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by Donald B. MacGowan

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

The importance of wearing good sunglasses in Hawaii can not be overstated: Graphic from Photo by Donnie MacGowan

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

More than Everything You Want to Know About Buying Sunglasses For a Trip To Hawaii

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

Laurie Maus safely enjoys a day at Hapuna Beach, Kohala Hawaii, using proper sun protection and proper eyewear: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Fashion statements aside, sunglasses are an important health and safety consideration when traveling to Hawaii, especially if you plan to spend any time on water, on the sand, on snow or when at altitude —where both direct and strong reflected light is present.

Ultraviolet Light and Your Eyes

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

Even in white-out condition, at altitude sunglasses protect against UV radiation that pierces the clouds and can damage your eyes Summit, Kilauea Volcano Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Even if your eyes aren’t bothered by the light, the sun’s UV rays (ultraviolet radiation; wavelength shorter than 400 nanometers and invisible to our eyes) can damage your eyes. For instance, since UV radiation goes right through clouds, even on a moderately cloudy day at the beach in the tropics there may be sufficient UV radiation to cause photokeratitis, or “snow blindness” (actually sunburn of the cornea), pingueculae and permanent retinal damage.  As you go up in altitude (such as visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, driving over Hawaii’s Saddle Road, and certainly driving up to the summit of Mauna Kea), exposure to damaging UV radiation increases dangerously as the atmospheric buffer thins.

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

Sunglasses are a must to protect against the bright sun and glare from water and sand when at the beach Hapuna Beach Kohala Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Ultraviolet radiation is divided up into three bands, UVA, UVB and UVC. UVC rays do not reach earth’s surface so are unimportant here. Although there are contradicting schools of thought on whether UVA radiation is dangerous to eyes, since it passes right through glass, it is best to play it safe and get sunglasses offering 100% UVA protection. Most important is to block UVB which are the most dangerous. UVB doesn’t go through glass, but it does penetrate the synthetic materials many sunglass lenses are made of. A thorough discussion of various international standards for rating protection by sunglasses is presented here.

Remember, it is not enough to simply get dark sunglasses…in fact, dark sunglasses with no, or only 85% or less UV protection are actually worse. As the sunglasses block the light, your pupil opens up and even more damaging UV radiation enters the eye. Therefore, it is best to get sunglasses that are rated at blocking 95-100% of UV radiation. Sunglasses marked “UV 400” are perfect as they block all light up to 400 nanometers wavelength (that is, all UVA and UVB).

Children are especially susceptible to UV damage, and since it is cumulative over a lifetime, they need to have quality sunglasses to protect their young eyes.

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

As the atmosphere gets thinner, it's ability to buffer UV radiation from the sun declines rapidly, so visits to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, saddle Road and Mauna Kea all require good sunglasses. Hikers between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

People with cataracts and macular degeneration are also highly susceptible to UV radiation damage and, indeed, it may exacerbate those conditions. In addition, there are many common photo-sensitizing drugs (antihistamines, antibiotics, chemotherapy, cardiac drugs, etc—even many fragrances) that can cause one to be more susceptible to damage from the sun’s rays. If you are unsure if your prescription falls in this category, talk with your eye-doctor, your pharmacist or physician before traveling.

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

It's temping to read on the beach without sunglasses on, but it's dangerous to your eyes Kua Bay, Kohala Coast Hawaii: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

It might also be a good exercise to visit the AccuWeather site for and compare the average UV radiation where you live with that of where you are going.

One further note on UV protection for people already wearing eye correction. Contact lenses offer some protection but don’t cover whole eye, so more protection is needed. As well, wearers of glasses, depending upon the lens material and whether or not the lenses were specifically treated for UV protection, will get some protection but not enough. Best to play it safe and invest in prescription or wrap-around sunglasses which cover your existing prescription glasses.

