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by Donald B. MacGowan

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Kolekole Beach Park: Graphic from Photo by Donnie MacGowan

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

Kolekole Beach Park

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

Stormy surf at Kolekole Beach, Hilo Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Surprising, wild, lovely, peaceful Kolekole Beach Park is the jungle gem of the Hamakua Coast beach parks. The river you saw magnificently jumping with such abandon off the cliff at Akaka Falls ends its journey to the sea by sluicing down through this Koa and palm tree filled gulch and smashing into the surf at Kolekole Beach Park. Neatly hemmed on three sides by dense jungle canyon, Kolekole features lawns, picnic facilities, and a water-fall festooned swimming hole, all leading the visitor to the pounding, cobble beach in the furious surf.

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

The rope swing over the falls and lovely swimming hole are popular with everybody, Kolekole Beach Park, Hilo Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Kolekole Beach park is located just north of mile marker 14 on Highway 19; the narrow access road turns sharply uphill just before the massive bridge over Kolekole Gulch. Kolekole means “raw” or “scarred” in Hawaiian suggestive of the raw gash of Kolekole Gulch, but the term has come to mean “talk story” in pidgin and that is what locals come here to do, “talk story” with friends and family as the fish, surf, barbecue and relax.

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

Kolekole Jungle from the Old Mamalahoa Highway, Hilo Hawaii: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

The lovely, jungle-draped access road tumbles down the steep slopes of Kolekole Gulch to the side of Kolekole Stream, which rises at about 8000 feet on eastern slope of Mauna Kea, flows over Akaka Falls and then down to Kolekole Beach. In addition to the koa trees, varieties of palm, banana, fern and liana vine and lots of orchids can be found along this road, growing down to the river. A remnant of the Old Mamalahoa Highway turns off from the access road at the bridge over Kolekole Stream, and runs through the incredible jungle all the way to Hakalau Gulch. This section of road used to be a very scenic drive until the earthquake of 2006 rattled the depression-era bridges.

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

Highway 19 Overpass at Kolekole Beach Park, Hilo Hawaii: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

That huge, 100 foot high bridge that spans Kolekole Gulch, running over the park at the mouth of the stream, was originally built by the Hawai’i Consolidated Railway Company as a railway bridge. Debris from major damage to the bridge by the tsunami of 1946 are visible underneath, even today. Damage to this, and the other bridges up and down the Hamakua Coast forced the closure of the railroad line. The bridges had been repaired and rebuilt for automobiles by 1949, opening the connection between Honoka’a and Hilo once again.

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

The wild surf at Kolekole Beach is generally too rough to swim in, Hilo Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Although locals surf and swim unconcernedly here, the visitor is advised to admire the water, but not go in. Not only are the currents and tides lethally treacherous here, but stream mouths and murky water are prime hunting grounds of Hawai’i’s own tiger, Mano, the shark. Remember that most all Hawai’i streams are infected with leptospirosis and giardia; do not drink from the streams, do not allow stream water to get into your mouth and do no attempt swimming in the stream if you have any open cuts or scratches.

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

Kolekole River from the road, Hilo Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Facilities at Kolekole Beach Park include picnic pavilions and tables, pit barbecues, showers, restrooms. There is no drinking water at the park; remember to bring your own. Camping is available by permit only; details are available here.  The park can be crowded on weekends but is generally deserted during the week.

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

Picnic Grounds at Kolekole Beach Park, Hilo Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

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

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

The Old Mamalahoa Highway Crosses over Kolekole River, Hilo Hawaii: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

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

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

Everett Maynard at Kolekole Beach, Hilo Hawaii: Graphic from Photo by Donnie MacGowan

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This post has been greatly expanded, updated and modified—a very much superior version resides here; I think you will prefer it!

Photos and Text by Donald MacGowan

The Men of Tour Guide decided to take some much needed time away from the office and take a scenic drive to the Hamakua Coast of the Big Island.

The Men of Tour Guide on the Road: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

The Men of Tour Guide on the Road: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

We left Kailua Kona in the early morning and drove Highway 190 towards Waimea Town.

 Along Highway 190 Looking Toward Kohala Mountain: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Along Highway 190 Looking Toward Kohala Mountain: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

We past by the spectacular over looks of the Kohala Coastline and on up the hills towards Pu’uanahulu.

Hualalai Volcano and Pu'uananhulu from Hwy-190--Note Yellow Blossoms on Silver Oaks: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Hualalai Volcano and Pu'uananhulu from Hwy-190--Note Yellow Blossoms on Silver Oaks: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

When we reached Waimea, snow covered Mauna Kea was standing tall in the morning sun to greet us.

