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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.

Akaka Falls on Kolekole Stream north of Hilo, 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.

Akaka Falls

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.

Just visible from the parking lot, the top of Akaka Falls peaks above the forest, Hamakua Coast, Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

There is a reason that Akaka Falls rates as the most visited tourist sites on the island of Hawai’i.  Simply put, the 424 foot, free falling plunge of clear water down a fern festooned cliff is not just an amazing and beautiful site, but there is a healing restfulness about the park that soaks into the visitor.

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.

Tourists and Hikers explore the tropical jungles around Akaka Falls, Hamakua Coast, Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Leaving the parking lot, the loop trail immediately splits.  Going left through along small streams past numerous small waterfalls, glens of fern, ginger, impatiens and stands of bamboo jungle, 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 rain forest of flowers, ferns, heliconia, palms and bamboo to 100 foot tall Kahuna Falls in about 8 minutes of walking; Akaka Falls is then reached by following the same path another 2-3 minutes and 5-8 minutes after that you are back at the parking lot.

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.

Aerial view of Akaka Falls showing the immense canyon carved by Kolekole Stream, near the Hamamkua Coast, Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

When you first see the immense canyon carved through the rigid basalt by Kolekole Stream at Akaka Falls, you will understand why the Hawai’ian’s named this place as they did. In  Hawai’ian , “Akaka”, means “a rent, split, chink, separation; to crack or split”.  At twice the height of Niagara Falls, Akaka Falls, and the Kolekole Stream canyon, mark a truly remarkable rent in the lower skirts of Mauna Kea.

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.

Akaka Falls Bamboo Jungle, Hamakua Coast, Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Of the many myths surrounding Akaka Falls, the most charming one tells of a stone located here called Pōhaku a Pele that, when struck by a branch of the Ohi’a tree, will call the sky to darken and rain to fall. Even without striking the rock, afternoons here tend to feature the nourishing rains that give life to the surrounding jungle, the streams and waterfalls.  If you came to Hawaii craving chance to wander through a tropical rainforest, this may be the easiest place to quickly immerse yourself in one of Hawaii’s fantastic jungles.

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 trails around Akaka Falls are punctuated by smaller waterfalls, stream and fern grottos, Hamakua Coast, Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Almost every town in Hawai’i has a “Waianuenue street”.  From the Hawai’ian syllables “wai” meaning “fresh water” and “nue” meaning “colorful” or “dancing”, the word “waianuenue” refers to the dancing colors, or rainbow, seen in waterfalls.  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 this lovely Hawai’ian icon, the waianuenue.

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 mouth of Kolekole Gulch where Kolekole Stream pours into the wild Pacific Ocean, Hamakua Coast, Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

After leaving Akaka Falls State Park, Kolekole Stream flows through feral sugarcane fields, pastures and jungle gulches before finally pouring into the raw Pacific Ocean at Kolekole Beach Park.  Definitely worth a visit, Kolekole Park is just off the Belt Highway, a bit north of the 14 mile marker. Turning off the highway surprisingly uphill, at the south end of the large suspension bridge, the Kolekole Beach Park road winds down to the river through a canyon choked with flowers, ferns and koa and palm trees.

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.

Small falls hidden in a bamboo and fern grotto, along the Akaka Falls trail, Hamakua Coast, Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

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. With its true “Old Hawaii” ambiance, it is unlike anywhere you’ve ever been before…guaranteed.  Honomu, in Hawai’ian, means “silent bay” and one senses in this town that it is a quiet bastion of genuine relaxation, a half-forgotten island of healing solitude and welcome comfort.

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.

Kahuna Falls in Akaka Falls State Park, Hamamkua 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.

Fern Grotto at Akaka Falls State 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.

Wild orchids abound in the flower-choked jungles around Akaka Falls State Park, Hamakua Coast, 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

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

Mauna Loa looms over the Ka'u Desert, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

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

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

Warrior Footprints of the Ka'u Desert as photographed in 2006, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

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

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

Frank Burgess hikes the Ka'u Desert Trail: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Tour Guide Hawaii is excited and proud to announce the release of their new GPS/WiFi enabled App for iPhone and iPod that helps you navigate your trip to Hawaii with hours of informative, location-aware video and information. Although our video guide will lead you to dozens of unusual, untamed and unspoiled spots, let’s look at a hike you might have heard about, but might not be able to find from maps and guidebooks and would otherwise miss if you did not have Tour Guide Hawaii’s new App.

