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by Donnie MacGowan

When the Aloha of Hawaii first called me, I felt my spirit ache, seeking adventure and the unknown; a hypnotic pull, my soul reaching toward an inner connectedness with the aina, the mysterious, the sacred land of Hawaii. For some, unraveling this enigma promises an experience of the profound.  For me, it was like awakening in a new body, a new universe; like coming home for the first time.

Morning reflections at Hapaiali'i and Ke'eku Heiaus, Kona Coast: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Morning reflections at Hapaiali'i and Ke'eku Heiaus, Kona Coast: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Hawaii is more than tourist brochure visions of paradise…swaying palm trees, radiant beaches, dazzling weather. Exotic hula, sultry nights.  There is a resonance, a deep richness to the experience that many modern visitors miss…the richness experienced by Hawaii’s first inhabitants, seeing the aina as they saw it.

Kahalu'u Beach is Kona's Premiere Snorkeling Spot But Is Also A Fabulous Place To Watch Dolphins, Whales and Sunset: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Kahalu'u Beach is Kona's Premiere Snorkeling Spot But Is Also A Fabulous Place To Watch Dolphins, Whales and Sunset: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

People first came to Hawaii not in modern metal jet planes, giant ocean liners or even in large sailing vessels using compass navigation.  They came in small, hand-made canoes with sails made of tree bark, navigating the vast ocean by the winds and stars and rain; by knowing the currents, the wave patterns and the migrations of the animals; by surviving storm and thirst and hunger.  Making voyages of thousands of miles over the wildest ocean on earth, people first came to Hawaii a thousand years before the birth of Christopher Columbus; they came when the Roman Empire was beginning to crumble…they came on a voyage of over 2000 miles, more than four hundred years before the first vikings would venture out upon the seas.

Ho'okena Beach in South Kona Is a Fabulous Beach Plunked Down in the Middle of Real Old Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Ho'okena Beach in South Kona Is a Fabulous Beach Plunked Down in the Middle of Real Old Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

If you would have the profound, participate in the mysterious, experience the enrichment and connect with the healing, sacred land of Hawaii, you must step in the places those first peoples stepped; learn of the land what they learnt and then, filled with the wonder and humility that they felt, hold in your heart the reverence and offer respect that they did. They, who came by touch and smell, by feel and by knowledge passed from father to son with stories told from mother to daughter; they came to dig and plant in the soil, to fish and explore upon the sea, to live and to love and to fight and to wrestle with all the vagaries of existing at the whim of nature–they came to build a new life in a new land.  This was their experience of Hawaii.  They came with all the energy and intimacy of their way of life and with the all love of knowing their world, their gods, their place.

Littoral Explosions as Lava From Kilauea Volcano Flows into the Sea at Waikupanaha: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Littoral Explosions as Lava From Kilauea Volcano Flows into the Sea at Waikupanaha: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

This is the vision, these are the eyes through which they knew Hawaii. These are the eyes through which their descendants who still live here view their home…people whose culture is so deep and so ancient that they have spoken the same tongue and named their children the same names since long before the time even my ancient Scots family name was first put into writing.

Only when you have seen as they saw, stepped where they stepped, been humbled by Hawai’i’s aloha and malama aina as they were humbled, only then may you say you have known Hawaii.

Hikers Pause at the Stream Along the Beach, near the Mouth of Waipi'o Valley: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Hikers Pause at the Stream Along the Beach, near the Mouth of Waipi'o Valley: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Hawaii is a healing place of spiritual enrichment. It is a big place, not easily seen or known, ever changing as one travels through it. Imagine yourself there, now.  Imagine that it feels like a mother’s love; imagine how it tastes like afternoon sunshine and it smells of hibiscus, the sea and a hint of coffee.

Now, you are visualizing aloha.

Hikers on the summit of Mauna Kea looking toward Mauna Loa: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Hikers on the summit of Mauna Kea looking toward Mauna Loa: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

For more information on touring Hawaii in general and seeing the mysterious Big Island in particular, please also visit www.tourguidehawaii.com and www.tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com. For information about the author, go here.

