well as over 50 historic and geologic sites to visit within the park.

If you are up for some hiking, Tour Guide will lead you to the trail for Waldron Ledge Overlook. This short hike is through the Ohia and fern jungles, shaded most of the way, and can be done on bicycle as well. From this vantage point one can see the active vent, Kilauea Iki, and breathtaking views of the coast.

Along the Crater Rim Drive you will also see many steam vents and the Sulfur Banks. This is where water seeps into crevices and meets the molten magma about a half mile below the surface, is super heated, and returns to the surface as steam. These vents are often accompanied by a “rotten egg” smell common where sulfur is rising with the steam, turning the ground around the vents hues of yellow, green and white.

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

Frank’s Big Island Travel Hints #4: Waikoloa to Pololu Valley
by Frank Burgess, brought to you by Tour Guide Hawaii

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 north from Waikoloa along the Hawaii Belt Road to incomparable Pololu Valley…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.

Today’s hints cover the area from  the Waikoloa Beach Resorts to Pololu Valley along the gorgeous Hamakua Coast.  Driving north on the highway there several fantastic places to stop and explore, but there is also a lot of lovely, open countryside for several miles, so enjoy the panoramic views. Your Tour Guide download from iTunes will give you more detailed information about this area.

Driving north past the Waikoloa Beach resorts, the next turn off will take you to the Mauna Lani Resorts. This area has 5 Star to 5 Diamond resorts. It also has some great petroglyph fields near the Orchid at Mauna Lani Resort and some relaxing beaches which are open to the public. Tour Guide gives you turn-be-turn directions to find these wonders easily. The Shops at Mauna Lani offers high end shopping and fine dining.

Another 10 minutes north, on Hwy 19, brings us to a three-way intersection where you’ll make a left turn (north) onto hwy 270 and drive along the Kohala Coast. This northern tip of the island is less populated and less traveled. The first left turn takes you to Pu’ukohola Heiau and Spencer Beach Park.

Pu’ukohola National Historic Park is a large reconstructed heiau (a Hawaiian temple site) with a visitor center and self-guided tour. Your Tour Guide will have all the history and stories about this legendary spot.

Spencer Beach Park is a favorite family beach with lots of facilities. Camping is available, by permit only, and the “no wave” sandy beach is great for young children. It is also a fabulous snorkel spot if you have your own equipment. Tour Guide will tell you about where to get camping permits, snorkel rentals and all the facilities that are available here.

As we continue driving north on Hwy 270, there are several smaller parks along the way. Tour Guide will tell you about all of them and their facilities. For history buffs, Lapahkahi State Park is a must stop. This re-creation of an ancient Hawaiian village is fascinating and free. Here you can see how a typical village was laid out and the huts that were used for housing. Whale watching from shore, during the winter months, is also very popular.


Super Tip: When driving in less populated areas, where there are less stores and restaurants, you will save money and frustration by bringing your own food and water. In these locations, even when you do find a store or diner, the items may cost much more. In addition, hours at gas stations vary by day of the week and time of year. It is wise to never let your gas tank get under half-full here. It is also wise to avail yourself of Public restrooms where you find them. Many of the restrooms in the smaller parks have been closed since the earthquake of 2006 and there are none available past the King Kamehameha Statue in the little town of Kapa’au.

Driving just a few minutes farther north, you’ll come to the town of Hawi (pronounced Haw VEE). A cute town with art galleries, souvenir stores, snacks shops and restaurants
(but not much more), Hawi is old Hawaii personified. Just a few minutes northbound brings you to the famous King Kamehameha statue in the small town of Kapa’au (kah pah OW). This is the birthplace of the storied first king to unite all the Hawaiian Islands under one rule. Tour Guide will present tons of info about the shops and restaurants in Hawi and Kapa’au, as well as about King Kamehameha himself.

Drive about 10 more minutes, to the end of the road, to view the Pololu Valley, one of Hawaii’s great scenic wonders. From the parking lot at the end of the road you can get some gorgeous photos. If you’re up for some hiking, the trail down to the valley floor is about a 20 minute hike. Bring plenty of water because the hike back up is a hot 45 minutes. Tour Guide will give you more info about what to bring, what to wear and what to expect in the valley itself.

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

Frank’s Big Island Travel Hints #3: Kona North to Waikoloa and the Kohala Coast

by Frank Burgess, brought to you by Tour Guide Hawaii

Frank Burgess uses the Tour Guide App to explore shopping possibilities around Kailua Kona.jpg

Frank Burgess uses the Tour Guide App to explore shopping possibilities around Kailua Kona.jpg

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 north from Kona along the Hawaii Belt Road to the Waikoloa area…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.

Today’s hints cover the area from Kailua Kona north through Kaloko-Honokohau National Park to the Waikoloa Beach Resorts.  Driving north on Hwy 11 there isn’t too much to stop and see for several miles, so enjoy the panoramic views. Your Tour Guide download from iTunes will give you more detailed information about this area.

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

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

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

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

Super tip: Hawaii is much closer to the equator than you may be used to. Even when it’s cloudy, the sun will burn the skin quickly. Your friendly staff at Tour Guide recommends you use sunscreen liberally and re-apply often, especially after swimming, snorkeling or hiking.  Drink more water than you think is necessary–avoid diuretics such as sodas, coffee and alcohol.

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

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

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

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

Frank’s Big Island Travel Hints #2: Kona Coast South of Honaunau to Ka’u

By Frank Burgess and brought to you by Tour Guide Hawaii

Frank Burgess stops to take a photo while hiking the Ka'u Desert Trail: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Frank Burgess stops to take a photo while hiking the Ka'u Desert 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 towards 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.

Today’s hints cover the area from Pu’u Honua O Honaunau south to Punalu’u Black Sand Beach.  Driving south on Hwy 11 there isn’t too much to stop and see for several miles, so enjoy the panoramic views. Your Tour Guide download from iTunes will give you more detailed information about this area.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hawaii’s Magnificent Honu, The Endangered Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle
by Donnie MacGowan

This perfectly camouflaged turtle basks quietly in a tidepool between Ke'eku Heiau and Hapaiali'i Heiau: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

This perfectly camouflaged turtle basks quietly in a tidepool between Ke'eku Heiau and Hapaiali'i Heiau: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Called Honu by Hawaii’s natives, the endangered Hawaiian Green Sea turtle is beautiful, serene and seeming wise. Though they have swum the oceans for over 200 million years peacefully feeding on algae and invertebrates and living the turtle dream, this highly successful product of amphibian evolution is in grave danger. Loss of habitat, hunting and molestation by humans has conspired to push the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle to the very verge of extinction. One of the great joys of visiting Hawaii is to see, and in many cases swim with, these gentle, fascinating, beautiful amphibians.  But where?

Although the population is recovering, honu are still relatively scarce on most beaches in Hawaii–how is the casual visitor to know where to go, how to see them, how to treat them, how to swim with them?

A Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle Dozes Gently on the Beach at Kiholo on the Kohala Coast: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

A Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle Dozes Gently on the Beach at Kiholo on the Kohala Coast: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Clearly, the visitor to Hawaii can use some help finding special places in general and beaches where the honu hang out in particular.  To help you find the more secluded, wild and exotic destinations and very special attractions such as beaches where honu live in particular, and to help you get more out of your Hawaii vacation, Tour Guide Hawaii has released a brand new iPhone/iPod Touch App.  This “must have” travel app is packed with hours of informative video on the most interesting places on Hawaii; helps navigate you to all the most popular visitor destinations, the most interesting attractions, the most romantic and secluded beaches; helps you effortlessly find hikes, snorkel spots, historical and cultural landmarks, shopping and dining. And of course, our new App includes directions to, and rating of, all the public restrooms! Learn all about the App, here.

More about Hawaii’s Honu

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A young snorkeler at Kahalu'u is unsure what to make of his first encounter with a honu: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Protected now by state and federal law, the population of once millions of individuals has been decimated to just a few hundred thousand; although they are making a comeback, Hawaii’s honu are still very much endangered.

Honu may grow up to 45 inches and weigh as much as 400 pounds at maturity, reached at 25 years of age. Hawaiian Green sea turtles can easily be differentiated from the other near shore sea turtle in Hawaii, the much less common Hawksbill turtle, by counting the scales between the eyes. Hawksbills have four scales between the eyes and Hawaiian Green Sea turtles have two.