Ka’u Desert Trail/ Warrior Footprints, Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

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

The Ka'u Desert Trail as it winds away from the Parking Strip, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Just inside the National Park boundary, where the Hawai’i Belt Road enters Hawaii Volcanoes National Park from the West, is a small parking strip that many visitors, in a hurry to visit more well known attractions, might overlook. You should slow down and pay closer attention, because this small parking lot is the gateway to a host of wonders within the Mars-like landscape of the Ka’u Desert section of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

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

The Ka'u Desert Trail is part of a vast system of intersecting trails within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

From about 4200 feet elevation down to sea level, the Ka’u Desert Trail wanders across this high, barren expanse of basalt and sand dunes formed of volcanic ash. Other trails intersect the Ka’u Desert Trail and travel from the Hawaii Belt Road east to Kilauea Crater as well as west to the intersection with the Ka’aha Trail then down the Hilina Pali to the coast. Seldom in a National Park is such unrelentingly inhospitable, but intensely spectacular, land made so accessible by trail.

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

Unconsolodated ash sifts across the Ka'u Desert, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

There is no water, there is no shade, there is no protection from the elements; the land and climate are as unforgiving as they are alluring. For details about hiking or backpacking in this spectacular, empty portion of the Park, contact the Backcountry Office at the Kilauea Visitors Center (808.985.6000). Do not venture from your car here without carrying water.

Unconsolodated ash sifts across the Ka'u Desert, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Ka'u Desert Footprints are preserved under a small ramada: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

But there is something more about this seeming unearthly spot that inspires people’s imagination and draws them to visit this lonely place. Less than a mile, scarcely a twenty minute walk, from the parking lot are the remains of footprints made by a party of doomed warriors more than 200 years ago.

Ka'u Desert Footprints are preserved under a small ramada: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

The lunar-like surface of basalt and ash of the Ka'u Desert, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Kilauea’s eruptions are generally characterized by the leisurely, almost peaceful outpouring of lava and occasional more than mild earthquakes. However, it is not unknown for Madam Pele to erupt in a blast of fury, spreading ash and tephra for hundreds of miles. As recently as 1790 and again in 1924, such violent, steam-driven eruptions have occurred. These eruptions result from groundwater percolating downward through the earth to near the volcano’s magma chamber. The water becomes super-heated and, surging along existing structural weaknesses, makes new conduits to the surface, finally erupting in a roiling mass of superheated steam, ash, tephra and rocks. This type of eruption, and the ash they produce, are key to the mystery and eeriness of this site.

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

The same footprint as shown above, but photographed in 2010; note that erosion and vandalism have greatly degraded the integrity of the cast: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

The warrior footprints preserved here under a modern ramada are believed to have been formed in 1790. At this time, Kamehameha the Great was solidifying his military and political hold on the Island of Hawai’i, though not all his foes were vanquished. His cousin Keoua organized an army and, while Kamehameha was occupied elsewhere, he seized parts of Ka’u and Puna districts. Keoua sent an army overland to directly challenge Kamehameha…however, camping overnight at the volcano they were caught by the massive, explosive eruption. Fearing he had angered Pele, he organized his army into three columns for a hasty retreat from the falling ash. The first column seems to have emerged unscathed, but the second column went missing. When these warriors and their families were encountered by the third column, come searching for them, they were found dead on the ground, in close groups still clutching each other, overcome by the toxic volcanic fumes. The footprints seen here along Ka’u Desert Trail are from these doomed warriors and their families, made and preserved preserved in the the shifting ash dunes of the Ka’u Desert landscape. It is said that as many as 400 warriors, women and children died here.

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

Ka'u Desert Ohia Lehua Blossom: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

The people of Hawai’i Island accepted Pele’s judgment against the interloping Keoua and, although he continued to fight, he never came close to turning the tide of battle against his cousin, Kamehameha. As an ostensible peace offering to his cousin, Kamehameha invited Keoua to the ceremony sanctifying the newly erected Pu’u Kohola Heiau. However, when Keoua’s canoe approached the temple grounds, he was seized and immediately sacrificed to the War God, Kuka’ilimoku, thus becoming the first human sacrifice at the new luakini heiau and ending a vexing political problem for Kamehameha, all at one time.