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Reprinted from here.

Point Forecast: Kailua Kona HI
19.63N -156W (Elev. 0 ft)
Last Update: 6:55 am HST Jul 29, 2008
Forecast Valid: 9am HST Jul 29, 2008-6pm HST Aug 4, 2008
Forecast at a Glance
Today

Isolated Showers Chance for Measurable Precipitation 20%
Isolated
Showers
Hi 84°F
Tonight

Isolated Showers Chance for Measurable Precipitation 20%
Isolated
Showers
Lo 74°F
Wednesday

Isolated Showers Chance for Measurable Precipitation 20%
Isolated
Showers
Hi 85°F
Wednesday
Night

Haze
Haze

Lo 73°F

Thursday

Isolated Showers Chance for Measurable Precipitation 20%
Isolated
Showers
Hi 84°F
Thursday
Night

Haze
Haze

Lo 73°F

Friday

Isolated Showers Chance for Measurable Precipitation 20%
Isolated
Showers
Hi 85°F
Friday
Night

Haze
Haze

Lo 72°F

Saturday

Isolated Showers Chance for Measurable Precipitation 20%
Isolated
Showers
Hi 85°F
Detailed text forecast
Hazardous weather condition(s):

Today: Isolated showers. Widespread haze. Partly cloudy, with a high near 84. West wind around 9 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Tonight: Isolated showers before midnight. Widespread haze. Partly cloudy, with a low around 74. East wind around 8 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Wednesday: Isolated showers after noon. Widespread haze. Partly cloudy, with a high near 85. East wind around 8 mph becoming west. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Wednesday Night: Widespread haze. Partly cloudy, with a low around 73. East wind around 7 mph.

Thursday: Isolated showers after noon. Widespread haze. Partly cloudy, with a high near 84. East wind around 7 mph becoming west. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Thursday Night: Widespread haze. Partly cloudy, with a low around 73. East wind around 6 mph.

Friday: Isolated showers after noon. Widespread haze. Partly cloudy, with a high near 85. East wind around 7 mph becoming west. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Friday Night: Widespread haze. Partly cloudy, with a low around 72. East wind around 6 mph.

Saturday: Isolated showers. Widespread haze. Partly cloudy, with a high near 85. East wind around 7 mph becoming west. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Saturday Night: Widespread haze. Partly cloudy, with a low around 73. East wind around 8 mph.

Sunday: Isolated showers. Widespread haze. Partly cloudy, with a high near 85. East wind around 9 mph becoming west. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Sunday Night: Widespread haze. Partly cloudy, with a low around 73. East wind around 9 mph.

Monday: Isolated showers. Widespread haze. Partly cloudy, with a high near 85. East wind around 9 mph becoming west. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

For more information on traveling to Hawaii in general or touring the Big Island in particular, go to www.tourguidehawaii.com, or here.

Snorkeling Etiquette on Kahalu’u Beach

By Donald MacGowan

Loll in sand and sun under swaying palms, watch humpback whales dance in an exotic Kona sunset, snorkel among rainbow-colored fish on a protected reef or ride surf where the Kings of Hawai’i defined the sport a thousand years ago.

Kahalu’u Beach is the most popular snorkeling beach on the Island of Hawai’i with good reason; protected from the open ocean by a seawall, the reef is also protected against commercial aquarium fishing. The snorkeling is in calm, shallow water; there is an abundance of fish of an enormous variety…perhaps the best display on the island. Dozens of Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles call this bay home, eating the limu and thrilling the snorkelers. Numerous freshwater springs and shallow water bathers make the near-shore snorkeling unpleasantly cloudy, but about 100 feet offshore the water turns crystal clear and the display of coral is nothing short of amazing.

Outside the seawall is an excellent surf break that is for intermediate or better surfers and boogie boarders. There is a fair current north out of the bay and along the coast…swimmers caught in this current should relax and swim with the current, angling towards land.