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Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles have 2 scales between their eyes; Hawksbill Sea Turtles have four: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Lady honu crawl on shore to lay their eggs, generally after migration to the quieter shores of the French Frigate Shoals, 800 miles northwest of Hawaii, or the black sand beaches on the south end of the Big Island of Hawaii. Adult turtles feed primarily on limu–sea weed–near shore and jellyfish and other invertebrates when out at sea.  Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles have been known to make swimming voyages of a few thousand miles in a single year.

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A Turtle Eating Seaweed at Kahalu'u Bay: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Danger to the turtles comes from a myriad of directions; toxic waste, floating balloons and plastic bags, Styrofoam, plastic six-pack rings, abandoned fish nets and line, not to mention getting caught in active fishing operations. As if this weren’t bad enough, new and debilitating diseases are afflicting the Hawaiian green sea turtle. Near public beaches, resorts and other areas heavily impacted by human activity as many as 90% of the turtles are dying slow, painful deaths from tumors, infections and other diseases as well as parasites which attack the diseased flesh.

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Turtle watchers at Punalu'u Black Sand Beach know they must stand at least 10 feet away from honu and not impede their progress: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

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Hawaiians of old revered and respected the honu and left petrglyoph carvings of them liberally scattered across the archipelago: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Humans have caused this misery and the decline in these magnificent creatures lives…visitors who wish to see the turtles must take care not to further stress them. Do not approach basking turtles closely, never touch or pick them up. While swimming or on the beach, give the turtles at least 10 feet of space…approach no closer; never block the path of turtle crawling out onto the beach or a turtle surfacing in the water.

Honu were honored and revered by Hawaiians of old and today, harassing turtles carries a stiff fine.  In any case, touching the turtle is a good way to get a raging salmonella infection. If honu are swimming near where you are, do not approach or chase them; always swim to the side of them, never above (as a predatory shark would) nor below them (so they won’t feel that their soft belly is at risk).

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

A Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle Suns Herself on Punalu'u's Justly Famous Black Sand Beach: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

A Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle Suns Herself on Punalu'u's Justly Famous Black Sand Beach: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

It is within our grasp, this generation, to save or destroy forever these ancient animals; treat them gently and with respect. A video about Hawaii’s honu can be found here.

Honu at Sunset, Haapaiali'i Heiau: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Honu at Sunset, Hapaiali'i Heiau: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Don’t forget to check out our exciting new iPhone/iPod Touch App at iTunes, here.  More information is available by visiting www.tourguidehawaii.com or tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com. For information about the author, please go here.

All media copyright 2009 by Donald B. MacGowan

Many people, flying along the highway from Kona to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, dash through South Hawaii as quickly as possible to reach the park without realizing they are missing some of the best, and least visited, places in the whole state. This southern end of the island is where the Polynesians first landed and began their colonization of the Hawaiian Islands; it is home to the beaches where most of the endangered green sea turtles breed and lay their eggs in the main Hawaiian chain, and it is home to some of the most amazing history and awesome history anywhere in the world.

Ghostly Steam and Glow of Lava at Waikupanaha: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Ghostly Steam and Glow of Lava at Waikupanaha: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Clearly, the visitor to Hawaii can use some help finding the more secluded, wild and exotic destinations and attractions. To help you get more out of your Hawaii vacation, Tour Guide Hawaii has released a brand new iPhone/iPod Touch App which navigates you to all the most popular visitor destinations, the most interesting attractions, the most romantic and secluded beaches; helps you effortlessly find hikes, snorkel spots, historical and cultural landmarks, shopping and dining. And of course, our new App includes directions to, and rating of, all the public restrooms! Learn all about it, here.

Bradford MacGowan Filming at Punalu'u Beach: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Bradford MacGowan Filming at Punalu'u Beach: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

In addition to real GPS navigation, this app also allows you to navigate using Google Maps or, if no internet or phone service available, with on-board maps and driving directions! Our App is crammed full of entertaining and informative video presentations about how and where to snorkel, the best trails and beaches, what to pack to bring to Hawaii, cultural orientation and language tips!

Before you rush off to buy our new App on iTunes…let’s take a few minutes and explore some of the fabulous and fantastic things to see and do along the Hawaii Belt Road through South Hawaii that you might not miss if you weren’t using our fabulous App. Of course, our App has much more detail in its video content than we can present here, but this will serve as an indication of what you might otherwise miss.

Huge Portions of Hawaii Island Have Simply Broken Off and Slid Into The Sea in Giant Landslides; Here is the Escarpment from Onesuch Landslide on Kealakekua Bay: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Huge Portions of Hawaii Island Have Simply Broken Off and Slid Into The Sea in Giant Landslides; Here is the Escarpment from One-such Landslide on Kealakekua Bay: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Mauna Loa South Flank Land Slides: The flanks of the Hawai’ian volcanoes are unusually unstable because of their extreme youth, rapid growth and because the flows are very thin, discontinuous and are comprised of loosely stacked a’a lava, air-fall material, pahoehoe lava with the loose rubble that forms when the lava flows into the sea. Because of this instability, many extremely large landslides in the past have broken loose, and this is the reason for the steep topography on the lower southern flanks of Mauna Loa. The angle of repose of Hawaiian lava flows (how steeply the land must tilt to get the lava to flow) is roughly 6 degrees, and looking at the gentle slopes of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, one sees that they come very close to this angle. Therefore, topography on the island that is steeper than about 6 degrees represents either faulting, erosion due to water movement or to landslides. One such twenty-mile long landslide, from about Mile 109 on Highway 11 to just north of Miloli’i, slid away about 120,000 years ago. One can see the scar from where the landslide broke loose along Kealakekua Bay and the precipitous cliffs that enfold the Captain Cook Monument as well as the steep hills of South Kona and northwest Ka’u. This landslide generated a tsunami wave of sufficient height to completely wash over the 1427-foot tall summit of Kaho’olawe and wash high up on the mountains of Lana’i. Coral rubble deposited by this tsunami can be found to this day on top of Kaho’olawe and at altitudes in excess of 1000 feet on Lana’i.

Secluded, Romantic, Beautiful Honomalino Beach: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Secluded, Romantic, Beautiful Honomalino Beach: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Honomalino Bay: As the highway creeps along the edge of the land slide escarpments on Mauna Loa, every so often an opportunity to turn downhill and explore what’s “over the edge” presents itself…one such spot is just south of the 89 mile marker…the turnoff to Miloli’i fishing village and Honomalino Beach. The village and villagers of Miloli’i itself are a very insular Hawaiian community, wary of outsiders, and best treated with aloha and respect, from a distance. However, one of the true gems of West Hawai’i is Honomalino Beach. Rarely crowded, this lovely beach is is reached by a 20 minute hike from the south end of Miloli’i Beach County Park.

Drive slowly through their ocean-front village past the wreckage of the sea water desalinization plant, past the house inhabited by Elvis Presley in the movie “Girls, Girls, Girls” to the Miloli’i County Park. Park in the lot by the covered pavilion. The hike starts between the bathrooms and a yellow church and is always along the right fork of the trail, in and out of the surf line, to avoid private property. An interesting hike in and of itself, wandering along the beaches, through the dryland forest and over aa lava flows, it wanders about a mile and a quarter to the palm-lined beach. Snorkeling is very interesting on the north side of the beach, along the rocks, when the surf is low.  The water, though crystalline and clear, can sometimes be a bit chilly in spots doe to freshwater spring discharge through the sand.

The Old Mamalahoa Highway Rolls Through The Rural South Coast of Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

The Old Mamalahoa Highway Rolls Through The Rural South Coast of Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Old Mamalahoa Highway: A scenic stretch of the old Mamalahoa Highway between mileposts 88 and 86 offers a glimpse into what life in Old Hawai’i was like. This rough old road remnant rolls through macadamia orchard and wild countryside and is worth the detour. Driving this stretch of road, remember that to Island residents, the Hawai’i Belt Highway is relatively new; many people living in Hilo will tell you they haven’t been to Kona in 20 years or more because the road is just too hard to drive, you know they are remembering the old highway like this, as it used to be, not as it exists today.

