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

There are unusual, peculiar dangers to hiking on the lava plain that might not be obvious to the casual visitor. The steam clouds generated by the lava entering the sea contain fine, glassy particulate material as well as sulfuric and hydrochloric acids in concentration high enough to aggravate the very young and old, expectant mothers and people with respiratory and cardiac conditions. Over the past 20 years, a few adventurous people venturing too close to vents or the sea entries have asphyxiated from toxic gasses. The ocean near the lava entries is superheated and waves lapping on inviting black sand beaches can be scalding hot. Where explosive, the meeting of molten rock and sea can explode large, searing hot rocks hundreds of feet in the air and throw boiling water, splashing everywhere.

Methane explosions occur with no notice, dozens if not a hundred feet ahead of flows, flinging huge blocks hundreds of feet. Unstable benches that build up into the sea, and upon which the unwary hike and pause to photograph the scenery, are prone to collapse carrying all into the sea. Such collapses can cause local tidal waves which scour the landscape clean of everything as they pass. Thin lava crusts can hide lava tubes, caves, hollows and holes into which hikers occasionally fall and are caught.

A volcano is a naturally highly seismically active area and earthquakes are common (there are over 1200 measurable earthquakes a week on the Big Island). Less common, but certainly a constant threat, are local tsunamis generated by these earthquakes. The Park Service has roughly marked the trail to the lava; follow it closely, turning around frequently to acquaint yourself with landmarks for the hike back.

Be sure to take extra film for your camera and remember to wipe down all cameras, eyeglasses, binoculars, optics and electronics after your visit; the salt and volcano effluent-laden atmosphere is highly corrosive. Batteries may be drained faster than expected due to the high heat near the lava.

Despite the inherent dangers of hiking over liquid rock, steaming and unstable ground along the ever-restless sea, very few hikers are injured here, even fewer are killed. This is only because people enter the goddess’s home with a sense of awe and great caution, and the Rangers are very good about instilling fear and trepidation into the hearts of those who think themselves otherwise immune to the mortal dangers presented here. If you go, remain cautious and vigilant, plan for adversity, think ahead and pay attention. The rewards for this are a moving and amazing experience few ever have, a memory of mystery, awe and wonder to treasure always.

If you are planning on viewing the lava at night, be sure to remember that there will be no open gas stations or restaurants when you depart the Park until you reach either Kona or Hilo…plan accordingly, think ahead.

For more information, please visit www.tourguidehawaii.com or www.tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com.

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Reprinted from here.


The Parks of 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 on Kaumana Drive, or the rain-forest and waterfall choked gulches leading to lovely small beaches along the highway north of town, make Hilo one of the most truly achingly lovely spots on earth. The seat of political power in Hawai’i County, Hilo is experiencing a long, painful slide into economic and physical decline. Having long since lost the war of social vigor, the battle for tourists and the struggle for attracting new residents and industry to Hawai’i’s newer, cleaner, harder-working and much sunnier West Side, Hilo seems content to sit back on her laurels as the once-prosperous center of the sugar industry in an era long gone by, haughtily dictating policy and politics to the rest of the island. But even in her dissipation and decay, Hilo is lovely, interesting and intriguing. Like a courtesan in her declining years, who, having squandered her riches and forced to live off the charity of her wealthier relations, Hilo is still presentable, but far more notable for her raucous, and slightly ribald, tales of past glory. From the peacefulness of Hilo’s Arboretum to the lawn-and-tree respite from bustling downtown provided by Kalakaua City Park, Hilo is blessed with an abundance of lovely, restful parks; most of these parks are served by public transportation. Let’s quickly visit a few of my favorites.

Bayfront Park
At one time, a furious surf raked the long black sand beach that once fronted Hilo. From here, Kamehameha launched his war fleet of 1000 canoes on his conquests of the other Hawai’ian Islands. Here, generations of Hawai’ians strolled the coconut tree-lined beach, watching sunrises, spotting dolphin and whale, waiting for the fishing fleet to return from the day’s toil, doing all those things which all people, everywhere, do strolling along a beautiful beach. No doubt they said to each other the same thing today’s residents of Hawai’i say to themselves every day: “Lucky we live Hawai’i!” Today, tamed by the breakwater that protects Hilo from the ravages of the turbulent ocean, there is still a three thousand foot remnant of now grey-sand beach along the Hilo Bayfront Park. Squozen between the bay and the road, this long, narrow park is phenomenally popular with local surfers and fisherman and is the launching spot of outrigger canoe enthusiasts. It is not much for swimming because the water is cloudy and cold and it makes for dismal snorkeling; still, it is a lovely place to watch the sunrise and to stroll with someone special.