Adjacent to Kahalu’u Beach is St. Peter’s Church, locally know as “The Little Blue Church”; it is the most photographed church in the State of Hawai’i. The history the St. Peter’s is fascinating and takes longer to tell than a tour of its Spartan interior and dozen pews. Originally built in 1880 on the site of La Aloa (Magic Sands) beach, the church was dismantled and hand carried piece by piece to its current location at Ku’emanu Heiau in 1912. In 1938, Father Benno of St. Michael’s added the belfry and the porch. Twice since it was situated here, St.Peters has been moved off its foundations by tsunami, but due to its small size and sturdy construction, has survived long in a harsh environment.

The Hawai’ian word Kahalu’u can be translated as “the place where people go into the water”; in ancient, as well as modern times, Kahalu’u was a place of recreation, relaxation and restoration. There are numerous sites of historic importance around the park, such as the breakwater, Paokamenehune, which predates the 15th century temple complexes in the area and is widely said to have been built by the menehune (sort of the Hawai’ian equivalent to leprechauns), but building was actually initiated to enclose the bay as a fishpond. Whether the work became beyond the powers of the Ali’i at the time to administrate or the surfing faction won-out in the battle over use of Kahalu’u Bay is not known, but the breakwater was already in disarray at the time of European contact in the 18th century. The springs on the northern edge of the park, at Ku’emanu Heiau, Waikui Punawai, where luakini sacrifices were ritually cleansed and today surfers rinse ocean water off themselves after surfing. Between St. Peters and the northern restroom is the Awa pae Wai O Keawaiki canoe landing which figured prominently in the Maui-Hawaii wars of the 16th Century. The large pond between the northern restrooms and the small pavilion, Wai Kua’a’la loko, was the private bathing pond of Hawai’ian Ali’i in residence at Kahalu’u.

Between the two pavilions is another ancient canoe landing and even into historic times, a halau wa’a, or canoe storage house, was situated here. An important heiau and royal residence, Mokuahi’ole, stood where the large pavilion is today. It was at this site that the great queen and wife of Kamehameha the Great, Ka’ahumanu, and her cousin Kuakini (later Territorial Governor) were raised.

Most days there is a food wagon selling sandwiches, burgers, shave ice and cold drinks at reasonable prices and a vendor renting snorkeling gear and boogie boards.

Since Kahalu’u Beach is where most people go to snorkel, let’s take a moment to talk about reef etiquette and the animals which inhabit the coral reefs. Please do not feed the fish, it disrupts their natural feeding habits and you may be injured. Reef fish do occasionally “nip”, so do not chase, harass or touch them (this includes octopi). The oils on your fingers will injure their skin and they may carry diseases which they can pass to you on your hands.

No discussion of Kahalu’u would be complete without a word about Hawaii’s Green Sea Turtles. Called Honu by Hawaii’s natives, the 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, 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. 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. 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.

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

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

Snorkeling etiquette calls for protecting not only the reef fish, but also the fragile corals growing on the reef. Corals, actually colonies of very small animals, take hundreds of years to form the structures visible today; they feed, shelter and provide habitats for other reef animals. Coral reefs also protect the lagoons and shoreline from waves and sand erosion. Corals are at the very root of Hawai’ian history and culture; the Hawaiian creation chant places the origin of life at the sea, beginning with a coral polyp.

Simply touching corals to see what they feel like can cause the death of an entire colony. Oils from your skin can disturb the delicate mucous membranes which protect the animals from disease. Please don’t walk upon or stand on coral, as this can kill the living coral polyps which, as the builders of the entire reef structure, are the very foundation of the reef ecosystem. Sunscreen washing off your body can kill coral; wear a t-shirt and a swim cap for UV protection.