Lehua Blossom and Bee in an Upland Ohia Forest: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Lehua Blossom and Bee in an Upland Ohia Forest: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Manuka State Park: An easy 1-2 hour stroll, a great place for a picnic or a break from driving The Belt Highway, Manuka State Natural Area Reserve and Manuka State Wayside Park lie between the 82 and 81 mile markers and offers the unique setting of both lush wet, and dry-land, forest. The arboretum around the parking lot was planted of native and trees first introduced during the 1930s to the 1950s. The hike, which circles through the forest to a pit crater, takes 1-2 hours and has well-marked nature points of interest along the way. The trail also winds over both newer and older lava flows, so it’s easy to see how the forest develops through stages as the lava ages and weathers. Although an easy walk, some of the footing is loose, so sturdy shoes should be worn; no water is available along the trail, so you should carry a quart per person. This also is a very pleasant place to observe some of Hawai’i’s unique forest birds at dawn and sunset. The cool, inviting and fragrant Wayside Park has ample parking, picnic tables, restrooms and water available. There is a small covered pavilion at which “by permit-only” camping is allowed.

View Across HOVE to the Windmills at South Point, Big Island Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

View Across HOVE to the Windmills at South Point, Big Island Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Hawai’ian Ocean View Estates (H.O.V.E.): Check your gas gauge, check your canteen, check your lunch box! Hawai’i Ocean View Estates is the last outpost of civilization for miles around. Hawai’ian Ocean View Estates is the world’s largest residential subdivision. As such, it lacks only three things: water, electrical power and, most importantly, residents. Built in the 1960s, ownership of the subdivision has passed from hand to hand, but lack of utilities has kept residence numbers low. Despite this, a hardy settlement has sprung up with a great sense of community, even though many residents rely strictly on catchment for water and personal generators for electricity. The climate in Ocean View is perfect year round, but there are no public beaches or cultural amenities, so it hasn’t flourished as a town. Ocean View boasts a few stores, restaurants, churches and a post office. Public restrooms are available below the Post Office.

Disaster of 1868 Lava Flows, South Flank of Mauna Loa: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Disaster of 1868 Lava Flows, South Flank of Mauna Loa: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Disaster of 1868/Kahuku Village: Ferocious earthquakes! Floods of glowing lava! Tsunamis swallowing hapless survivors! Between the 71 and 72 mile markers of Highway 11, just west of the South Point Turn-off, is the wild scene of a natural disaster the proportions of a Cecil B. DeMille film. The only remaining reminders of the disaster are the lava flow of 1868 exposed here, and the ruins of Kahuku Village which lie beneath it. Starting on March 27, 1868 and continuing for five relentless days, earthquakes shook the Ka’u region, including the worst earthquake recorded in Hawai’ian history, one of 7.9 magnitude on the Richter scale. Hundreds of landslides were loosed, cinder cones collapsed and small tsunamis continuously licked the Ka’u coastline. On the second of April, after a massive convulsion, a giant river of lava burst through from underneath, inundating everything in its path. A giant tsunami washed over the coastline, swallowing whole villages and canoe fleets, killing 46 people. Massive landslides flowed across the land, burying parts of Punalu’u and Ninole and ultimately killing 31 people.

Kae Lae, the Southern Most Point in the US: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Kae Lae, the Southern Most Point in the US: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

South Point: This sweeping landscape arches openly and inviting from the tumultuous shore break at Ka Le to the icy heights of Mauna Kea’s summit almost 14,000 feet above. The farthest point south in the entire United States, South Point is haunting, windswept, wild, empty, beautiful. Although still only 1-lane wide in many places, the road to Ka Lae from the Hawai’i Belt Road has been greatly improved in recent years. The roads, beaches, boat launching facilities and parking are all free and on public land, contrary to what some signs and unsavory characters might try to tell you. Just don’t leave valuables in your car, and be sure to lock it up. The brooding and dilapidated wind turbines of the Kamaoa Wind Farm are along the road to Ka Lae. This wind farm, when all of the turbines are operating, can generate enough electricity to power 100 homes; unfortunately, usually 1/3 to ½ of the turbines are out of service at any given time. The surreal setting on the green plain with the cows grazing unconcernedly, coupled with the eerie, “sci-fi” sound of the generators makes this a unique place to stop, look and listen.

The waters at South Point are wild, crystalline turquoise and wicked. It is obvious from the surf and the currents that swimming is right out along most of this coastline. The only recommended snorkeling is at the Kaulana boat launch and at the green sand beach…and then it is recommended only in calm seas. But it is beautiful; perhaps as beautiful and wild a spot to snorkel as anywhere in Hawai’i.

Mahana Bay and the Green Sand Beach at South Point: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Mahana Bay and the Green Sand Beach at South Point: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Hike to Green Sand Beach: Unique and special, Hawai’i’s green sand beaches are as beautiful as they are strange. The beach sands are composed of crystals of the semi-precious mineral olivine (also known as peridot). The green sand beach at South Point, the best known, is reached by turning left onto a signed, patchy-paved and dirt road immediately when you arrive in the Ka Lae area. Follow signs to the Kaulana boat launch and park just to the left (south) of it. The dirt road that leads along the shore to the green sand beach is sometimes gated and locked. Hiking distance is 2 ¼ miles each way along rolling tropical prairie (and if you cannot envision that, you really need to do this hike). Despite the multiplicity of dirt roads, you really cannot get lost as you are never out of sight of the shore. When you arrive above the beach on the crater rim, there is a faint track to scramble safely and easily to the beach. One can also easily scramble down from the middle (easternmost) of the cone, but this can be slippery. Although tricky to spot on the way down, from the beach looking up the way back to the crater rim is easy to follow. When visiting here, plan and act as if there were no services, and no rescue available.

A Community-Painted Mural on the Waiohinu General Store: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

A Community-Painted Mural on the Waiohinu General Store: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Waiohinu/Mark Twain Monkey Pod Tree: Waiohinu is a for-real Old-Hawaii town, as are it’s neighbors Na’alehu and Pahala. Waiohinu boasts a gas station and store, public restrooms, a small hotel and numerous bed and breakfasts as well as Margo’s Corner, a privately-operated campground. It is always wise to fill your gas tank at the first opportunity when traveling on the Southern Coast because there are no service stations operating at regular, predictable hours, or at all after dark, in most of these tiny towns. Waiohinu has another more historic distinction. It is here that Sam Clemens (Mark Twain) planted a Monkey Pod so he’d have a shady spot to sit and write. Although the original tree blew down in a hurricane in 1957, a new tree has sprung-up from the surviving roots and can be seen in the center of town by the State Historical Society Marker commemorating Mark Twain’s visit.

Downtown Na'alehu, Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Downtown Na'alehu, Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Na’alehu: Lovely, scenic, sleepy Na’alehu, the southernmost town in America is the not-so-bustling mercantile hub the southern end of Hawai’i Island. Here is the Na’alehu Fruit Stand, the source of wonderful fresh fruit and the best pizza on the Island; the Punalu’u Bakeshop, known Island-wide for its malasadas and Portuguese Sweet Bread. The Union 76 gas station is your best bet for after-dark gas in South Hawai’i, but don’t bet the farm on it being open on any given night. Especially during fishing season. The Na’alehu Police station, on the east end of town, is the only outpost of law and order constabulary between Captain Cook and Volcano.

Whittington Beach Park, Tucked Into a Small Cove Along A Portion of the Hawaii Coastline Reminescent of Big Sur: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Whittington Beach Park, Tucked Into a Small Cove Along A Portion of the Hawaii Coastline Reminiscent of Big Sur: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Whittington Beach Park/Honuapo Bay: The wild, ragged southern coastline of Ka’u, reminiscent of Big Sur, reaches its apogee here at Honuapo Bay. Although the County Beach Park is in poor repair and frequented by a less-than-desirable element, the raw sense of connection to the ravenous ocean, the eerie mood of the collapsed Pahala Sugar Co. wharf and the joy of ever-renewing life in the many tidepools and ponds that dot this shoreline make this Park a must-see stop. There are two, perhaps not conflicting, but interesting interpretations to the name Honuapo in Hawai’ian. If the reading is “honu apo”, it means “caught turtle”, a reference to the many dozens of Hawai’ian Green Sea Turtles who make this bay their home. However, if you read the words as “honua po” it means “land of the gods”; clearly in such a wildly beautiful, stark and powerful landscape, this is an apt name, as well. The true meaning is lost to the mists of time and depredation on native culture made by the missionaries, but knowing how modern speakers of Polynesian delight in the multiplicity of puns and double entendres their tongue is mother to, it is not far fetched to imagine the ancient Hawai’ians giving the bay this name with both meanings intended.