Mooheau Park
The large, gazebo-style bandstand and1930’s era bus station mark the center of activity in Mooheau Park in downtown Hilo. Standing on the remains of that portion of bayside Hilo demolished by tsunamis in 1946 and 1960, are the county bus station, a police substation, an information booth and public restrooms. Wide, shady grassy parklands spread between Hilo and the bay here, inviting you to picnic, nap, or just loll in the tropical sun. On this island, public transportation is nowhere near twenty-first-century, developed-world minimum standards, but the island-wide bus service, inconvenient and confusing as its frequently out-of-date posted schedules may be, enjoys one stupendous advantage that should endear it to every traveler weary of Hawai’i’s steep costs: it is absolutely and everywhere free of charge. Just be sure you understand the schedule completely before you board; buses don’t always come back to the city at night, many are parked at the end of their route, so it’s quite possible to get stranded way out in the sticks. If this happens, it will quickly become clear to you why we call such an apparently small place “The Big Island”.

Coconut Island
A small island at the tip of the Waiakea Peninsula, Coconut Island, or Moku Ola–the “island of life” to Hawai’ians, is today the site of a charming park. Accessed by a footbridge from near the entrance to the Queen Lilioukalani Gardens, Coconut Island is a popular fishing and swimming spot with locals. It has a protected swimming hole and children play daring games diving off the remnants of the old wharf, here. When swimming here one should strive to be unconcerned about the fact that Hilo Bay has one of the highest densities of hammerhead sharks in the world. If the sharks aren’t bothering all those scrumptious, bite-sized children splashing about, chances are they’ll give you a break, too. Coconut Island is also home to the Hilo Fourth of July fireworks show as well as various festivities during the Prince Kuhio Day and Merrie Monarch Festival celebrations. Moku Ola was, in times past, a Pu’u Honua, or Place of Refuge, an important place for commoners accused of breaching the law. In pre-contact times, a complex and strict order of law, known as the kapu system, controlled and governed everything in ancient Hawai’i from the order of crop rotation to proper sexual relations, what fish may be caught and in what season, what foods could be eaten by women and proper respect for the royalty. For instance, it was to break kapu for men and women to eat or together or sleep in the same hale, or house. It was kapu for women to eat pork or bananas, or for commoners to look upon the king or to step upon ground he had trod or his shadow. Under the kapu law system, punishment for any transgression was swift and severe: immediate death by stabbing, clubbing, strangulation, drowning or burning. There was no appeal and no recourse; judgment was immediate and final. Unless, that is, the accused could escape to one of the designated Pu’u Honua heiaus, or “places of refuge”. Once there, the accused would undergo a cleansing ceremony by the kahuna and would be absolved of all crimes and allowed to return to his family and previous life, free of onus. Women, children and the infirm also took refuge at the Pu’u Honua in times of war, as did vanquished warriors wishing to submit to the winning chief.

Lilioukalani Gardens
Named for Hawai’i’s last Queen, these 30-acre formal gardens along Hilo Bay have two miles of paths that wind through the streams, over the bridges and along the pagodas and stone lanterns which make a spectacular place to walk and watch the sun come up over the ocean, or the sunset over Hilo Bay and Mauna Kea. These gardens are a very special place and deserve to be thoroughly explored.

Kaumana Cave
A skylight opening to 25-mile long Kaumana Cave is located at the county park near the 4-mile marker on the Hilo side of the Saddle Road. Concrete stairs take you down through the rain forest jungle to the bottom of a collapse pit forming two entrances to the cave. Most people are drawn to the entrance on the right, a large, opening leading to cavernous rooms. In this entrance, graffiti from hundreds of years ago to the present is preserved, scratched into the rocks. The entrance on the left, however, is more interesting, leading through squeezes and low spots to numerous rooms with fascinating speleo-architecture and cave formations. Both caves go to true dark in fewer than 300 feet in either direction. There are more than 2 miles of easily accessible, wild cave to explore here, but if you intend more than just a cursory inspection near the entrances, bring a hard hat, water and at least 3 sources of light. A quick tour of the caves takes fewer than 20 minutes. Parking for the caves is located across the highway from the park; extreme care should be taken when crossing he road. Public restrooms, water and picnic tables are available at the park.

