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by Donald B. MacGowan

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

Looking across Kealakekua Bay to the Captian Cook Monument, Where Captain James Cook was Killed: Graphic from Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

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

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

Looking Across Kealakekua Bay to the Cook Monument from Manini Beach, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

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

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

Aerial View of the Cook Monument and Kealakekua Bay, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Kelly Kuchman

Tour Guide Hawaii is excited and proud to announce the release of their new GPS/WiFi enabled App for iPhone and iPod that helps you navigate your trip to Hawaii with hours of informative, location-aware video and information. Although our video guide will lead you to dozens of unusual, untamed and unspoiled spots, let’s look at one of Hawaii’s most significant historical and cultural parks, Kealakekua Bay Archeological and Historical State Park, the adjacent village of Napo’opo’o and the Captain Cook Monument.  We will highlight just a bit of the information you might not be able to find from maps and guidebooks that is available on Tour Guide’s iPhone App. You could easily miss a lot of very interesting places, fun things to do and amazing sights if you did not have Tour Guide Hawaii’s new App.

Kealakekua Bay Archeological and Historical District, Captain Cook Monument and Hikiau Heiau

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

View of Kealakekua Bay from Napo'opo'o Road; The White Obelisk at the Captain Cook Monument is Just Visible in the Center Right of the Picture: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

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, hosting the greatest density of hammerhead sharks anywhere in the Pacific Ocean and providing some truly breathtaking snorkeling, Kealakekua Bay is one of the most truly magical spots in the State of Hawai’i.

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

Cook Monument from Napo'opo'oi Beach, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Across the bay from Napo’opo’o stands the solitary white obelisk that marks the lonely Captain Cook Monument rising among the ruins of Ka’awaloa Village. High along the cliff walls can be seen numerous burial caves of the iwi (bones) of Ali’i, and in the late afternoon light, a greyish streak is visible on the northwest wall. Local legend has it that a canon-ball fired by Cook to impress the Hawai’ians left this streak as it smeared and bounced along the cliff. Close in along the beach, historic Hikiau (Moving Current) Heiau stands through the ages, witness to the tsunami of enormous changes that swept through Hawai’i with the coming of Cook and the Europeans, which began right here at Kealakekua Bay.

Perhaps the most sought-after snorkeling area in Hawai’i, visitors frequently kayak from Napo’opo’o to the monument to enjoy the Class Triple-A waters and abundant sea life. However, the monument is also accessible by hiking a trail down from the highway; this hike takes 4-6 hours round trip and drinking water is not available anywhere along the journey.

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

Kealakekua State Historical Park, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Modern Amenities: Kealakekua State Historical Park and Napo’opo’o Beach County Park stand adjacent to Hikiau Heiau and run along a cobble beach that has fabulous snorkeling although few people go in here due mostly to locals wrongly informing them of restrictions involving dolphin encounters. The dolphin restrictions apply to areas farther out in the ocean than most people swim. There are also pavilions, picnic tables and barbecues, available water and public restrooms in the park.

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

Hikiau Heaiu at Kealakekua Bay, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Favored to figure prominently in some of the most important history of Hawai’i, Hikiau (moving currents) Heiau is a large, extremely well preserved luakini heiau along the shores of the ancient surfing beach at Napo’opo’o. On January 28, 1779, Cook presided over the first Christian ritual performed in the Hawai’ian Islands when he read the burial service for crewmember William Whatman at Hikiau Heiau.

North from the heiau is a sacred fresh water pond and site of village ruins behind the sand-and-boulder beach. This beach, once glorious grey sand, has been eroding for years and most of the remaining sand was washed away during Hurricane Iniki in 1992.