Enangered Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle on Punalu'u's Famous Black Sand Beach: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Endangered Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle on Punalu'u's Famous Black Sand Beach: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Punalu’u Black Sand Beach Park: Punalu’u’s black sand beach, a truly remarkable place of great peace, beauty and spiritual healing is home to dozens of endangered Hawai’ian Green Sea Turtles. 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. Due to chilly waters, off-shore winds, strong currents and a fearsome rip, swimmers and snorkelers should use caution when swimming at Punalu’u, but it’s hard to resist getting in and swimming with all those turtles. Camping is permitted around the pavilions by permit only and can be a windy, but wild and elemental, exercise in campcraft. Due to the exposed nature of the terrain, however, there is little privacy.

The Burnout Shell of A Sugar Refining Warehouse in Pahala: Phoito by Donald B. MacGowan

The Burned-out Shell of A Sugar Refining Warehouse in Pahala: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Pahala: Friendly, clean, quiet, scenic; Pahala seems a perfect community. Twenty years ago Pahala was a bustling center of activity for the Pahala Sugar Company, but with the demise of the sugar industry, Pahala residents have either moved on to other towns seeking new employment, or hunkered down the await what future may come. There are a few good art galleries and the old Plantation House Inn, which offer the traveler a look into post-plantation life in South Hawai’i. Pahala is also the only outpost for groceries, gasoline, banking, post-office and restaurant activities between Na’alehu and Volcano; one should be careful, however, as business hours tend to be irregular and never extend much past dark. The causal traveler should also be wary of a couple of bad speed traps on either side of Pahala. A re-birth, of a sort, is underway in Pahala and other small towns in Hawai’i; because of the extremely undervalued real estate, compared with the extremely over-valued real estate elsewhere in Hawai’i, mainlanders and retirees are buying up land as residents finally sell. This has caused a small renaissance in service-sector employment, but it will take a generation or two for these tiny towns to rebuild and return to their former bustling selves.

In Peaceful and Serene Wood Valley You Will Feel Insulated From the Hustle and Bustle of Western Civilization: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

In Peaceful and Serene Wood Valley You Will Feel Insulated From the Hustle and Bustle of Western Civilization: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Wood Valley: A few miles upslope of Pahala into the macnut groves is the tiny community of Wood Valley. There are no services available here, except for a couple of bed and breakfast establishments and the Nechung Dorje Drayang Ling Buddhist Temple, which serves as a place of teaching and retreat. If time permits, it’ is a very worthwhile way to spend a lunch hour by procuring a take-away meal in Pahala, then driving the short way up into Wood Valley to enjoy lunch in the utter tranquility that steeps this community.

Lava from Kilauea Flows Smoothly into the Ocean at La'epuki in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Lava from Kilauea Flows Smoothly into the Ocean at La'epuki in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park: Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is a magical, spiritual, wondrous, strange and beautiful place comprised of great contrasts and contradictions: dry as dust desert to teeming tropical jungle; frigid sub-arctic wasteland to steaming black sand beaches to rivers of flowing lava. The star attractions in the Park are a pair of active volcanoes; Mauna Loa is the largest mountain on earth and Kilauea is most active volcano on earth. However, there are numerous other wonders from lava tubes to crawl down, black sand beaches with sea turtles to watch, mysterious petroglyph fields to explore, tropical jungles to hike through, endangered bird species to find, happy-face spiders to amuse and an otherworldly volcanic landscape so fresh it’s still steaming. Famed for its fabulous views of Mauna Loa and Kilauea as much as for its interesting exhibits,

The Jagger Museum (named for geologist Thomas A. Jagger) is open daily from 8:30a.m. to 5:00p.m. Exhibits include murals by Herb Kawainui Kane, seismograph charts of eruptions and earthquakes, geological displays and display about the natural and human history of the Park.

Perhaps the finest short day hike in the park, a four-mile, 2-3 hour trip down into, across and back out of Kilauea Iki Crater gives one an intimate feel for volcanoes, Hawaiian-Style. Along one side, thick fern and ohi’a forest skirts along the rim and on the other, lush tropical rainforest crowds to the very brink of the crater; bleak volcanic desert lines the crater walls and covers the floor. The start and finish of the hike are along well marked, wide trails. The remainder is an easily followed, well marked trail with stone ahu (cairns) over the crater floor. As always when hiking in the Park, it is wise to avoid the noonday sun, and to remember that afternoon showers are common, especially near where this hike meets the crater rim.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. During daylight hours, an access fee is charged. The Visitor Center has a 24-hour information line at 808.985.7017 and there is a 24-hour eruption hot-line at 808.985.6000. Within the Park tune to A.M. radio 530 for continuous information broadcast. Whether returning to Kona or to Hilo after visiting the Park, remember that after dark except for perhaps in Kea’au, there is little or no food and no gas available on the south end of Hawaii Island after dark.

Gas Stations, Stores and Restaurants Close Early Along the South Coast, Be Sure You Have Everything You Need Before Leaving Volcano Village!: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Gas Stations, Stores and Restaurants Close Early Along the South Coast, Be Sure You Have Everything You Need Before Leaving Volcano Village!: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Volcano Village: One should plan ahead and expect to fill the gas tank and tummy in Volcano Village, across the highway from Hawaii volcanoes National Park. Gas prices are not, contrary to what you may have heard, any more confiscatory in expense than anywhere else on the island and Volcano is home to some first class restaurants, bakeries, interesting shops and even the island’s only winery. Plan on staying a while and enjoying the aloha in this mountain town while you recharge yourself from your busy day in South Hawaii.

Could You Have Found This Without Tour Guide?  Here is the House Elvis Presley Lived in in the Movie "Girls, Girls, Girls": Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Could You Have Found This Without Tour Guide? Here is the House Elvis Presley Lived in in the Movie "Girls, Girls, Girls": Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Remember to check out our new for touring all of Hawaii…using the Tour Guide Hawaii iPhone/iPod Touch App will save you time, save you money and allow you to see and do more with your Hawaii vacation; this quick video tells you how.

Sunrise on Mauna Loa from Jagger Museum: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Sunrise on Mauna Loa from Jagger Museum: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

For more information on traveling to Hawaii in general and visiting the Big Island in particular, visit www.tourguidehawaii.com and www.tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com. For information about the author, please go here.

All Media copyright 2009 by Donald B. MacGowan

Tour Guide Hawaii is excited and proud to announce the launch of their incredible, affordable, fabulous new Hawaii Travel iPhone/iPod Touch App

Tour Guide Hawaii's Brand New iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts Paradise in the Palm of Your Hand!

Tour Guide Hawaii's Brand New iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts Paradise in the Palm of Your Hand!

Navigate to all the most popular visitor destinations, the most interesting attractions, the most romantic and secluded beaches; effortlessly find hikes, snorkel spots, historical and cultural landmarks, shopping and dining.  And of course, our new App includes directions to, and rating of, all the public restrooms! Learn all about it, here. In addition to real GPS navigation, this app also allows you to navigate using Google Maps or, if no internet or phone service available, with on-board maps and driving directions! Our App is crammed full of entertaining and informative video presentations about how and where to snorkel, the best trails and beaches, what to pack to bring to Hawaii, cultural orientation and language tips!

Using the Tour Guide Hawaii iPhone/iPod Touch App will save you time, save you money and allow you to see and do more with your Hawaii vacation; this quick video tells you how.

Interested in seeing what kind of information our App contains?  In celebration of the release of our new App, we proudly present this list of blogs and web articles on Hawaii Travel, with URLs, of the unique and comprehensive Tour Guide Hawaii content.  Enjoy this free information at your leisure, and order your App from iTunes, today!

Tour Guide Hawaii proudly presents the best, the most interesting, the most comprehensive material on Hawaii travel ever gathered in one place!