Wailuku River Park/Rainbow Falls
The subject of recent and ancient legend, Rainbow Falls is the lovely emblem of Hilo town. The cave beneath Rainbow Falls is said to have been the home of Hina, mother of the demigod Maui, who brought fire to mankind. It is also said to be the place where Kamehameha buried his father’s bones. 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. Waianuenue in Hawai’ian means “rainbow in waterfall”, and just about every village in Hawai’i large enough to have paved roads, has a “Waianuenue Street”. This particular waterfall was called “Waianuenue” by the ancient Hawai’ians, and remains the reigning queen of its namesake. A remarkable and lovely waterfall, the rainbows within it, which are the emblem of the state of Hawai’i, 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.

Reed’s Bay Park/Kuhio Kalaniana’ole Park
Hugging either side of Reed’s Bay, a small, boat-filled estuary of Hilo Bay alongside the Naniloa Country Club, these two parks really form one beach area. The parks are a popular swimming, picnicking, boat launching and general play spot for Hilo residents. A pavilion, port-a-potties, lots of lawn, picnic tables and landscaped shoreline make this a pleasant place to pass the afternoon. Reed’s Bay Park is approached from Banyan Drive and Kuhio Kalaniana’ole Park is approached from Kalaniana’ole Drive.

Leiiwi Beach Park
A real jewel of a beach park, Leiiwi is a collection of tidepools, tidal ponds, lawns and rocks shaded by great palm trees, African tulips and hala trees. This park is one of the better places to pass a day at the beach in the Hilo area. Picnic tables, pavilions, barbecue pits, water and clean restrooms comprise the infrastructure at this lovely park

Richardson Beach Park
The almost universal experience of visitors to Hawai’i is that, although it is certainly beautiful, delightful and a unique, special place, no matter what pre-conceptions a traveler may bring about Hawai’i, their experience is a bit different to what they expected. Richardson Beach Park, with its towering palms, fresh water pools, delightful surf, secluded and calm tidepools, lawns and general ambiance of tropical paradise, is almost certainly very close to what most visitors expect from Hawai’i-hence it popularity. If you are here on one of the two or three sunny days Hilo will have this year, Richardson Beach Park is perhaps the most lovely, calming and inviting place on the East side of the island. Views of Mauna Kea at sunrise and sunset from this beach are unparalleled. The snorkeling here along the small black sand beach is the best of the Hilo area and the surf is a busy mix of beginner to intermediate level waves. Hawai’i County Division of Aquatics is located at this park; lots of interesting information is available from these friendly, helpful folks. Frequented by dolphins and sea turtles, the near-shore water is a little cold when getting in, due to fresh water springs, but soon warms-up a few dozen yards from shore. The currents and surf can occasionally be tricky here, so heads-up, pay attention to what the lifeguard is advising. Restrooms, showers, water, picnic tables and a lifeguard round-out the amenities of this wonderful place. There is also a Hawai’i County Police Department substation here.

Onekahakaha County Beach Park
Of the long strip of shoreline encompassed by this park, the most popular swimming is on the east side, across Kalanianaole Street from Loko Waka Fishponds. Here, two protected pools beckon swimmers; the one on the right is sandy and perfect for small or uncertain swimmers, the one of the left is rockier and filled with “vana”, or sea urchins. Sea urchins are the spine-covered echinoderms that inhabit the shallower tidepools, bays and lagoons. Snorkeling is fair at Onekahakaha Beach, and locals seem to be able to coax good rides out of the diminutive surf on both boogie and long boards. A word about sea urchins, though: when swimming in any area inhabited by these spiny but beautiful creatures there is no real danger, however, some care must be taken. Stepping on, grabbing, or even handling them can cause painful wounds filled with mild but irritating toxin and the spines may be come embedded, or worse, broken off, in your skin. If you should get stuck by a sea urchin, relief from the burning sensation caused by the toxin can be had by loosely wrapping the wound in a cloth bandage that is soaked occasionally in white vinegar. The vinegar, in addition to neutralizing the toxins, will dissolve the spine. Care should also be taken to disinfect the wound and to keep it clean.