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

Snorkelers at Cook Monument use the old pier as an entry spot, Kealakekua Bay, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Snorkeling: Swimming to the monument from Napo’opo’o is recommended only for well-conditioned long-distance swimmers used to crossing mile-long stretches of open ocean; the swim takes about an hour each way. Bear in mind that this bay has the highest population density of hammerhead sharks of anywhere on Earth—not that anyone has ever been known to have been attacked. Snorkeling and scuba diving at the monument is unrivaled anywhere in Hawai’i, but access is hampered by lack of navigable roads nearby. The monument may be reached either by boat from Napo’opo’o or by hiking the trail down from the Highway. Numerous tidepools, vast underwater topography, caves and spires, a several-hundred foot drop-off and an abundance of varied sea life including dolphin, hammerhead sharks, eels and manta rays are the highlights of underwater exploration of this bay.

Kayaking: Many shops along the Kona coast rent kayaks to visitors for the short paddle to the monument, and this is highly recommended over swimming the mile of open ocean. Put in at the old concrete pier in Napo’opo’o and expect to take between 30 and 45 minutes to paddle to the monument. Frequently there are locals on the pier who will help you launch your kayak for tips…these people are local residents with a life-long connection to the bay—they are great sources of advice, information, local humor, stories and aloha…and they deserve their tips. Don’t go out if the swells are large, or if there is a strong offshore wind.

Be sure to return to the pier well before dark, remembering that there is little twilight in tropical regions. Take at least a half gallon of water for each person and food—none of either are available at the monument and paddling is hot, thirsty and hungry work, and you will certainly want to rinse the salt off your body before paddling back to the pier. The rewards of snorkeling the crystalline waters at the monument, the immersion in history and the panoramic views of the cliffs lining the bay are certainly more than worth the effort of paddling across the bay.

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

Dolphin Watchers Prepare to Snorkel at Kealakekua Bay, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

A Word About Dolphin Encounters: Dolphins frequent this bay and you are admonished to keep at least 100 feet from them, although they may approach you more closely. Consider yourself lucky to see them and leave it at that. It is a violation of Federal Law to chase, feed, harass, molest or otherwise annoy dolphins.

Never reach out to touch or feed a dolphin; they are wild animals (this ain’t Flipper!) and will bite. Noting that they are among that class of Cetacea called “Peg-toothed whales”, these bites can be anywhere from a mild nip to life threatening if the dolphin becomes angered.  Always obey the areas closed to boaters and swimmers in the bay, these are “dolphin resting ares” and are important to maintaining the health of the dolphin pods.

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

Kayakers Amidst a Pod of Dolphin in Kealakekua Bay, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Federal Human-Sea Life Interaction Laws:

• Stay at least 50 yards from dolphins, monk seals and sea turtles.

• It is not illegal for an animal to approach you, but it is against the law to approach, chase, surround, touch or swim with dolphins (or other marine mammals) and sea turtles.

• Do not harass, swim with, hunt, capture or kill any marine mammal or turtle.

• Limit observation time to 30 minutes.

• Feeding marine mammals and turtles is prohibited under federal law.

• Report suspected violations to the NOAA Enforcement Hotline at 1-800-853-1964.

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

Panoramic Views of the Kona Coast are Just One Reward For Hiking the Trail to Captain Cook's Monument: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Hiking: Hiking down to the monument from Highway 11is a great deal of fun—great scenery, wonderful trail and involves complete immersion in Hawai’ian pre- and post-contact history and offers the opportunity for some of the finest snorkeling anywhere on the planet. However, the return hike is hot, thirsty and strenuous; but it is also highly rewarding, granting panoramic views all up and down the Kona Coast. The trail leaves the Napo’opo’o Road just 500 feet below where it drops off Highway 11 near a large avocado tree, right across from a group of three coconut trees, right at telephone pole Number 4. The parking spots and trailhead will show signs of obvious use, usually in the form of recently deposited horse apples from the many trail riders frequenting the area.

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

Ka'awaloa Village Cart Road to Cook Monument, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

The first avocado tree is the harbinger of wonderful things to come, as the trail passes through an area rich in guava, mango, papaya and avocado that are free for the gathering. The 2.5-mile hike takes about 2-2 1/2 hours to descend, somewhat more time to come back up. After following a jeep road for about 50 feet, the trail turns left when the jeep road turns right onto private property. Although overgrown by tall grass for the next half mile, the trail runs more or less straight down the left side of a rock wall to the sea. As the pitch straightens out, keep to the left when the trail first forks and proceed to the beach. You will strike shore several hundred feet northwest of the monument—stroll through the remains of Ka’awaloa Village along the beach on your way to pay homage to Europe’s most prolific explorer, James Cook. You will want to bring a change of dry clothes for the hike back and the comments about taking water in the section above apply equally, if not doubly, to hiking to the monument. Simply put, it’s hot, thirsty work to get there and back and climbing back to the highway in wet clothes with salty skin is miserable.

