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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.

Charming Pahoa Town Maintains Its Eclectic Mix of Western and neo-Victorian Architecture Graphic, Puna Hawaii: Graphic from 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.

Pahoa Town

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.

Pahoa Shopping District, Puna Hawaii: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

YEEEEEHAW! Wild, untamed and even a bit unruly, Pahoa Town, with it’s false-front, western-style buildings and raised wooden sidewalks, looks more like it belongs in Wyoming than Hawai’i. But Wild West isn’t the only subculture evident here…tie-dye banners and the general “flower-power” ambiance some businesses and citizens lend Pahoa give it a decidedly “’60’s” feel.

The residents of Pahoa tend to be individualists, socially liberal, embracing of alternative culture; there are most certainly a lot more musicians, artists and poets in Puna than accountants, insurance agents and attorneys.

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 muddy footprint may well be the defining image many tourists have of Pahoa, one of the Rainiest Towns in America: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

Pahoa started off as a rough and tumble sawmill town, then became the center of the sugar industry.  A crossroad on the old island railroads, trade and commerce flourished in Pahoa at the turn of the 20th century. An agricultural center today, the papaya, commercial flower and visitor industries drive Pahoa’s economy.

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.

Downtown Pahoa Main Street, Puna Hawaii: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

Downtown Pahoa still shows off her history, with lovely turn-of-the century western and neo-Victorian architecture, false-front stores and wooden sidewalks, but with its own distinctive, Hawaii-style, panache.

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.

Puna Tree Tunnels Just Outside Pahoa Town, Hawaii: Photo by Donald B MacGowgan

Pahoa is the also gateway to the Puna District. Beautiful, mysterious, untraveled and undiscovered by the herds of tourists, Puna District has so far managed to avoid overcrowding. Not on the usual tour bus routes, it’s like a step back to a simpler, less harried time.

It has been said of Pahoa that if it weren’t for counter-cultural influences, it would have no cultural influences at all. This is a bit unfair, but the people of Pahoa are proud of their independent ways and lifestyle. The charm and allure of this way of living is evident when you consider that the region around Pahoa is the fastest growing portion of the island.

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.

Pahoa is an interesting and charming, eclectic mix of Neo-Victorian and Western Architecture, Puna 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.

Pahoa Town Community Bulletin Board, Puna 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.

The Sidewalks of Pahoa, Puna Hawaii: Photo by Donald B MacGowan

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.

Hakalau Bay, Hamakua Coast, HawaiiL Grpahic from 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.

Hakalau Beach Park

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

Hahaklau Gulch Scenic Jungle Road, Hamakua Coast, Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Even amidst the tranquil and idyllic rural landscape of the Big Island, it is possible to feel as if the modern hustle and bustle of life on Hawaii has all but drowned out the tranquility and beauty of the ancient paradise which is the birthright of the Hawaiian people and about which American writers such as Samuel Clemens and Robert Louis Stevenson wrote with such passion.

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.

Hakalau Canyon Mouth and Beach; Stong currents and lethal rip tides make swimming here perilous: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Most definitely the tropical paradise you dreamed about visiting, this thick, lush jungle canyon is a stunning remnant of Old Hawai’i, leading along a rushing stream to a narrow canyon festooned with tropical blossoms, vines and palms to a sandy beach where the surf is nothing short of amazing, as are the views up and down the coast from here..

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.

Hakalau Beach in the morning sun: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

One of the few navigable bays along this portion of the coast, but guarded by the tick jungle and immensely steep gulch, Hakalau inlet and each was a hideout for smugglers and bandits in earlier times.  The Hakalau Sugar Company built an enormous sugar mill and wharf here, which was destroyed by the tsunami of 1946-the twisted and battered remains of these structures are mute, but awe-inspiring, testament to the raw power of tsunamis.

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.

Driving through the Old Hawaii Jungle is just one great reason to visit Hakalau Gulch on the Hamakua Coast of the Big Island: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

To reach the beach, turn off the belt highway just north of mile marker 15 and drive through old sugar fields, past the remnant of the village of Hakalau stay on the road as it narrows and turns to dirt and drive down the gulch.

The Hakalau Gulch Road is rough and definitely not for passenger vehicles.  This road goes through puddles, deep potholes and at least one point, the roadbed and creek bed are the same. Remembering that even 6 inches of rapidly flowing water can carry a car away, drive through the creek only if it is slowly flowing and the water is fewer than 8 inches deep. If the road seems impassable, or the gate is locked, simply park by the gate and walk down—it’s a short and soul-soothing walk.

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.

Twisted and Broken ruins of Hakalau Sugar Mill and Wharf remind visitors of the unimaginable power otsumanis, Hakalau Gulch, Hamakua Coast, Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

The huge bridge over the next gulch north from Hakalau has a fabulous view of two waterfalls.  Pictures of these can be taken from the bridge by parking at a small turnout on the north side and walking back across the bridge…watch carefully for traffic, this is not as safe as it seems.

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.

Beach Sculpture at Hakalau Beach, Hamakua Coast, Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Although locals surf and swim unconcernedly here, the visitor is advised to admire the water, but not go in.  Not only are the waves, currents and rip tides lethally treacherous here, but the stream mouth and murky water are prime hunting grounds of Hawai’i’s own tiger, Mano, the shark.

Once you leave the highway, there are no services along the road or at Hakalau Beach.

Woke up before the morning sun I found it tucked beneath the hills I sat and watched it rise It hit the sky and burst to flames The lotus flower's Got me thinking bout the way we live I've got this feeling It's gonna stop

Hakalau Beach In the Mist, 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.

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.