For more information on visiting Hawaii in general and touring the Big Island in particualar, go to www.tourguidehawaii.com as well as here.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Chain of Craters Road

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is one of the great natural wonders, as well the most studied volcanoes, on earth. Few places can the visitor get as many diverse climates, flora, fauna and geologic dreamlands as inside the park’s boundaries.

Continuing down the Chain of Craters Road, there are numerous turnouts with panoramas that stretch the imagination. Tour Guide adds to the excitement with all the information about what is being seen. Take a quick stop at Alanui Kahiko. The words in Hawaiian mean old road. Here you will see portions of the old Chain of Craters Road, some 12 miles worth above and below this lookout, buried under 300 feet of lava by the 1972 eruptions. This spectacle alone is testament to the awesome destructive powers of Madam Pele, the volcano’s Fire Goddess.

A few miles further down the mountain is the Pu’u Loa Petroglyph field. It can be found along the side of the Ka’u-Puna Trail, a trail used by ancient Hawaiians. This is believed to be the largest petroglyph field in Polynesia, containing more that 15,000 carvings. The path to the petroglyphs is marked from the parking lot by cairns. Tour Guide will show you where to park and explain some of the carving’s meanings at this phenomenal spot.

At about the 19 mile marker is the current End of the Road, the location where the lava cut off the road in 1983. A year ago, you could park here and trek across the barren fields to where the lava was entering the ocean. Now, however, the lava has changed course and is sometimes entering from the Puna side of the park. There is still a ranger’s station here and many placards telling about the flows and safety precautions for hiking in the desolate area. Restrooms are available.

Walking down to the ocean at the End of the Road are some beautiful formations, most notably, the Holei Sea Arch. Tour Guide will tell you how arches and stacks are formed when the waves pound against the sea cliffs and chisel into the various lava densities. The cliff around this arch is some ninety feet, so use caution as you photograph this amazing sight.

Looking back up the mountain gives one the perspective of the destruction, yet the immaculate life giving beauty, of the fire goddess Pele who is in constant battle her sister, the ocean. Each takes life, and gives it. We as humans can stand in awe at the majesty and wonder of these two great forces, respecting each on its own terms.

As you travel back up the Chain of Craters Road, don’t forget to stop at some of the vista points and take photos and videos of the landscape, the memories and the people that are like nowhere else on earth, the Island of Hawaii.

For more information on touring Hawaii in general and the Big Island in particular, go here and here.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Chain of Craters Road

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is one of the great natural wonders, as well the most studied volcanoes, on earth. Few places can the visitor get as many diverse climates, flora, fauna and geologic dreamlands as inside the park’s boundaries.

Continuing down the Chain of Craters Road, there are numerous turnouts with panoramas that stretch the imagination. Tour Guide adds to the excitement with all the information about what is being seen. Take a quick stop at Alanui Kahiko. The words in Hawaiian mean old road. Here you will see portions of the old Chain of Craters Road, some 12 miles worth above and below this lookout, buried under 300 feet of lava by the 1972 eruptions. This spectacle alone is testament to the awesome destructive powers of Madam Pele, the volcano’s Fire Goddess.

A few miles further down the mountain is the Pu’u Loa Petroglyph field. It can be found along the side of the Ka’u-Puna Trail, a trail used by ancient Hawaiians. This is believed to be the largest petroglyph field in Polynesia, containing more that 15,000 carvings. The path to the petroglyphs is marked from the parking lot by cairns. Tour Guide will show you where to park and explain some of the carving’s meanings at this phenomenal spot.

At about the 19 mile marker is the current End of the Road, the location where the lava cut off the road in 1983. A year ago, you could park here and trek across the barren fields to where the lava was entering the ocean. Now, however, the lava has changed course and is sometimes entering from the Puna side of the park. There is still a ranger’s station here and many placards telling about the flows and safety precautions for hiking in the desolate area. Restrooms are available.

Walking down to the ocean at the End of the Road are some beautiful formations, most notably, the Holei Sea Arch. Tour Guide will tell you how arches and stacks are formed when the waves pound against the sea cliffs and chisel into the various lava densities. The cliff around this arch is some ninety feet, so use caution as you photograph this amazing sight.