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

The hike along the shoreline to Captain Cook's Monumnet is dangerous and difficult and has several passages that must be swum in dangerous currents and surf, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

It is also possible, but much less safe or pleasant, to hike most of the way to the monument along the shoreline. This hike is an uninteresting exercise in scrambling over boulders along the beach and contains at least two places that have to be swum in dangerously rough water; as such, the safety of this trek is totally at the whim of ocean tides and swells. Highly not recommended.

The hike along the shoreline to Captain Cook's Monumnet is dangerous and difficult and has several passages that must be swum in dangerous currents and surf, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Bart Hunt Rehearses On Camera for a Video About Captain Cook, Captain Cook Monument, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donald B.MacGowan

History: 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 along the shores of Kealakekua Bay where he met his tragic end in February 1779 during his second visit. Forever altered from the moment of Cook’s arrival, the evolution of Hawai’ian society would soon change in ways the Native Hawai’ians could scarcely have imagined just days before the Englishman made shore here

Arriving in his ships Resolution and Discovery at the height of Makahiki, a season of peace, worship, hula, games and feasting, Cook was greeted as the personification of the god Lono, feted as a divine guest and treated with feasts, gifts, respect and awe. A god of plenty and agriculture, Lono’s personal sign was a tapa cloth hung from a crossbeam suspended from a single pole, a profile not too unlike that of the sailing ships Cook arrived with.

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

Hikiau Heiau, Napo'opo'o, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

On January 28, 1779, Cook presided over the first Christian ritual performed in the Hawai’ian Islands when he read the burial service for crewmember William Whatman at Hikiau Heiau. After sailing from Hawai’i to search for the Northwest Passage along the Alaska Coastline shortly thereafter, Cook and his crew had to return to Kealakekua Bay abruptly and unexpectedly to repair a mast. With the celebratory mood of Makahiki over, dismayed about the previous behavior of the sailors and noting that the Englishmen had consumed an inordinate amount of food, Cook and his men were greeted much less warmly upon re-arriving. Tensions ran high and when a group of Hawai’ians stole a rowboat to scavenge the nails. Cook attempted to take Chief Kalanio’pu’u as hostage to insure the boat’s return and to reassert his authority. A scuffle broke out and Cook was killed by the Hawai‘ians in the ensuing melee.

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

The Shallows Where captain James Cook Fell, Kealakekua Bay, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Captain King’s eye-witness account of Cook’s death is as stark and barren as the cliffs that loom above the site: “Four marines were cut-off amongst the rocks in their retreat and fell as sacrifice to the fury of the enemy…Our unfortunate Commander, the last time he was seen distinctly, was standing at the water’s edge, calling for the boats to stop firing and pull in…” In this battle, five Englishmen died and 17 Hawai’ians, five of them chiefs, were killed. Eight more Hawai’ians were killed in a subsequent melee near the heiau.

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

Marker in the Intertidal Zone where Captain James Cook Died, Near the Cook Monument, Kealakekua Bay, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Cook’s body was sacrificed to Ku, the war god, at Puhina O Lono (burning of Lono) Heiau, his flesh baked, bones flensed and body parts distributed to various Ali’i. It is said that, as a mark of honor, Kamehameha received Cook’s hair. Ever the astute politician, Kamehameha returned this grisly trophy to the British sailors soon afterward. It is neither polite nor wise to raise this subject with modern Hawai’ians, but noting that the ancient Hawai’ians were habitual cannibals used to ritually consuming the flesh of their vanquished foes, it is reasonable to assume that Cook’s mortal coil received this treatment. In fact, this cannibalistic honoring of Cook as a worthy foe comes down to us in a Hawai’ian wives’ tale of village children stealing and eating Cook’s baked entrails because they mistook them for those of a dog.