Woke up before the morning sun I found it tucked beneath the hills I sat and watched it rise It hit the sky and burst to flames The lotus flower's Got me thinking bout the way we live I've got this feeling It's gonna stop

The indispensible iPhone App for Hawaii Visitor's at iTunes and http://www.tourguidehawaii.com


Exploring Mysterious Puna…

For your next day of driving, let’s go south on Highway 11 headed for the Puna District. Leave early and expect to get back just after dark because this area is furthest from Kona and contains some of the most beautiful, yet hidden, wonders on the Big Island. It is from Puna that, currently, the only up-close viewing of flowing lava is possible. You may want to pack a cooler for this day trip.

As you’re passing through Kainaliu, just south of Kona, a quick stop at Kona Joe’s Coffee Plantation, for some great Kona Coffee, will jump start your day. See their ad in the sponsors section in your Tour Guide. If you are driving straight to Puna, plan on about 3½ hrs drive time to get to the first sights in this discussion. If you have missed any sights that you wanted to see on the southern route, refer to Frank’s Travel Hints #1 and #2 and catch them on the way…just don’t forget to allow for extra time.

Along the way you will pass Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. This is a fascinating place and not to be missed, but we will reserve it for a full day later.

The first turn is about 20 minutes past the park entrance at the town of Kea’au. Look for the stop light on the highway and the Highway 130 sign. The Kea’au Shopping Center has some great places to eat, like Paradise Bar and Grill, and is a good restroom break.

The first stop, in the Puna district, is the town of Pahoa. You will think you have just stepped back into the Wild West as Pahoa has a unique atmosphere like nowhere else on the island. Cute shops, and a great farmer’s market on Sundays, lends to picture taking and shopping. Tour Guide will suggest that parking is easiest at the Community Pool just a block from downtown, and there are public restrooms here.

Continue driving further into Puna on Highway 132 through the lovely tree tunnels to a magical stop at Lava Trees State Park. This gorgeous rainforest park is filled with birds and tropical plants and flowers. What makes this park so intriguing is the lava trees. Tour Guide will tell you how old lava flows surrounded the trees, leaving spires of hardened lava, giving it an eerie look. There are trails for hiking and bird watching is spectacular. This is also a good place for a restroom break as it will be a good while before the next restrooms are available. Highway 132 leads you to Highway 137, the Kapoho-Kalapana Road–the only road in America that is named for two towns buried by a volcano.

Turning toward Kapoho on Highway 137, the next stop is the Kapoho Tide Pools where you can experience great shoreline shell collecting and fantastic snorkeling amongst vibrant corals and tropical fish in protected tidepools. Though hard to find on your own, Tour Guide again knows the way to this secluded sanctuary and ancient village. Port-a-potties and showers are the only facilities here.

Just a few miles down Highway 137 is Ahalanui Hot Pond. This tropical park is centered around a hot spring that mixes with ocean water to create one of the most relaxing and soul recharging oases anywhere. Tour Guide gives you the history of what this area meant to the ancient Hawaiians. Picnicking, hiking, swimming and “expert only” surfing are some of the things to do here. There are restrooms, showers and water available also.

As you continue along the coast road, you will next encounter McKenzie State Park. Here the Ironwood trees create an unusual ambience of a pine tree forest. The sheer cliffs and majesty of the ocean beg for photographing. Swimming would be near impossible here, but the hiking is spectacular. Tour Guide will give more information about this other- worldly park. A permit is required for camping and the facilities are a bit run down.

Not far away is Kahena Beach. This beautiful black sand beach involves a bit of a scamper to get down the cliff, but is well worth the effort. Tour Guide will give you the easiest path to take. You may notice that this beach is “clothing optional”, thus it’s popularity. Swimming here is good, but currents can be strong if you get too far from shore.

Highway 137 used to become the Chain of Craters Road in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, but it has been cut by several miles of intervening lava flows. Today, it ultimately ends at Highway 130, the road back to Kea’au and the Hawaii Belt Highway. At the intersections of Highways 137 and 130 are the remnants of the town of Kalapana, buried in the 1960 eruption of Kilauea. Tour Guide will tell you all about the eruption, the heroic recovery efforts, and lead you on a brief hike to Kaimu Black Sand Beach, the newest beach on the Island of Hawaii. From the end of the road you can frequently see the both the eruption cloud over Pu’u O’o Vent and the steam plume where lava is entering the ocean, both several miles distant. At night, the glow from streams of lava pouring down the pali can sometimes be seen from here. Although hiking to the lava can be an experience to cherish, it is dangerous and hard work. The best, and most consistent, viewing is by taking an air tour, such as Big Island Air or Paradise Helicopter Tours.

Heading back from Kalapana, you will want to take Highway 130 toward Pahoa and Kea’au, you pass the famous “Painted Church”. Tour Guide can tell you the history of this fascinating place. Just a little farther north is the intersection of Highway 130 with the road to Royal Gardens Estates, which currently leads to the Hawaii County-maintained lava viewing area. Call the Lava Hotline at 808.961.8093 for current eruption updates, lava viewing information and times of road openings and closures. As you continue towards Kea’au you will pass the Steam Rooms–a field of steam vents in small craters where locals go to take steam baths. Tour Guide has information on finding these craters and how to safely enjoy the wonders of natural, volcanic steam baths.

Upon returning to the Hawaii Belt Highway at Kea’au, one can proceed in either direction back to Kona, north through Hilo, a bit shorter and faster, or west through Hawaii Volcanoes National Park which, though longer, is much more scenic. If time permits, you may want to stop in Volcano Village, just off the highway, for some food, gasoline, shopping or maybe even some wine tasting. This may be the last gasoline available until you get back to Kona as it is many times hard to find an open gas station in the rural part of Hawaii Island after dark. Find your hotel in your Tour Guide and get turn-by-turn directions right to the door.