James Kealoha Beach Park
James Kealoha Beach Park is sometimes thought of as the “black sheep of the family jewels” in the Hilo park system. This reputation is somewhat deserved, given the mildly rustic nature of the amenities and its history as a rough and tumble hangout for homeless, drug merchants, prostitutes and other assorted ne’er-do-wells. However, the County recently has put a lot of effort into cleaning out the less desirable elements from this park, and it’s a really, really secluded, empty, wonderful place to come commune with the ocean and the tropical forest. There is no real beach here, just wild coastline and waves, great shore fishing and some decent surfing in the right conditions.

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

About the Author: Popular television personality and award-winning independent filmmaker Dr. Donald B. MacGowan originally pursued a career in academics, earning two B.Sc. degrees, a dual M.Sc., and a PhD.; co-authoring over 5.2 million dollars in grants, and publishing more than 200 refereed journal articles, abstracts, etc. Gaining sanity somewhere in that process, he quit the academic rat race and began to live. Donnie is an accomplished, prolific alpinist, having climbed on 5 of the seven continents, putting up more than 150 first ascents on rock, ice and snow, and a dozen first ski descents. He has written, directed and produced short and feature length films on health, travel, mountaineering and life in a touring rock band. Donnie records and tours relentlessly with his Celtic Punk fusion band “Fatal Loins”–although nobody much seems to care for their music. A Hawaii resident since 2000, he quietly and humbly inhabits Kailua Kona, doing environmental good works, surfing the be-jeezis out of the local waves and frenetically producing somewhat bizarre and mildly disturbing programs for local television which have recently been lauded as: “Ignorant”, “Arrogant” and “Totally Insane”. You may say what you wish about him, Donnie does not care. For somewhere underneath those swaying palm trees, in those warm aloha breezes, he is far too busy praying for good surf to hear you…

Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Akaka Falls on the Hamakua Coast, Big Island: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

The windward side of Hawaii Island is famous for its numerous, beautiful waterfalls. Flying into Hilo on rainy day, one is presented with the incredible vision of an island seeming brimming with waterfalls, spuming off from every declivity and and canyon in the beach cliffs. Many of these waterfalls are inaccessible, or available for view only by paying admission, but three of the loveliest are located in public parks, either within the city limits of Hilo, or with an easy drive from town.


Rainbow Falls

The subject of recent and ancient legend, Rainbow Falls is the lovely emblem of Hilo town. Located in the Wailuku River Park along Rainbow Drive off of Waianuenue Avenue in Hilo Town, Rainbow falls is easily visited by car, public transportation or foot from town.

The cave beneath Rainbow Falls is said to have been the home of Hina, mother of the demigod Maui, who brought fire to mankind. It is also said to be the place where Kamehameha buried his father’s bones.

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.

Waianuenue in Hawai’ian means “rainbow in waterfall”, and just about every village in Hawai’i large enough to have paved roads, has a “Waianuenue Street”. This particular waterfall was called “Waianuenue” by the ancient Hawai’ians, and remains the reigning queen of its namesake. A remarkable and lovely waterfall, the rainbows within it, which are the emblem of the state of Hawai’i, 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.

Boiling Pots and Pe’epe’e Falls
Wild swimming, a jungle of ferns and blossoms, forest solitude and a raging river, all within a few miles of downtown Hilo, Boiling Pots and Pe’epe’e Falls are located in the Wailuku River Park just mauka (uphill, but east in any case) of Rainbow Falls.

Boiling pots is a short section of rapids in the Wailuku River between Pe’epe’e Falls and Rainbow Falls that is popular with locals for swimming, cliff diving and body surfing the rapids. Set in an emerald jungle canyon, the river is an open invitation to cool off for visitors who may be unaccustomed to Hilo’s climate of fierce heat and unrelenting humidity.

If swimming is in your plans, however, be very, very careful; conditions at Boiling Pots are not as benign as they seem and can change instantly with a minor cloudburst miles upstream, that you won’t ever know about until the river fills to flood stage. Follow the dirt path past the “No Swimming” signs down into the canyon for access to the swimming holes. There are also many flat rocks you can lie out on and absorb that wonderful Hawai’i sunshine if the swimming is not inviting.