Looking back up the mountain gives one the perspective of the destruction, yet the immaculate life giving beauty, of the fire goddess Pele who is in constant battle her sister, the ocean. Each takes life, and gives it. We as humans can stand in awe at the majesty and wonder of these two great forces, respecting each on its own terms.

As you travel back up the Chain of Craters Road, don’t forget to stop at some of the vista points and take photos and videos of the landscape, the memories and the people that are like nowhere else on earth, the Island of Hawaii.

For more information on visiting Hawaii in general and touring the Big Island in particular, go here and here. Tour Guide…for Hawaii fun and Big Island Adventure!

This article reprinted from http://www.astroday.net/bishopsky.html

Bishop Museum Sky Map for Hawaii, June 2008

SKY GEOMETRY

The patterns we see in the sky exist only in our imagination. The points of light we group to create the shapes we call constellations are arbitrary and usually don’t have any connection with each other at all except that they happened to line up in someone’s mind at one time. The 88 “official” constellations are recognized by a group of professionals called the International Astronomical Union to help keep order and structure to the science of astronomy. Otherwise, imagine what chaos might reign—how would anyone know how to distinguish one part of the sky from another if names were random? For instance, the constellation Crater the Cup in the southern sky next to Corvus looks remarkably like my Weber grill, but I can’t very well start referring to it as such. As it is, we sometimes “shorten” the constellations anyway. Sagittarius is often referred to as the Teapot, and part of the Big and Little Bears are called the Big and Little Dippers, respectively.

Informal groupings or segments of constellations are called asterisms. They are usually parts of constellations that are more easily recognized, like the Dippers and the Teapot, and at times the references are updated. Some constellations are simply easier to recognize by these nicknames. I have heard the constellation Boötes the Herdsman referred to as a “bowtie” or “ice cream cone”, which most people relate to better.

Sometimes asterisms include groups of stars or constellations, like the Summer Triangle. Known anecdotally as a basic element of celestial navigation, the Summer Triangle is comprised of the three brightest stars in three separate constellations forming a large, distinctly triangular shape in the sky. First to rise in the east is the star Vega in the constellation Lyra the Lyre. Lyra is a small constellation that takes a bit of effort to imagine the harp-shaped instrument from the parallelogram of stars, but it is an area rich in telescopic sights. One is the famous Ring Nebula, M57—a little smoke-ring object that is the remains of a dying star seen at the center of the ring.

Vega is a white star and the fifth brightest star in the sky. Twelve thousand years ago Vega used to be our North Star, but because the Earth slowly “wobbles” (think of a spinning top, except our wobble is 26,000 years long!) the North Pole points toward different stars periodically. Right now, almost halfway through the wobble’s circle, Polaris is our North Star but in another 14,000 years Vega will take that title again.

Almost two hours after Vega rises the second point of the Triangle appears in the east in Cygnus the Swan. Although this constellation can be easily visualized as a bird, it does have an asterism associated with it. Part of the body and wingspan of the Swan is known as the Northern Cross. The star Deneb is the tail feather of the bird and is the brightest star in that constellation. Opposite from Deneb is an interesting star called Alberio. With a low powered telescope or even binoculars what looks like a single star will split into a beautiful sapphire blue and golden pair of stars.

A half hour later, Altair in Aquila the Eagle makes its appearance over the eastern horizon. Altair and Vega represent two figures in Japanese folklore that are celebrated with a national holiday in the country. Altair is the handsome herdsman Hikoboshi (also known as Kengyu) that fell in love with Orihime (Vega), the beautiful fabric-weaver. Their preoccupation with each other began to interfere with their duties, and as a result the gods separated them across a vast river in the sky. You can see that “heavenly river” in the dark sky as the white band of light called the Milky Way.