Infra Red Radiation and Your Eyes

It has become popular to market infra-red radiation (IR) protection in sunglasses in the past decades. Infra-red rays are invisible to the human eye, consist of relatively long-wavelength radiation with wavelengths from 0.7 to 300 micrometers, and is the electromagnetic radiation which humans experience as “heat”. Many sunglass manufacturers rate their glasses in percentage of IR blocking; some manufacturers produce glasses that block exclusively IR light. Currently it’s unclear if IR poses any permanent threat to the human eye, however, with exposure to intense sunlight over time (such as a day at the beach or altitude) IR can cause you to experience a burning or stinging in your eyes and fatigue if your sunglasses have no IR blocking.

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

Polarizing sunglasses allow you to cut through the haze and reflective glare, allowing you to see what's beneath the water's surface, like this baby hammerhead shark off the Kohala Coast Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Lenses: Polarization, Tinting (Color, Intensity and Gradient) Mirroring and Photochromatic

Polarized lenses and those given an anti-reflective coating both block glare caused by reflection, however, polarization is by far more effective. I highly recommend you invest in polarized sunglasses for travel to Hawaii.

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

These tourists all understand the value of UV protection for their eyes when boating on the tropical seas, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

Tinting color is entirely a matter of taste and preference, however tinting intensity (sometimes expressed as “darkness”) is a matter of the primary use of your sunglasses. The variety of tint colors is confusing and largely a matter of personal taste, however there are a few generalities which may help you decide which tint is best for you. Grey and green tints distort natural colors least; purple is also fairly color neutral. The G-15 Tint is a specific mixture of green and grey tinting that blocks 85% of light and is very popular. Brown, amber and yellow sharpen contrast (for any sports activity or driving in “flat light” conditions) but wildly distort color. Other color tints distort the natural colors a great deal and are largely a matter of vanity.

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

Because of the tropical latitude and extreme altitude, sunglasses are definitely required on any trip up Mauna Kea, even in a white out. Mauna Kea Summit Temple and Astronomical Observatories Photo by Donald B MacGowan

Fashion sunglasses with tint intensities in the range of 10-20% are wholly inadequate for Hawaii’s topical sun. As mentioned above, they will do more harm than good by opening up the pupil allowing more light into your eye, without adequately screening that light. If you are simply going to drive around Hawaii, walk through shops and museums, spend a little pool-side time and perhaps a little beach time, tinting which blocks only 80% of the light is OK. If you are planing a lot of driving, going to altitude, plan to be out on the water more than a few minutes or to spend more than a wee bit of time on the beach, you should get a tint intensity of 90% or above.

Tint intensity is also available in gradients. Single gradient lenses are good for driving and hiking. These lenses are darker at the top than at the bottom, so the sky is screened relatively more than the ground. Double gradient lenses are darkest at the top and at the bottom with a narrow band of lighter tinting in the middle. Favored by boaters and skiers, as they darken both the reflective sea or snow and the sky while leaving the area directly in front of the eye more visible, they are also very good for the beach, for the same reasons.

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

Sunglasses are important health and safety equipment in Hawaii, especially on sand and near water where reflection is intense: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

Mirrored lenses are available in an astounding array of metallic colors (silver, blue, red, green, copper, etc) and patterns (bug’s eye, rainbow, gradient, a variety of flags and sports logos, etc). The color and patterning of the mirroring doesn’t affect your perception of color the way lens tinting does. Mirroring helps to decrease the amount of light entering your eye by reflecting it off the lens surface and aids anonymity.

Photochromatic lenses change lens tint density, color or both with exposure to light. Lenses that only change color, from say, pink in the dark to blue in the daylight, have little or no value as sunglasses. However, lenses that change tint intensity are quite good for use where lighting is going to be highly variable, thus many people choose these for prescription sunglasses. The main problem with photochromatics is that they are generally unavailable in tints of sufficient maximum intensity to block the necessary amount of light in tropical or high altitude conditions. Also, the lenses change intensity somewhat slowly so that in rapidly changing light conditions (think of driving in and out of trees shadowing the road), they cannot keep pace and become a liability instead of an aid.