If sight seeing, and not swimming, is your agenda, content yourself with a walk to the scenic overlook, from which the boiling pots and Pe’epe’e Falls can be seen. In low water conditions, it is possible to hike up-river and over to Pe’epe’e Falls for some guaranteed solitude and fairly untraveled vistas. Otherwise, Pe’epe’e Falls can be found by following roads along the Wailuku River to the last bridge above Boiling Pots; the falls are easily visible from the bridge and the hike is mercifully short and easy-although a haven for mosquitoes.

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 loop trail immediately splits. Going left through fern, ginger, impatiens and bamboo, one reaches Akaka Falls in 5-8 minutes of ambling. If you turn right, the trail loops up and down some hills, through a wonderful jungle of flowers, ferns, heliconia, palms and bamboo to 100 foot tall Kahuna Falls in about 15 minutes of walking; Akaka Falls is then reached by following the same path another 5 minutes and 5-8 minutes after that you are back at the parking lot.

If you are lucky, and approach Akaka Falls on a sunny morning when the sun shines into to grotto, you may be blessed with seeing rainbows in the falls, or waianuenue, the lovely icon of Hawaii.

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; old Hawaii with a modern flair.

Video of Rainbow Falls is available here; video of Akaka Falls is available here.

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

About the Author : Popular television personality and award-winning independent filmmaker Dr. Donald B. MacGowan originally pursued a career in academics, earning two B.Sc. degrees, a dual M.Sc., and a PhD.; co-authoring over 5.2 million dollars in grants, and publishing more than 200 refereed journal articles, abstracts, etc. Gaining sanity somewhere in that process, he quit the academic rat race and began to live. Donnie is an accomplished, prolific alpinist, having climbed on 5 of the seven continents, putting up more than 150 first ascents on rock, ice and snow, and a dozen first ski descents. He has written, directed and produced short and feature length films on health, travel, mountaineering and life in a touring rock band. Donnie records and tours relentlessly with his Celtic Punk fusion band “Fatal Loins”–although nobody much seems to care for their music. A Hawaii resident since 2000, he quietly and humbly inhabits Kailua Kona, doing environmental good works, surfing the be-jeezis out of the local waves and frenetically producing somewhat bizarre and mildly disturbing programs for local television which have recently been lauded as: “Ignorant”, “Arrogant” and “Totally Insane”. You may say what you wish about him, Donnie does not care. For somewhere underneath those swaying palm trees, in those warm aloha breezes, he is far too busy praying for good surf to hear you…

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, Ohia, 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.

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


Beyond the Holei Pali turn out and just past Mile Marker 15, in the southeast side of the road, a good-sized lava tube may be seen in the road cut; there is a parking turnout just past the tube entrance. With care and a bike helmet, the tube can be explored for nearly 30 meters, until breakdown pinches it out. This tube has numerous skylights, so a flashlight is not absolutely necessary, but it is recommended. Unless recent breakdown has now blocked it, with wriggling, skinny or determined people can make it to a small portal with a view into the large fern grotto; this is your turn-around spot. Please do not force your way into the grotto as it will kill the plants and destroy the miniature ecosystem that has grasped a wee toehold here. Besides which, the grotto is populated by numerous wasp nests. A walk to the top of the hill which overlies the tube entrance brings one to the skylights along the cave, and wonderful glimpses down into the fern paradise that grows within. Remember that lava tube skylights are collapse features and do not approach the edges too closely; they are unstable and unsafe.

Video written and produced by Donald B. MacGowan; videography by Frank Burgess and Donald MacGowan; Narrated by Frank Burgess, Original music written and performed by Donnie MacGowan. For more information about traveling the Big Island in general and Island Activities in particular, visit www.tourguidehawaii.com and www.tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com.

From the Holei Pali turnout look back up the pali at the cascading braids of lava that festoon the escarpment. When lava first pours over a steep cliff like this, the increase in speed of flow concomitant with increased flow turbulence, causes the lava to cool rapidly and degas. Thus, the initial flows down the pali are a’a flows. As the lava feeder tube system builds toward and over the cliff, fresher lava insulated in the tube longer, partially buries these initial a’a flows in less viscous pahoehoe. This process is seen clearly on the face of Holei Pali, where lavas that erupted from Mauna Ulu between 1969 and 1974 poured over the cliff. Look at the emerald patches of forest within the intertwined flows. These kipukas are all that is left of the original, dense Naulu tropical forest.