Best About Planning Your Hawaii Trip

What To Pack And Take To Hawaii: What You Need, What You Want, What You Can Leave Out Of Your Luggage: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/07/13/what-to-pack-and-take-to-hawaii-what-you-need-what-you-want-what-you-can-leave-out-of-your-luggage/

Getting To Hawaii, Getting Around Hawaii, Getting the Most From Hawaii: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/06/04/getting-to-and-getting-around-the-big-island-of-hawaii/

Frank’s Guide to Pronouncing Hawaiian Words: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/07/01/franks-guide-to-pronouncing-the-hawaiian-langauge/

Best Beaches on Hawaii

A Quick Guide to The Best Beaches of Hawaii Island: Sun, Surf, Solitude: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/06/25/the-top-beaches-of-hawaii-island/

The Best Beaches in Hawaii: Part 1, The Main Kohala Coast: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/08/03/the-best-beaches-in-hawaii-part-1-the-main-kohala-coast/

The Best Beaches in Hawaii: Part 2, The Kona and South Kohala Coasts: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/08/05/the-best-beaches-in-hawaii-part-2-the-kona-and-south-kohala-coasts/

Best Beaches in Hawaii: Part 3, Unusual, Uncrowded and Untamed Beaches of South Hawaii: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/08/07/best-beaches-in-hawaii-part-3-unusual-uncrowded-and-untamed-beaches-of-south-hawaii/

Best Beaches in Hawaii: Part 4, Wilderness Beaches of the Big Island: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/08/09/best-beaches-in-hawaii-part-4-wilderness-beaches-of-the-big-island/

Best Beaches in Hawaii Part 5–Best Beaches for Snorkeling: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/08/11/best-beaches-in-hawaii-part-5-best-beaches-for-snorkeling/

Best Scenic Drives on Hawaii

My Favorite Scenic Drive: Hawaii’s Wild and Scenic Saddle Road!: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/09/02/my-favorite-scenic-drive-hawaiis-wild-and-scenic-saddle-road/

Big Island Whirlwind Road Trip: I have to see the whole Big Island all in one day!https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/09/15/big-island-whirlwind-road-trip-i-have-to-see-the-whole-big-island-all-in-one-day/

Kona Heritage Corridor Scenic Drive: An Exceptional Day Trip Exploration of Historical, Lovely, Up-Country Kona!:https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/06/14/kona-heritage-corridor-scenic-drive-an-exceptional-day-trip-exploration-of-historical-lovely-up-country-kona/

Best Scenic Drives on Hawaii #1: The Saddle Road…Kona to the Summit of Mauna Kea, Kaumana Cave and Hilo:https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/08/17/best-scenic-drives-on-hawaii-1-the-saddle-road-kona-to-the-summit-of-mauna-kea-kaumana-cave-and-hilo/

Best Scenic Drives on Hawaii #2: North Kona and Kohala, Ancient History, Sumptuous Beaches: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/08/21/best-scenic-drives-on-hawaii-2-north-kona-and-kohala-ancient-history-sumptuous-beaches/

Best Scenic Drives on Hawaii #3: Kona to Hamakua and Hilo: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/08/23/best-scenic-drives-on-hawaii-3-kona-to-hamakua-and-hilo/

Best Scenic Drives in Hawaii #4: Kona Coast to South Point and Ka’u https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/08/26/best-scenic-drives-in-hawaii-4-kona-coast-to-south-point-and-kau/

Best Scenic Drives in Hawaii #5: Kailua Kona to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Puna and Lava Viewing: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/08/30/best-scenic-drives-in-hawaii-5-kailua-kona-to-hawaii-volcanoes-national-park-puna-and-lava-viewing/

New iPhone/iPod Touch App Helps you Explore Hawaii’s Hidden, Romantic and Mysterious Places: The South Coast of Hawaii: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/09/18/new-iphoneipod-touch-app-helps-you-explore-hawaiis-hidden-romantic-and-mysterious-places-the-south-coast-of-hawaii/

Road Trip Through Keauhou Historic District, Big Island, Hawaii: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2008/07/10/wwwtourguidehawaicom-presents-a-road-trip-through-keauhou-historic-district-big-island-hawaii/

Best About Hiking:

The Best Short Hikes on Hawaii Island: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/06/29/the-best-short-hikes-on-hawaii-island/

The Adventure and Romance of Hiking To Kilauea Volcano’s Active Lava Flows: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2008/07/20/tour-guide-hawaii-presents-the-adventure-and-romance-of-hiking-to-kilauea-volcanos-active-lava-flows/

Exploring the Summit Hikes of Mauna Kea: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/10/23/exploring-the-summit-hikes-of-mauna-kea-hawaii/

Hiking to Captain Cook Monument on the Big Island of Hawaii: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/10/16/hiking-to-captain-cook-monument-on-the-kona-coast-of-hawaii/

Hiking Hawaii’s Magnificent Waipi’o Valley: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/10/18/hiking-hawaiis-magnificent-waipio-valley/

Hiking Down Into Pololu Valley, Big Island of Hawaii: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/10/20/hiking-down-into-pololu-valley-big-island-of-hawaii/

Kiholo Bay Beach Hike: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/10/21/kiholo-bay-beach-hike/

Hiking to Honomalino Bay, Big Island, Hawaii: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/10/19/hiking-to-honomalino-bay-big-island-hawaii/

Historic Kailua Kona Town on the Big Island of Hawaii: A Walking Tour: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/05/03/historic-kailua-kona-town-on-the-big-island-of-hawaii-a-walking-tour/

Hiking and Camping at Hawaii’s Last Wilderness Beach: La’amaomao the Wind God and Makalawena Beach: Advice: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/02/21/hiking-and-camping-at-hawaiis-last-wilderness-beach-laamaomao-the-wind-god-and-makalawena-beach/

Driving and Hiking to the Summit of Mauna Kea, Big Island of Hawaii: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/07/26/advice-driving-and-hiking-to-the-summit-of-mauna-kea-big-island-of-hawaii/

Hidden Secrets of Hawaii: The Golden Ponds of Ke-awa-iki: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/04/21/hidden-secrets-of-hawaii-the-golden-ponds-of-ke-awa-iki/

Hiking at Kilauea Volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/01/07/hiking-at-kilauea-volcano-on-the-big-island-of-hawaii/

Hiking the Kilauea Iki Trail: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/09/24/hiking-the-kilauea-iki-trail-new-iphoneipod-touch-app-helps-you-find-all-the-unique-secluded-unusual-destinations-on-hawaii/

Best About Snorkeling

The Best Snorkeling Spots on Hawaii Island: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/06/27/the-best-snorkeling-spots-on-hawaii-island/

Hawaii Island Snorkeling Tips, Part I: Gear: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/05/16/hawaii-island-snorkeling-tips-part-i-gear-2/

Hawaii Island Snorkeling Tips, Part II: Technique : https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/05/18/hawaii-island-snorkeling-tips-part-ii-technique-2/

Hawaii Island Snorkeling Tips, Part III: Protecting the Reef and Reef Animals: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/05/20/hawaii-island-snorkeling-tips-part-iii-reef-etiquette-2/

Hawaii Island Snorkeling Tips, Part IV: Snorkeling Safety: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/05/26/hawaii-island-snorkeling-tips-part-iv-snorkeling-safety-2/

Hawaii Island Snorkeling Tips, Part V: Best Snorkeling Beaches of the Big Island: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/05/28/hawaii-island-snorkeling-tips-part-v-best-snorkeling-beaches-of-the-big-island-2/

Hawaii Island Snorkeling Tips Part VI: Wilderness Beaches of the Big Island!: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/05/30/hawaii-island-snorkeling-tips-part-vi-wilderness-beaches-of-the-big-islanda/

Frank’s Big Island Travel Hints

Frank’s Big Island Travel Hints #1: Introduction: Kona Coast: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/09/26/franks-big-island-travel-hints-1-north-kona-and-kohala-ancient-history-sumptuous-beaches/

Frank’s Big Island Travel Hints #2: Kona South to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Hilo:https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/09/27/franks-big-island-travel-hints-2-kona-coast-south-of-honaunau-to-kau/

Frank’s Big Island Travel Hints # 3: Kona North to Waikoloa and the Kohala Coast: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/09/29/1794/

Frank’s Big Island Travel Hints #4: Waikoloa to Pololu Valley; https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/10/01/franks-big-island-travel-hints-4-waikoloa-to-pololu-valley-4/

Frank’s Big Island Travel Hints #5: Hawi to Kona via the Kohala Mountain road, Waimea and Waikoloa: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/10/03/franks-big-island-travel-hints-5-hawi-to-kona-via-kohala-mountain-road-waimea-and-waikoloa-4/

Frank’s Big Island Travel Hints #6: Waimea and the Hamakua Coast: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/10/04/franks-big-island-travel-hints-6-waimea-and-the-hamakua-coast-4/

Frank’s Big Island Travel Hints # 7: Around Hilo: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/10/06/franks-big-island-travel-hints-7-hilo-side-akaka-falls-to-panaewa-rainforest-zoo/

Frank’s Big Island Travel Hints #8: Mysterious Puna!: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/10/08/franks-big-island-travel-hints-8-mysterious-puna/