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

Text on Cook Monument Obelisk, Kelalakekua Bay, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Fearing a bloodbath after the initial fracas, Captain Clerke ordered the men of Resolution and Discovery to stand down, and the mortal remains of James Cook that had been returned by the Hawai’ians were buried at sea. Exacting revenge, a few Englishmen snuck ashore on more than one occasion, killing numerous villagers in their anger.

Summing-up the feelings of the crew after Cook’s burial at sea, the ship’s surgeon wrote: “In every situation he stood unrivaled and alone. On him all eyes were turned. He was our leading star which, at its setting, left us in darkness and despair.”

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

Turquoise Waters of Kealakekua Bay: Photo by Donnie MacGowan_edited-1

In 1874 British sailors erected the current white obelisk monument to Captain Cook on a spot quite a bit distant from where he was actually killed. The area remains a piece of British Territory on American soil and is maintained by Brit sailors passing through.

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

The cattle industry in Hawaii began on February 22, 1793, at Kealakekua Bay on the Big Island. British Navigator George Vancouver presented to Kamehameha the Great four cows; in 1804, the first horses in Hawaii landed here. Today, many varieties of cow graze contentedly above the cliffs overlooking Kealakekua Bay: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

In the mid-to-late 1800s to the early 1900s Kealakekua Bay was a busy sugar and cattle port and there was a large wooden hotel at the end of the carriage road near the present site of the monument. The concrete pier at Napo’opo’o is the only physical remnant to remind us of this town’s former prominence. Regular steamer traffic bearing passengers, mail and trade goods made this port quite prominent until increasingly better roads began to be built through Kona and Kailua Bay supplanted Kealakekua Bay as a center of shipping and commerce; Napo’opo’o has slowly shrunken into elegant tropical neglect ever since.

iPhone and iPod Touch Video Tour Guide for Hawaii-fully GPS and WiFi enabled, fully interactive. Hours of interesting and compelling content. Available from iTunes or at www.tourguidehawaii.com.
Busy Day for Kayakers at Napo’opo’o Pier, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

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

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

Locals sell handicrafts on the precincts of once-mighty Hikiau Heiau, Kealakekua Bay, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

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

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

The Captain Cook Monument at Ka'awaloa on Kealakekua Bay, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

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

by Frank Burgess, brought to you by Tour Guide Hawaii

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This post has been expanded and updated, here.

by Donnie MacGowan

It’s springtime on the Big Island which means monsoon season here in Kona.

A Spring Monsoon Cloudburst in Kailua Kona (it dropped 2.6 inches of rain in 72 minutes, then we returned to brilliant blue sky and sun) : Photo by Donnie MacGowan

A Spring Monsoon Cloudburst in Kailua Kona (it dropped 2.6 inches of rain in 72 minutes, then we returned to brilliant blue sky and sun) : Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Remembering that Kona Side of Hawaii is basically arid to semi-arid, “monsoon” simply means that rather than our usual brilliant weather of sapphire skies and tropical sun, we get a few days of grey skies and drizzle and a tropical cloudburst or two–nothing like the folks over on Hilo Side have to contend with.  But during the monsoon when we get a couple sunny days, we like to break out of the office, hit the road and see our favorite places.

Kealakekua Bay and Captain Cook Monument from Napo'opo'o: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Kealakekua Bay and Captain Cook Monument from Napo'opo'o: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

This time, we decided to take a ride down the Kona Coast and into Ka’u. Our first stop was at picturesque Napo’opo’o, where the Kealakekua State Historic Monument, Hikiau Heiau and the Captain Cook Monument are.

The Captain James Cook Monument at Ka'awaloa Village in Kealakekua: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

The Captain James Cook Monument at Ka'awaloa Village in Kealakekua: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

As well as immensely important historically (this is where Cook first met the Hawaiians, as well as the place where he died), dolphin, whales and some of the best snorkeling in the Pacific are here.