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

Road glare, particularly along the ocean or at altitude, necessitates good sunglasses; summit of Highway 200, the Saddle Road, between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, Hawaii: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

Lenses:  What Material Is Best?

Lens material for sunglasses come in four basic types: plastic, high index plastic, polycarbonate and glass. Plastic lenses are inexpensive, more lightweight and more shatter resistant than glass. However, they are about 20 to 35 percent thicker than other lenses and require scratch resistance and UV coatings. Cheaper plastic lenses also will distort your vision more, especially at the lens margins.

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

Ultraviolet rays penetrate even heavy cloud and can cause severe damage when you least expect it, especially when at altitude or on the water; Mauna Kea Summit area, Hawaii: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

High index plastic lenses are also lightweight and thin. They give better peripheral optics than polycarbonate lenses. However they are quite reflective and so require anti-reflective coating as well as scratch-resistance coating for durability.

Polycarbonate lenses are the strongest lens material in terms of impact resistant; they are the thinnest of all four lens materials and also the lightest. Polycarbonate also blocks 100% of UV radiation without needing a special coating. However, they require scratch-resistant and anti-reflection coatings, and peripheral vision may be slightly distorted in strong prescriptions.

Finally, glass lenses have exceptional scratch resistance and optical clarity. Glass lenses are, however, at least twice the weight of plastic or polycarbonate lenses, and about 25 to 40 percent thicker. Glass also shatters and chips more easily than other lens materials and requires UV coating to provide any UVB and 100% UVA protection.

All sunglasses sold in the US are required to be impact resistant—note that is “impact resistant”, not “impact proof”. If impact resistance is of special concern to you, you should get polycarbonate lenses, which are the most impact resistant of all.

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

The intense tropical sun in Hawaii, as well as the bright reflection and glare from water and sand, means sunglasses are a must have along the shore Wailoa Beach, Kohala Hawaii: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

Lenses: Quality and Shape

Lens quality, of course, determines how much distortion there is in the view. Even many inexpensive plastic lenses today, however, are of perfectly adequate quality. You can easily test the lens quality by trying the glasses on before you buy them Try looking at a brightly lit and then relatively dim object; is there an increase in distortion as your eye opens up in the dark? How is the clarity of peripheral vision? The best, most accurate lenses are shaped with what is called “6-Point Base Optics” ; this is only available in the high-end sunglasses

Lens shape and frame styles determines how much of the eye is protected, and how much light is able to get to the eye around the side of the glasses. Light coming around the side of the glasses is particularly damaging. Dark lenses in front of the eye open-up the pupil allowing side light (which is unfiltered and un-darkened) to enter the eye. For those wishing the greatest protection, wrap-around sunglasses are the obvious choice. One can also get side-protectors (such as those on mountaineering sunglasses) which are quite effective at blocking out the side light, but hamper peripheral vision.

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

Everett Maynard sporting his sunglasses on the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Remember when buying your sunglasses that expense is no guarantee of quality. Quite expensive fashion sunglasses (or “vanity” glasses) are wholly inadequate to Hawaii’s tropical sun…worse than useless, they are actually dangerous (as discussed above). And, it should be noted that perfectly adequate sunglasses, with great protection and lens quality, can be purchased for under $20, provided the customer is careful to make sure they have the necessary protection and clarity of view.

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

Sunset at Ke'eku Heiau, Keauhou Historic District, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

In Hawaii’s bright light, it’s important to wear your sunglasses, even if you don’t think it’s all that bright out. Exposure to strong sunlight without sunglasses will reduce your night vision by 50% or more by slowing down your eyes’ adjustment to the darkening dusk and highly increasing eye fatigue. That said, you should never wear your sunglasses at night, even to make a fashion statement as this will reduce available light to levels too low to to drive by.

A companion article discussing sunburn and sunscreen is available 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.