Frank’s Big Island Travel Hints #9: Made for Adventure: The Jungles, Volcanoes, Hot Springs and Tidepools of Puna!: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/10/09/franks-hawaii-travel-hints-9-made-for-adventure-the-jungles-volcanoes-hot-springs-and-tidepools-of-puna/

Frank’s Big Island Travel Hints #10: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/10/11/franks-big-island-travel-hints-10-hawaii-volcanoes-national-park/

Frank’s Travel Hints # 11: Exploring Deeper Into Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Big Island, Hawaii: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/10/13/franks-big-island-travel-hints-11-exploring-deeper-into-hawaii-volcanoes-national-park-big-island-hawaii/

Frank’s Big Island Travel Hints #12: More fun in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Big Island, Hawaii: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/10/15/franks-big-island-travel-hints-12-more-fun-in-hawaii-volcanoes-national-park-big-island-hawaii-4/

Frank’s Big Island Travel Hints #13: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Chain of Craters Road: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/10/17/franks-big-island-travel-hints-13-hawaii-volcanoes-national-park-chain-of-craters-road/

Best Interesting Stories and General Reading about Hawaii

The Beautiful, Enigmatic and Cryptic Petroglyphs of Hawaii Island: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/04/23/the-beautiful-enigmatic-and-cryptic-petroglyphs-of-hawaii-island/

Hawaii’s Amazing Lava Fossils: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/08/24/hawaiis-amazing-lava-fossils/

The Sugar Industry in Hawaii: Kona Sugar Company and West Hawai’i Railway Company: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/04/25/the-sugar-industry-in-hawaii-kona-sugar-company-and-west-hawai%E2%80%99i-railway-company/

Captain Cook’s Legacy: Exploring the History and Waters of Kealakekua Bay: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/04/07/949/

Kilauea’s Eruption Just Keeps Getting More Fantastic!: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2008/07/31/wwwtourguidehawaiicom-presents-new-video-of-kilauea-volcano-erupting/

Kalapana, Hawaii: From the Fires of Hades to the Eden of Rebirth: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/01/17/kalapana-hawaii-from-the-fires-of-hades-to-the-eden-of-rebirth/

Pu’u Loa Petroglyph Field, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/03/17/823/

Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles: Honu of the Big Island: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/09/19/hawaiis-magnificent-honu-the-endangered-hawaiian-green-sea-turtle/

Heartbreak of the Gods: Kuasmo’o BattleField and Lekeleke Graveyrd: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/04/29/heartbreak-of-the-gods-kuamoo-batlle-field-and-lekeleke-graveyard-big-island-of-hawaii/

A Brief History of Ranching in Hawaii: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/05/24/rodeo-to-rock-and-roll-a-brief-history-of-ranching-in-hawaii/

Rising From The Past: The Rebirth of Hapaiali’i Heiau, a Hawaiian Temple for Honoring Royalty: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/05/01/1118/

The Hawaiian Snow Goddess Poliahu and the Summit of Mauna Kea…: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/02/05/the-hawaiian-snow-goddess-poliahu-and-the-summit-of-mauna-kea/

Mo’okini Heiau: Warrior Kings and Human Sacrifice on Hawai’i: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/01/03/mookini-heiau-warrior-kings-and-human-sacrifice-on-hawaii-2/

The Call of Aloha…:https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/the-call-of-aloha/

Why I love Hawaii…: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/01/13/why-i-love-hawaii/

Hilo Askance: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/10/10/hilo-askance/

Conjuring Visions of Paradise: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/02/19/conjuring-visions-of-paradise/

Volcano Art Center—A Kipuka of Creativity on the Rim of Madam Pele’s Home: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/06/01/volcano-art-center-hawaii-volcanoes-national-park/

Jagger Museum, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: https://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/04/01/jagger-museum-hawaii-volcanoes-national-rark/

This post has been greatly expanded and updated here.

Approximate minimum time start to finish (to see every site): 14 hours.

Ahu'ena Heiau, Kailua Kona Hawaii: Photo By Donnie MacGowan

Ahu'ena Heiau, Kailua Kona Hawaii: Photo By Donnie MacGowan

We do not generally recommend trying to see the Big Island all in one day…there is a good reason it is called “The Big Island”. However, vacation schedules and group interests vary and a surprising number of visitors evince a keen desire to tour the entire island in a single day. *sigh*. They rarely attempt it twice. However, if we were to recommend a day trip round the island, commencing at Kailua Kona, the itinerary below would probably be your best bet at hitting the greatest number of highlights in the shortest possible time.

At 14 hours driving and touring time, there is little time for dilly-dally and the unhurried visitor will of necessity trim this ambitious schedule. Easy ways to shorten the itinerary if you find yourself falling behind include skipping legs 5-7 (i.e., follow Hwy 11 all the way from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park into Hilo; time savings of about 2 1/2 hours) or skipping legs 12-13 (i.e., traveling along Hwy 19 from Hilo through Honoka’a directly to Waimea; time savings about 2 1/2 hours). You may also choose simply to skip any individual site anywhere along this route; for instance, Leg 1, Upcountry Kona, can easily be done on another morning from Kailua Kona and can be omitted from this trip simply by driving Hwy 11 straight to Punalu’u, saving you perhaps an hour.

However ambitious, this schedule will allow you, if you start out about 6 in the morning and proceed apace, to circumnavigate the island seeing everything and arrive at Hapuna Beach in time for a delightful picnic dinner (no food available at beach, so stop and buy take-away in Waimea) and an absolutely unforgettable sunset.

If you are serious about undertaking this one-day, whirl-wind tour, we highly recommend you purchase AND USE Tour Guide Hawaii’s newly released  iPhone/iPod App…it uses GPS, Google Maps with driving directions and has onboard maps and driving directions where cell phone service and internet are not available.  It plays a video presentation with all kinds of information about history, culture, safety and the natural history about all the most fascinating sites on the island, including the whereabouts of all the public restrooms!  The iPhone App gives you detailed, accurate information on where to go, what to bring, what to expect when you get there and what to do next.  Available here, the App will give you much, much more detailed information than this blog post.

So what are you doing waiting around reading this for? It’s a BIG ISLAND you are trying to explore and you’ve got to hustle! Even though you are the one who decided to try it all in one day, remember that we warned you it would be a long, long day!

Leg 1) Start at north end of Keauhou Historic District on Ali’i Drive, head south on Ali’i Drive to jct with Kamehameha II Hwy; east on Kamehameha III to Hwy 11. Take Hwy 11 south to jct with Hwy 160, just south of the town of Captain Cook. Head downhill on Hwy 160 to Napo’opo’o Village, turn north on Pu’uhonua Beach Road to Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park at end of road; this is where you view the Captain Cook Monument.

Hapaiali'i Heiau in the Keauhou Historic District, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Hapaiali'i Heiau in the Keauhou Historic District, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Keauhou Historic District and Kona Coffee

For almost 400 years, temples and palaces along the Kona coastline served as a kind of “Rome of the Pacific”, a great political, religious and cultural center in Polynesia, until the capital was moved to Honolulu in 1850 by Kamehameha III. The most important, interesting and best preserved historical and cultural sites lie within the Keauhou Historic District, between Kahalu’u Beach Park in Kailua running south 6 miles to Kuamo’o Bay in Keauhou. The District contains perhaps a dozen fascinating sites that are easy to walk to, well maintained and quite interesting.

To see the numerous fascinating and important archaeological sites in the Keauhou Historic District, it is necessary to park your car in the free parking at either Kahalu’u Beach Park or the Keauhou Beach Resort and explore on foot.

Just uphill from the Historic District is the Kona Coffee District. Hawaii is the only state in the union which produces coffee, and Kona coffee is perhaps the finest in the world. Over 2 millions pounds of coffee a year are produced on about 600, 2-3 acre farms; tours of coffee farms and roasteries are available.

Captain Cook Monument at Kealakekua Bay, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Captain Cook Monument at Kealakekua Bay, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Kealakekua Bay Historical District and Captain Cook Monument

A place of both dramatic historic events and unparalleled scenery, beautiful and now peaceful Kealakekua Bay (Pathway of the Gods) opens beneath steep, beetling cliffs on the ancient surfing beach along the shoreline of Napo’opo’o Village. The site of arguably the most important event in the history of Polynesia, home to pods of frolicking dolphins, providing some truly breathtaking snorkeling, Kealakekua Bay is one of the most magical spots in the State of Hawai’i.