Next, we drove along the shoreline, past ancient battlefields, tiny beaches, awesome sea arches and historic churches to the National Historic Monument at Pu’u Honua O Hounaunau, the Place of Refuge.

Sacred Iki nd Hale Keawe at Pu'u Honua O Hounaunau, Big Island: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Sacred Iki and Hale Keawe at Pu'u Honua O Hounaunau, Big Island: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

This ancient site is enormously important historically and culturally and is very sacred to the native Hawaiians. Adjacent to the Monument is Two Step Beach which, like Kealakekua Bay, hosts unbelievably wonderful snorkeling. In addition to the great Ali’i of Hawaii, James Cook, Mark Twain and Robert Louis Stevenson spent time here.

Two Step Beach at Hounaunau Bay--Some of the Best Snorkeling in the Pacific: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Two Step Beach at Hounaunau Bay--Some of the Best Snorkeling in the Pacific: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Driving South through the coffee country of Kona Mauka, we decided to drive down to Ho’okena Beach and do some snorkeling.

Ho'okena Beach In The Morning: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Ho'okena Beach In The Morning: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Recent changes to the beach include more parking, a kayak and snorkel gear rental and snack shop as well as full time caretaker and security…the camping may be a bit more regulated these days, but the beach is much cleaner and safer–it is a joy to visit again after it got so run-down a few years back.

Morning Campers at Ho'okena Beach Park: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Morning Campers at Ho'okena Beach Park: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Driving through Kona macadamia nut country across the old lava flows from Mauna Loa, we decided to check out the town of Miloli’i and hike into Honomalino Beach.

An Idyllic Morning at Miloli'i: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

An Idyllic Morning at Miloli'i: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Miloli’i calls itself the “Last Fishing Village in Hawaii” and is a tight-knit enclave of native Hawaiians. The town is beautiful, if obviously impoverished, and the locals, if treated with respect, are friendly and engaging. Be wary…they can also be a bit frisky, so leave no valuables in your car when you hike out to Honomalino Beach, about 20 minutes south along the spectacular coastline.

A Small House on Honomalino Beach: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

A Small House on Honomalino Beach: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

From Miloli’i, our wanderlust drew us down to South Point–the southern most point in the United States, and a region of deep mystery, spirituality and fascination. Near the Ka Lae Heiau, one of the most sacred in all Polynesia, we found some rare (perhaps modern) kite petroglyphs in the Queen’s Pond.

Kite Petroglyphs at South Point...Are These Modern? : Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Kite Petroglyphs at South Point...Are These Modern? : Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Crossing the tip of South Point, we drove to the Kaulana Boat Ramp and hiked into Mahana Beach–South Point’s famed Green Sand Beach.

Bathers at Mahana Green Sand Beach at South Point, Hawaii: Photo by Donad B. MacGowan

Bathers at Mahana Green Sand Beach at South Point, Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

It’s always a treat to visit and a fascinating experience–beautiful, secluded, mysterious.

Mahana Green Sand Beach in the Afternoon: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Mahana Green Sand Beach in the Afternoon: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

We drove back to the Highway past the Ka Lae Wind Farm, then down through Waiohinu and Na’alehu. Waiohinu is where Mark Twain stayed as he wrote his “Letters From Hawaii”, and the monkey pod tree he sat under is still by the roadside.

Coastline of Ka'u from near Na'alehu, Big Island: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Coastline of Ka'u from near Na'alehu, Big Island: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Finally, we wound up at Punalu’u Black Sand Beach to visit the amazing sea turtles and watch the sunset.

Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle Ambles Off into the Punalu'u Sunset: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle Ambles Off into the Punalu'u Sunset: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Returning to Kailua Kona in the waning light, we arrived back in town just in time for seafood buffet dinner at the King Kamehameha Beach Resort. Could there be a more perfect day?

Kailua Kona in the Evening Light from Kailua Harbour: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Kailua Kona in the Evening Light from Kailua Harbour: Photo by Donald MacGowan

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

Copyright 2009 Donald B. MacGowan.  All photos copyright 2009 Donald B. MacGowan. All rights reserved.