Snow on Mauna Kea Waimea, Hawaii: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Snow on Mauna Kea Waimea, Hawaii: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Statue of Heroic Paniolo Ikua Purdy, Waimea Hawaii: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Statue of Heroic Paniolo Ikua Purdy, Waimea Hawaii: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Dropping down to the Hamakua Coast from Waimea on Highway 19, we past through the fragrant and beautiful eucalyptus forest, with more views of Mauna Kea.

Driving through the Eucalyptus Forest on Highhway 19 Between Honoka'a and Waimea: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Driving through the Eucalyptus Forest on Highhway 19 Between Honoka'a and Waimea: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Snow on Mauna Kea from Hwy 19: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Snow on Mauna Kea from Hwy 19: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

We paused in Honoka’a Town for a much needed cup of coffee and to take a moment to stroll the enchanting shops along the main street of town.

Honoka'a Town is Lined With Intersting and Wonderful Shops and Restaurants--Including Some of Hawaii's Best Antique Stores: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Honoka'a Town is Lined With Intersting and Wonderful Shops and Restaurants--Including Some of Hawaii's Best Antique Stores: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Like a Miniature Triceratops, This Jackson's Chameleon Unconcernedly Strolls the Streets of Honaka'a: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Like a Miniature Triceratops, This Jackson's Chameleon Unconcernedly Strolls the Streets of Honaka'a: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Driving north, we headed toward Waipi’o Valley with the idea of hiking down to the beach.

Waipi'o Valley, Hamakua Coast, Big Island of Hawaii: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Waipi'o Valley, Hamakua Coast, Big Island of Hawaii: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Loading up the cameras and gear, Frank and I headed down, while Everett explored around the top of the canyon.

Waipi'o Valley Day Hikers: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Waipi'o Valley Day Hikers: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Reaching the floor of the canyon, we explored the beach, the mouth of the river and the waterfalls–Waipi’o is a place of magic, myth and great beauty–it was absolutely lovely to have an unhurried morning to poke around and explore.

Mouth of Waipi'o Stream: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Mouth of Waipi'o Stream: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Waipi'o Stream from the Mouth of Waipi'o Valley: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Waipi'o Stream from the Mouth of Waipi'o Valley: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

After shooting as many pictures as our batteries could stand, we climbed up out of the canyon..it’s only a mile and less than a thousand feet, but it’s a hike that’ll get your full attention! And it’s gorgeous and awe-inspiring the whole way back up…out of breath? Stop and enjoy the view!

The Road in Waipi'o Valley: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

The Road in Waipi'o Valley: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

View Down into Waipio Valley Floor: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

View Down into Waipi'o Valley Floor: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Catching our breath and having a bite of lunch, we continued our Soiree down the Hamakua Coast, next stop–Laupahoehoe Park and Tsunami Memorial.

Overview of Laupahoehoe Park, Hamakua Coast, Big Island: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Overview of Laupahoehoe Park, Hamakua Coast, Big Island: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Explosive Wavespray at Laupahoehoe Park, Hamakua Coast, Big Island of Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Explosive Wavespray at Laupahoehoe Park, Hamakua Coast, Big Island of Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Next, we took a small restroom break at Kolekole Park and wound up exploring the river and canyon there.

Kolekole Stream Near Kolekole Beach: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Kolekole Stream Near Kolekole Beach: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Kolekole Stream leaps heroically off Akaka Falls and flows through one of the most amazing jungle Canyons on the Island of Hawaii.

Kolekole Canyon Road: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Kolekole Canyon Road: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Since we’d seen Kolekole Stream flowing into the sea, we decided to drive through the town of Honomu (fabulous ice cream!) and visit Akaka Falls to see how the park renovations were coming along.

Akaka Falls: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Akaka Falls: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Numerous Small Waterfalls Dot the Fern Grottos Around Akaka Falls: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Numerous Small Waterfalls Dot the Fern Grottos Around Akaka Falls: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Finally, we decided to drive the Pe’epekeo Scenic Drive–an old and very scenic section of the Mamalahoa Highway–before heading home to Kailua Town.

Along the Pepe'ekeo Scenic Drive: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Along the Pepe'ekeo Scenic Drive: Photo by Donald MacGowan

At this point, we decided to hustle home–we just had time to get back to Kailua Town and catch the Taco’s el Pastor special at Habeneros!

Sunset over the Ancient Surfing Temple of Ku'emanu Heiau, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Sunset over the Ancient Surfing Temple of Ku

For more information on exploring Hawaii in general and scenic drives on the Big Island in particular, please visit www.tourguidehawaii.com and www.tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com.