Video written and produced by Donald B. MacGowan; videography by Frank Burgess and Donald MacGowan; Narrated by Frank Burgess, Original music written and performed by Donnie MacGowan. For more information about traveling the Big Island in general and Island Activities in particular, visit www.tourguidehawaii.com and www.tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com.

Kilauea Iki, meaning little Kilauea, is the still seething remnant of a quite recent (1959), spectacular eruption that filled the crater with a molten lake of lava and threw fire fountains as much as 1900 feet in the air. For a sense of scale, the worlds tallest building, the Taipei 101 which is 101 stories tall and 1667 feet high, would be dwarfed by these fire fountains.

Distances across the crater are hard to guess, as steam jets up from small cracks in the now-hardened lava-lakes surface and the minute specks of hikers cross its black expanse, but the crater today is more than a mile long, 3000 feet across and almost 400 feet from the rim to the surface. At its peak, the volcano spewed about two million tons of lava per hour; however, between spurts, much of this liquid drained back into the subterranean plumbing of the caldera, thus giving the distinctive ring-around-the-crater look to Kilauea Iki.

For more information about touring Hawaii in general and the Big Island in particular, visit www.tourguidehawaii.com and www.tourguidehawaii.wordpress.com.

For a third day of driving, it’s time to explore the east side of the Big Island. Hilo is known to be one of the wettest cities in the U.S and tropical rainforest extends from the Puna district, south of Hilo, all the way to the northern tip of the island. Here, Tour Guide will show you the favorite sights and the out-of-the-way places as well.

Super tip: For this leg of your tour you should bring some rain gear. Umbrellas or panchos are the easiest ways to get a little protection. It tends to rain off and on throughout to day on the east side.

Leaving Kona, take Hwy 190 up the mountain for some panoramic views of the Kohala Coast. It’s about a 45 minute drive to Waimea, which is a good place to stop for breakfast or at the grocery store if you haven’t stocked your cooler already. Tour Guide will have all the info on museums, an arboretum as well as shopping and up-country activities in Waimea. Here you’ll also connect to Hwy 19.

Continue on Hwy 19 north and view the scenic rolling pasturelands of the Parker Ranch, one of the largest privately owned ranches in the U.S. About 20 minutes drive brings you to the town of Honoka’a. Turning left, and going through town, you’ll find more great shops, antique stores and restaurants. Nine miles on Hwy 240 brings you to Waipi’o Valley. This is one of the most photographed areas in the state. This 20 mile stretch between Waipi’o and Pololu is often called “Hawaii untouched”, boasting the largest waterfalls in the state, but can only be viewed by air tours or multi-day hikes. Tour Guide will tell you why this area was sacred to the ancient Hawaiians. You can also find out about air tours in Tour Guide’s activities section.

Head back toward Honoka’a Hwy 19 and turn southbound toward Hilo along the Hamakua Coast. This area was once all sugar cane fields but now many diversified agricultural crops are grown here. The first crop you will see is eucalyptus. Acres and acres of this fragrant tree yield sap for medicines and perfumeries all around the world. There is a rainforest preserve, Kalopa Park, just 3 miles upslope from the hwy. It’s tricky to find, but Tour Guide will show you the way to this peaceful cabin camp spot with horseback riding and bird watching.

As you continue driving south, you cross many bridges over gorges and valleys, many of which have viewable waterfalls and rivers that empty into the ocean. Don’t forget to stop and get some pictures this unique scenery. The terrain is lush and green with a huge variety of tropical flowers. Other crops also come into view such as mangoes, papayas, ginger and bananas. Tour Guide will tell you about the trains that used to transport sugar cane to the mills near Hilo and you can stop and see the train museum along the way.

Next up is one of the most famous and beautiful waterfalls in Hawaii, Akaka Falls, a 420 ft. fall, which is just 3 miles off the hwy, but worlds away. The one mile hike on a paved trail through the rainforest will pass two smaller waterfalls as well as orchid, heleconia, plumeria and other tropical plants. Tour Guide will tell the history of this area as well.