Fortunately, the story doesn’t end here—the gods heard the unhappy cries of the two lovers and took pity on them. On the seventh day of the seventh month, the two are united for one day as a flock of magpies build a living bridge to bring the two together. Today this occasion is celebrated by a festive holiday called Tanabata in Japan on July 7, although in early times this date was determined by the lunar calendar.

Following the Summer Triangle (and the parallelogram of Lyra) is the big Square of Pegasus. But because it is not included on this month’s map, I will save that “astro-geometry” lesson for another month!

The Planets

Earth:

Summer kicks off, at least astronomically, with the solstice on June 20. At 2:00 P.M. HST the sun crosses from the southern hemisphere into the northern hemisphere, marked by the celestial equator. (The celestial equator is an imaginary line that extends the Earth’s equator into space)

Mercury:

Mercury is passing in front of the sun for most of the month and will reappear in the morning sky during the last week of June. It hangs over the red “bull’s eye” of Taurus in the light of the rising sun.

Venus:

Venus is behind the sun right now, what is referred to as superior conjunction. It will be another month before it will appear back in the evening sky and blaze in the west after the sun sets.

Mars:

Mars quickly moved from Gemini through Cancer last month and will settle in the constellation Leo during June. Saturn has also been a resident of Leo recently and the two planets are heading for a conjunction in July. You can watch the Red Planet edge closer to yellowish Saturn over the month, with Regulus (the brightest star in Leo) in the middle.

The NASA mission to Mars, called Phoenix (see May’s article) will make its descent to Mars on May 25. Unfortunately I cannot update the status of this mission because this article is filed before this date, but I will definitely talk about Phoenix next month.

Jupiter:

The King of Planets rules the night, shining brighter than any other object besides the Moon this month. Jupiter rises by 10:00 P.M. in early June and about two hours earlier by the end of the month. On June 18, the full Moon enters Sagittarius, the same constellation as Jupiter, and the next evening the waning Moon moves just south of the giant planet.

Saturn:
Look for Saturn high in the west at nightfall during the first half of June, then only about halfway up in that direction by the end of the month. The rings of the gas planet is continuing to tip edgewise to our line of sight and well worth watching over the upcoming months. You will need a telescope to really appreciate this sight, however.

Questions? Contact Carolyn Kaichi @ hokupaa@bishopmuseum.org or 847-8203.

For information ad videos about visiting Hawaii in general and touring the Big Island in particular, visit www.tourguidehawaii.com and www.tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com.

Tour Guide GPS-guided tours is the most revolutionary product ever offered the Hawaii visitor, putting the magic of Hawaii at your fingertips…turn-by-turn directions, over 600 video presentations for sites of interest, searchable database–this is one very handy and fun gadget!

Is travel to the Big Island of Hawaii on your horizon? Rent Tour Guide and Hawaii comes alive in the palm of your hand.

Traditional Hawaiian chant written and performed by Frank Burgess.

Tour Guide, where adventure, solitude and independence are our business. For more information, visit www.tourguidehawaii.com or www.tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com.

A thriving Hawai’ian community out here in the middle of the desert? At Honokohau, ancient Hawai’ians took advantage of abundant freshwater springs to site a large community centered around fishing, fishponds and taro fields. The National Historic Park preserves a vast complex of important archeological sites, including heiaus, fishponds, a fishtrap, house sites, burials, a holua (sledding track), a Queen s Bath and abundant petroglyphs. An information center and bookshop is located between the two access roads off the highway and the best place to start any exploration of the National Park. As a beach, Ai’iopio Beach is one of Kona s finest, most protected and fun places to swim. Abundant shade along a long wide beach and a protected reach make this is perfect to take children though the water is a little murky for ideal snorkeling. For more information, visit www.tourguidehawaii.com and www.tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com.

Produced by Donald B. MacGowan.

Narrated by Frank Burgess; Produced by Donnie MacGowan; Brought to you by Tour Guide–Our GPS Tours put Hawaii at your fingertips!