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

Tour Guide Hawaii, your friend in paradise. Frank Burgess at Place of Refuge, Honaunau Hawaii: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

At Tour Guide our goal is to insure you have the most fun, most interesting and enjoyable vacation here in Hawaii–that you are provided with all the information you need to decide where to go and what to see, and that you are not burdened with out-dated or incorrect information.

For independent reviews of our product, written by some of our legions of satisfied customers, please check this out.

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

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by Donald B. MacGowan

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

View of Laupahoehoe Park From Above, Hamakua Coast, Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

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

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

The phenomenal power of the ocean at Laupahoehoe Park, Hamakua Coast, Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Laupahoehoe Park

Laupahoehoe, meaning “leaf of lava” is a place of great beauty, of awesome displays of oceanic power and of tragic memories. Laupahoehoe Park stands where 23 children and 4 teachers at the Laupahoehoe School, and an unknown number of residents of the town, were killed in the tsunami of 1 April 1946.

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

The Monument to the Tsunami Victims at Laupahoehoe Park, Hamakua Coast, Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

The children had been sent out by the teachers to gather fish stranded on the beach by the first two giant waves. No one realized the import of the giant waves and the receding ocean until the final, giant wave washed over the peninsula. Only two students and one teacher survived—treading water for 10 hours until an undamaged boat could be found and rescue effected.

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

Laupahoehoe Tsunami Victim's Graves, Laupahoehoe Park, Hamakua Coast, Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

A graveyard for the tsunami victims and the remnants of the old sugar plantation lie just outside the park; inside the park on a small hill overlooking the jetty is a memorial stone inscribed with the names of those who died in the tsunami and the remnant foundation of the school.

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

Looking south along the Hamakua Coast from Laupahoehoe Point, Hamakua Coast: Photo by Donald MacGowan

The pounding of the raw ocean on the jetty reminds one that not every beach in Hawaii is made for swimming. The wildness of the ocean at Laupahoehoe was demonstrated graphically and tragically again in 1985. A barge-load of Toyota automobiles broke free of its tow line and wrecked on the reef at Laupahoehoe. Either not understanding the power of the ocean, or not respecting it, the insurance adjuster demanded to be landed on the wrecked barge deck as he was investigating. When a wave toppled his helicopter, he was drowned.

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

Laupahoehoe Stream at Laupahoehoe Park, Hamakua Coast Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Park facillities include restrooms, campgrounds, picnic facilities with pit barbecues and ball fields.  Laupahoehoe is a fascinating place to spend time, although the pall of tragedy that hangs over Laupahoehoe Gulch; the fishing, however, is fabulous.

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

A modern art offering at Laupahoehoe Beach, Laupahoehoe Park, Hamakua Coast, 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.

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

The snowy summit of Mauna Kea as seen fom Laupahoehoe Park, Hamakua Coast, Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

At Tour Guide our goal is to insure you have the most fun, most interesting and enjoyable vacation here in Hawaii–that you are provided with all the information you need to decide where to go and what to see, and that you are not burdened with out-dated or incorrect information.

For independent reviews of our product, written by some of our legions of satisfied customers, please check this out.

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

Modern Pohaku Iki at Laupahoehoe Park, Hamakua Coast, Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

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

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

Looking North from Laupahoehoe Park, Hamakua Coast Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

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

Photos and Text by Donald MacGowan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Waipi'o Valley Day Hikers: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Waipi'o Valley Day Hikers: Photo by Donald MacGowan

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

Mouth of Waipi'o Stream: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Mouth of Waipi'o Stream: Photo by Donald MacGowan

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

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

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

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

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

View Down into Waipio Valley Floor: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kolekole Stream Near Kolekole Beach: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Kolekole Stream Near Kolekole Beach: Photo by Donald MacGowan

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

Kolekole Canyon Road: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Kolekole Canyon Road: Photo by Donald MacGowan

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

Akaka Falls: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Akaka Falls: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunset over the Ancient Surfing Temple of Ku

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