Across the bay from Napo’opo’o stands the solitary white obelisk that marks the lonely Captain Cook Monument. It was in this broad bay that Captain James Cook made his deepest impression on, and longest visit with, native Hawai’ians when he first arrived late in November of 1778; and it was here where he met his tragic end in February 1779 during his second visit. At the State Park at the end of the road in Napo’opo’o are picnic facilities, pavilions and restrooms.

Leg 2) Return south on Pu’uhonua Beach Road to jct with Hwy 160; Hwy 160 south to Pu’u Honua O Hounaunau National Historical Park-this is the Place of Refuge.

Place of Refuge at Hounaunau, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Place of Refuge at Hounaunau, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Place of Refuge: Pu’u Honua O Honaunau National Historic Park

A beautiful, peaceful, restful piece of Old Hawai’i, Pu’u Honua O Honaunau is a place of ease and regeneration for weary and jaded souls. Of enormous historical and cultural significance, the sacred grounds at Honaunau are the best-preserved remaining Pu’u Honua, or Place of Refuge, complex in Hawai’i. It is also a wonderful area to wander, snorkel, relax and picnic. For anyone who had any doubts about what Old Hawai’i was like, a trip to Honaunau will fill your imagination, your camera and your spirit.

A complex and strict order of law, known as the kapu system, controlled and governed everything in ancient Hawai’i. Under this system, judgment was death, immediate and final, unless the accused could escape to one of the designated places of refuge. There the accused would undergo a cleansing ceremony, be absolved of all crimes, and allowed to return to his family free of onus. The National Park has a Visitor’s Center and bookshop, full picnic and restroom facilities. Although no swimming or snorkeling is allowed within the Park, adjacent is Two-Step Beach on Hounaunau Bay, one of the premiere snorkeling spots on the Island.

Leg 3) Return to Hwy 11 via Hwy 160; continue south on Hwy 11 to Punalu’u Road; Punalu’u Road to Punalu’u Black Sand Beach Park.

Bradford Thomas Macgowan Filming at Punalu'u Beach, Ka'u Hawaii: Photo by Donald Bradford MacGowan

Bradford Thomas Macgowan Filming at Punalu'u Beach, Ka'u Hawaii: Photo by Donald Bradford MacGowan

Punalu’u Black Sand Beach Park

A truly remarkable place of great peace, beauty and spiritual healing, Punalu’u’s black sand beach is world-renowned. Endangered Hawai’ian Green Sea Turtles swim the waters here and bask on the beach. 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. The ocean here can be rough, so use caution when swimming.

Available services include water, picnic tables, restrooms, electrical outlets, and pavilions, parking; camping is by permit only. During peak tourist time, there is a souvenir stand with some packaged food items and canned drinks for sale, otherwise the nearest food, gasoline and other services are in either Pahala or Na’alehu.

Leg 4) Return to Hwy 11 on Punalu’u road; continue east on Hwy 11 to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Entrance and jct with Crater Rim Drive; take Crater Rim Drive west to Kilauea Visitor’s Center to Jagger Museum.

Pu'u O'o Vent on Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Frank Burgess' friend whose name momentarily escapes me

Pu'u O'o Vent on Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Frank Burgess' friend whose name momentarily escapes me

Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is a magical, spiritual, wondrous, strange and beautiful place comprised of great contrasts and contradictions: dry as dust desert to teeming tropical jungle; frigid sub-arctic wasteland to steaming black sand beaches to rivers of flowing lava.

The star attractions in the Park are a pair of active volcanoes; Mauna Loa is the largest mountain on earth and Kilauea is most active volcano on earth. However, there are numerous other wonders from lava tubes to crawl down, black sand beaches with sea turtles to watch, mysterious petroglyph fields to explore, tropical jungles to hike through, endangered bird species to find, happy-face spiders to amuse and an otherworldly volcanic landscape so fresh it’s still steaming.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. During daylight hours, an access fee is charged. The Visitor Center has a 24-hour information line at 808.985.7017 and there is a 24-hour eruption hotline at 808.985.6000. Within the Park tune to A.M. radio 530 for continuous information broadcast. There tourist items available for sale and one restaurant and in the park, however generally shopping, restaurants and gasoline are only available in the nearby village of Volcano.

Kilauea Visitors' Center, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Kilauea Visitors' Center, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Kilauea Visitor Center

Newly remodeled and updated, the Kilauea Visitor’s Center is an outstanding resource of information on Hawaii’s volcanoes and the National Park; the not-to-be-missed first stop in the park you must make. The Center is run by enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff that has the most up-to-date information on viewing the eruption, hiking and camping, bird watching, stargazing and just about any other topic of interest to Park visitors. Available for sale in the Center are maps, guidebooks, books and videos about the volcanoes, Hawai’iana, history, plants and every topic you can imagine pertinent to the Park, even souvenirs. There are free brochures and pamphlets on various trails, attractions, hiking safety and lava viewing hazards and precautions.

The Visitor Center is open daily from 7:45 a.m. to 5 p.m.; there are public restrooms, water and pay phones available. Starting at 9 a.m. and showing every hour on the hour is a 20 minute informative movie about the Park; the film changes from time to time, but always contains spectacular footage of eruptions, information on volcanology and the natural and human history of the Park.

Halema'uma'u Crater at night from Jagger Museum, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Halema'uma'u Crater at night from Jagger Museum, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Jagger Museum and Hawai’i Volcano Observatory

Famed for its fabulous views of Mauna Loa and Kilauea as much as for its interesting exhibits, The Jagger Museum (named for geologist Thomas A. Jagger) is open daily from 8:30a.m. to 5:00p.m. Exhibits include murals by Herb Kawainui Kane, seismograph charts of eruptions and earthquakes, geological displays and display about the natural and human history of the Park.

When entering the parking lot of the Museum/Observatory, be especially careful of the Federally-protected Hawaii Goose, the Nene, who seem to congregate here. The Nene is the State Bird of Hawai’i, and this parking lot and its surrounding area constitute one of the best places for viewing them.

Leg 5) Follow Crater Rim Drive back to Park Entrance and then to Hwy 11. Go east on Hwy 11 to jct with Hwy 130 at Kea’au; take Hwy 130 south to Pahoa.

Hot Ponds Near Pahaoa in Puna District: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Hot Ponds Near Pahaoa in Puna District: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Puna District and Pahoa Town

Uncrowded, off the beaten track and largely undiscovered by tourists, Puna District is a magnificent wonderland; from incredible tree-tunneled roads, geothermal fields of steam vents, lovely beach parks, hot ponds, hikes on raw lava flows and jungle trails, and unequaled snorkeling, the land cries out for the visitor to explore a little bit.

At the center of Puna is Pahoa Town; wild, untamed and even a bit unruly, with its false-front, western-style buildings and raised wooden sidewalks, Pahoa looks more like it belongs in Wyoming. But Wild West isn’t the only subculture evident here…tie-dye banners and the general “flower-power” ambience some businesses and citizens lend Pahoa give it a decidedly “’60’s” feel. It has been said of Pahoa that if it weren’t for counter-cultural influences, it would have no cultural influences at all. The charm and allure of this way of living is evident when you consider that the region around Pahoa is the fastest growing portion of the island. Pahoa has some of the best restaurants on the island, THE best natural foods store and a great public pool.

Leg 6) At Pahoa, get on Hwy 130 to Kalapana.

Young Coconut Palms Planted in a Lava Crack Near Kalapana, Puna Hawaii" Photo by Kelly Kuchman

Young Coconut Palms Planted in a Lava Crack Near Kalapana, Puna Hawaii" Photo by Kelly Kuchman

Kalapana Disaster of 1990/Kaimu Black Sand Beach

In 1990 the volcano goddess Pele determined it was time for some serious housecleaning in Puna. Lava flows from Kilauea’s East Rift engulfed the villages of Royal Gardens, Kaimu and Kalapana, destroying virtually everything. Buried were a centuries old fishing village and a world famous black sand beach. When the lava came, it wiped out not just material possessions; it wiped out a way of life and a landscape cherished by generations.

The Big Island’s newest black sand beach, Kaimu Beach, is a lovely if barren crescent of sand at the end of an unforgiving expanse of lava from the 1990 flows. The trail to the new black sand beach is marked with hundreds of young palms, numerous lava casts which include palms, pandanas fruit and even some fish that were caught in tide pools.

From the lava hillocks along the trail you can get nice views of the eruption plume at Pu’u O’o, up on the flank of Kilauea, as well as the steam clouds down a few miles along the coast where the lava enters the sea. Restrooms and fast food are available at the end of the road.