Have you ever seen anywhere as stark, impressive, primitive and ancient, yet still able to raise the hackles on your neck? Here, untold thousands of people were sacrificed to worship a new god, the war god Ku. Mo’okini Heiau stands today at the north end of Hawai’i, the well preserved remains of a terrible luakini heiau built by the powerful Tahitian kahuna Pa’ao in the 11th or 12th century. This heiau was the first temple of human sacrifice in Hawai’i and the first site in Hawai’i to be preserved as a National Historic Landmark under the Historic Sites Act of 1935. Mo’okini Heiau is now part of Lapakahi State Historic Park; as Mo’okini is an active Heiau and visitors are reminded to stay away if religious observances are being celebrated.

Built on the site of a much smaller heiau, Mo’okini Heiau (lit. “many lineages”) is said to have been raised in one night by as many as 15,000-20,000 men passing stones hand to hand from Pololu Valley, 14 miles distant.

Born nearby, Kamehameha the Great was brought to this heiau for his birth rituals.

To reach the enormous but especially well-preserved heiau, drive to near the 20-mile marker and turn onto the road to the Upolu Airport, heading left past the airport at about 2 miles. The unpaved section of the next 1.6 miles of road may require 4WD, but at any rate, one must park at the gate and walk 5 minutes to the heiau. The heiau itself is impressively large, 270 feet long by 140 feet wide by as much as 30 feet high.

This dirt road goes all the way (about 4 miles) to the old Coast Guard Loran Lookout and makes a wonderful beginner’s mountain biking trip, especially considering the amazing historical sites along the way.

During the 11th century, warlike Tahitians arrived in the Hawai’ian Islands, conquering, enslaving, sacrificing and largely displacing the descendants of the original Marquesan settlers. Into this bloody landscape came Pa’ao, the terrible and powerful Tahitian kahuna who was affronted at the lack of respect the Hawai’ian Ali’i commanded and at the apparent weakness of the Hawai’ian gods. He sent back to Tahiti for the warrior chief Pili and together they brought worship of the powerful war god Ku to Hawai’i and strengthened the kapu system of laws and power of the Ali’i.

Worship of Ku demanded human sacrifice, which was performed at luakini heiau throughout the parts of Polynesia where Ku was venerated. Pa’ao caused Mo’okini Heiau to be constructed on the site of a previous, smaller heiau, of stones passed hand over hand from Pololu Valley. During this process, if a stone were dropped it was left where it lay to preserve the rhythm of passing; the scattered line of dropped stones can be followed all the way back to Pololu to this day.

The alter stones were brought by war canoe from Pa’ao’s home heiau of Taputapuatea (lit. sacrifices from abroad), the most powerful and most feared heiau in Polynesia and the center of Ku worship. Boulders for cornerstones brought hundreds of miles across the sea from Taputapuatea were laid with human sacrifices
Beneath and gave this heiau a formidable power and the air of menace and despair that clings to it to the site to this day.

Outside the heiau walls can be found a large phallic rock and a flat stone with a cup-like depression near the top. Here, on this holehole stone, the baked bodies of human sacrifices were stripped of flesh and the bones saved to be rendered into fishhooks and dagger blades. Not much mention of the fate of the human flesh from these sacrifices is made, but it is universally documented that Polynesians everywhere were cannibals. This is a topic that is very difficult for the modern descendants of these people to come to grips with and one which is best simply accepted and not commented or speculated upon.

There is no counting the tens of thousands of Hawai’ians who were made sacrifice here on this stone at barren, terrible Mo’okini over the centuries, but the sacrificial victims were all gathered by a class of kahuna called the Mu, or “body catcher”; the foundation of the dwelling of the Mu can still be found among the ruins of Mo’okini.

There are no services in the vicinity of Mo’okini Heiau, whatsoever.

For more information, visit http://www.tourguidehawaii.com, http://www.lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com or http://www.tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com.

For an interesting day of driving, head north out of Kona on Highway 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.

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 highwy 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.

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 9information 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.