Leg 7) From Kalapana take Hwy 137 to jct with Hwy 132 at Kapoho; take Hwy 132 northward to Lava Trees State Monument.

Lava Trees State Monument: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Lava Trees State Monument: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Lava Trees State Monument

Under a lacey canopy of monkeypod trees, casts of ohi’a trees stand as monuments to a fast-moving pahoehoe lava flow that passed through here in 1790. When the lava hit the water-saturated ohi’a trees, it cooled and began to congeal around them. The original ohi’a trees burned away but the quickly cooled lava around them stands here today, hollow, with imprints of the tree bark inside.

Lava Trees Park offers trails to hike and a restful, bird-filled jungle to sit and listen to. You can spend between 20 minutes to an hour wandering the trails, here, exploring and discovering. Be careful, however, the area is riddled with hidden cracks in the ground which can make exploring hazardous.

You may wish to avail yourself of the restrooms here; they are the last public facilities for some distance.

Leg 8) Return to Hwy 130; Hwy 130 north through Pahoa to Kea’au and jct with Hwy 11. Hwy 11 North to Hilo.

Hilo Farmer's Market: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Hilo Farmer's Market: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Hilo Town

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 Lilioukalani Gardens, or of Hilo Bay as you drive down from the mountains, or the rain-forest and waterfall choked gulches with lovely beaches along the highway north of town, make Hilo one of the most truly, achingly-lovely spots on earth.

More laid back and sleepier than bustling Kailua Kona, Hilo is the largest town on the island, and the county seat. The Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii, Tsunami Museum, Lyman House Missionary Museum and the Panaewa Rainforest Zoo are all wonderful places to learn about various aspects of Hawaii. There are numerous shopping districts, two large malls and the Historic Old Hilo downtown shops to browse through, a variety of sprawling green parks, a fabulous tropical arboretum right downtown and a mile-long black-sand beach fronting the bay to explore. Hilo’s Farmer’s Market is a “must see” for any visitor who is spending time on this side of the island.

Leg 9) In Hilo, go north on Hwy 11 to jct with Hwy 19; take Hwy 19 to jct with Waianuenue Ave; head southwestward on Waianuenue Ave (Hwy 200) to Rainbow Falls.

Rainbow Falls, Hilo Hawaii: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Rainbow Falls, Hilo Hawaii: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Rainbow Falls and Wailuku River Park

The subject of recent and ancient legend, Rainbow Falls is the lovely emblem of Hilo town. 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. At any time, however, it’s a beautiful place and worthwhile to visit. The rainbows within the falls 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.

Restrooms are by the parking lot and a souvenir shop is located across the street.

Leg 10) Return on Hwy 200 to Hwy 19, head north on Hwy 19 to Hwy 220 at Honomu; continue through Honomu to Akaka Falls.

Akaka Falls, Hamakua Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Akaka Falls, Hamakua Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Akaka Falls

There is a reason that Akaka Falls rates as the most visited tourist site on the Island of Hawai’i. Simply put, the 420 foot, free falling plunge of clear water down a fern festooned cliff is an amazing and beautiful site. Leaving the parking lot, the paved loop trail of about one mile, winds through a wonderful jungle of exotic flowers, ferns, orchids, ginger and bamboo. Two smaller falls are also seen along the way to the stellar Akaka Falls. Akaka Falls has restrooms but no other facilities.

When visiting Akaka Falls, be sure to save some time to explore the shops, galleries and cafes of Honomu on the way back to the highway; it’s unlike anywhere you’ve ever been before…guaranteed.

Leg 11) Return Hwy 220 through Honomu to Hwy 19, then north on Hwy 19 to Honoka’a.

Akaka Falls, Hamakua Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Akaka Falls, Hamakua Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Honoka’a Town

Built in the era of sugar great plantations and left culturally and economically isolated after the industry collapse, until recently Honoka’a was content to drowse along through the decades. A boom in real estate and return of vital human energy to the area has made a literal renaissance of the town. It boasts numerous wonderful restaurants, gift and boutique shops and the highest density of antique shops on the island. Be sure to stop to explore a little on your way to or from Waipi’o Valley…it’s a fun, happening kind of place and always steeped with aloha.

Driving north or south out of Honoka’a, remnants of old sugar mills, fields and wild cane can still be seen. When Captain Cook arrived in 1778, only wild sugar cane was growing; at its height in the mid-1960’s one in 12 people were employed in the sugar industry which produced in excess of a million tons of sugar annually. 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 sweet flavor.

Leg 12) At Honoka’a, turn north on Hwy 240 to Waipi’o Valley.

Waipi'o Valley, Hamakua Hawaii: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Waipi'o Valley, Hamakua Hawaii: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Waipi’o Valley

Waipi’o Valley is arguably the most magical place on the Big Island. The steep canyon walls and verdant fields of the valley floor, the mile long black sand beach and numerous immense waterfalls that line the valley walls all call out to the visitor for exploration.

Always listed among the most beautiful spots in the State of Hawai’i, this valley is as hauntingly lovely as it is difficult to see in its entirety.

Tours down into the valley in vans, on horse drawn wagons and ATVs can be booked in Honoka’a. Over-flights in fixed wing aircraft and helicopters also offer fine venues from which to see this amazing piece of Hawai’i. Hiking down and wandering the immense black sand beach, exploring the ironwood copses and sand dunes and discovering the hidden waterfalls is also a popular way to see the canyon. Although the hike down is only a little over 1 mile and a thousand feet elevation loss, the climb back up is sweltering in the ferocious sun and heat. Think twice before hiking down. Facilities at the Scenic Overlook include a pavilion and restrooms; there are none within the valley itself.

Leg 13 Return on Hwy 240 to Honoka’a; at Honoka’a turn west on Hwy 19 to Waimea.

Waimea and Kohala Volcano from the Lower Slopes of Mauna Kea: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Waimea and Kohala Volcano from the Lower Slopes of Mauna Kea: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Waimea Town and Cowboy Country

Snuggled between Mauna Kea and Kohala Volcano in Hawaii’s scenic mountain heart, seemingly always shrouded in mist and chilly, Waimea is definitely Hawai’ian cowboy country. Although jeans and flannel shirts appear to be the town uniform, Waimea is very sophisticated, boasting some of the finest shopping and restaurants and the most modern hospital on the island.

From Waimea, Highway 250, the Kohala Mountain Road, spills beautifully through mountain, upland meadow and forest to the “Old Hawaii” town and artist community at Hawi.

Additionally, the cattle industry centers in Waimea. In 1793 British Navigator George Vancouver presented cows to King Kamehameha which were allowed to roam free and soon became a problem. Shortly after horses were brought to Hawaii in 1804, Kamehameha recruited California vaqueros, whom Hawai’ians called “paniolo”–a corruption of the word “Espańol”–to control the wild herds, and the generations-old ranching lifestyle here was born.

The vaqueros also brought their guitars and their love of music. A deeply musical people, the Hawaiians were intensely interested in these, the first stringed instruments they had seen. They quickly learned to work-out their own tunings, called “slack key guitar”, which more suited the style of their indigenous music.

Leg 14) At Waimea, continue on Hwy 19 (also called Kawaihae Road) to Kawaihae; at Kawaihae, turn south on Hwy 19 to Hapuna Beach. If you have timed your trip right, you will arrive at Hapuna Beach before sunset. This is a most amazing place to watch the sunset over the Pacific Ocean with Haleakala on Maui looming on the horizon. If it is already dark, proceed on Hwy 19 south to Kailua Kona.

Inviting Hapuna Beach, Always on the List of the Word's Top 10 beaches: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Inviting Hapuna Beach, Always on the List of the Word's Top 10 beaches: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Hapuna Beach

Always rated in the Top 10 of American beaches, Hapuna Beach is the premiere beach destination on the Island of Hawai’i. Long, wide and phenomenally sandy, it has everything one dreams of in a Hawai’ian beach: abundant sun, surf, clean, clear and quiet snorkeling water, shade and well-maintained facilities.

There are lifeguards, several pavilions, barbecues, picnic tables, restrooms, showers and a small café. The center of the beach is for wave play and boogie boarding, the north and south coves are quieter, for snorkeling or gentle floating. Although most patrons must walk about 100 yards down a path from the parking lot, Handicapped Parking exists right on the beach.

Leg 15) Proceed on Hwy 19 south to Kailua Kona.

Downtown Kailua Town, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Downtown Kailua Town, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donald MacGowan

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