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

The Ka'u Desert Trail as it reaches the Warrior Footprints: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

An emergency phone is available here; there are no other services.

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

The Warrior Footprints are preserved under this Ramada in the Ka'u Desert, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Frank Burgess

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

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

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

Ka'u Desert Ohia and Bee, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Coming to my island for a vacation? There are three things I always recommend the first-time visitor do. First, get in the air. Secondly–go to a luau. Finally, I advise people of every age to get in the water and go snorkeling. You will find your mind going back to that experience over and over through the years much more so than many of your other travel experiences. Part I of this series discuses Snorkeling Gear; Part II of this series will discuss Snorkeling Technique and Part IV will cover Snorkeling Safety; Part V of the series will cover snorkel spots on the Big Island.

Photo by Donald MacGowan

Gary Burton and his duaghter snorkel at Hounaunau Bay: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Now, let’s talk a moment about snorkeling etiquette and protecting the reef and the animals who live there.

Please do not feed the fish, it disrupts their natural feeding habits and you may be injured. Reef fish are territorial and do occasionally “nip”. You should not chase, harass or touch them (this includes octopi); the oils on your fingers will injure their skin and fish may carry diseases which they can pass to you on your hands. For photographing reef fish without feeding them, whether snorkeling or scuba diving, simply find their feeding spot (usually a boulder or dead coral head teeming with algae) and wait calmly and silently nearby. They will slowly begin to check you out and if you can remain still long enough, eventually surround you leading to excellent photos and a very memorable experience.

Snorkeling etiquette calls for protecting not only the reef animals, 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 in 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 and put your sunscreen on AFTER you come out of the water.

Called Honu by Hawaii’s natives, the Hawaiian Green Sea turtle is beautiful, serene and seeming wise. Though their species 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.

Photo by Donald MacGowan

Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle at Papakolea Beach: Photo by Donald MacGowan

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.

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”.

Although harder for the snorkeler to approach, but certainly no less in danger of molestation, are the marine mammals: dolphin, seals and whales. In general, it is illegal, dangerous and generally a bad idea to approach marine mammals within 100 yards; 300 yards for females with calves. Dolphins and seals, in particular, may choose to approach you-just remember, this ain’t “Flipper”-these are wild animals and they bite. Hard. If approached, remain calm (absolutely entranced, of course, but calm); do not approach any young animals and do not reach out to them as they may interpret this as aggression on your part and possibly bite. Male seals may exhibit dominant behavior and have been known to *ahem* mount swimmers. Avoid these unpleasantries by observing and enjoying these animals from a distance. About whales…uh, wait a minute…if there is anybody out there crazy enough to swim out into the open ocean and harass a 60,000 pound animal with a mouth twice the size of a king-size bed, nothing I say is going to stop them…just use some common sense, OK? Leave them alone—besides…it’s the law.

And now a word about sharks–two words, actually: “Don’t Worry”. There’s good news and bad news about sharks in Hawaii–first the bad news: if you are in water deeper than your knees, you are probably within 200 yards of a shark. The good news? You will never know it. The truth is that you are not likely to see or encounter a shark…period. Tens of millions of people swim Hawaii every year without seeing so much as a dorsal fin break the water. Don’t worry–you are not what they eat (so you won’t attract them) and generally, they are more afraid of you than you are of them. To dispel visitor’s apprehensions about sharks, the Hawaiian Tourism Bureau used to advertise that tourists were more likely to get hit on the head by a falling coconut than bitten by a shark…but they decided THAT was not a real cheery statistic to crow about, either. In reality, there are only about three shark bites a year in Hawaii—which is amazing considering there are hundreds of thousands of people in the water, all day, every day of the year.

Photograph by Donnie MacGowan

A cloud of raccoon butterfly fish at Kahalu'u Beach: Photograph by Donnie MacGowan

Having said that, bear in mind that all sharks demand respect and there are several things you can do to make yourself generally safer in any shark encounter. Number one safety tip is: avoid them. Sharks are stealth hunters and in any conditions where they are obscured in the water, they will hunt. Therefore–do not go into the water until at least an hour after dawn, be out of the water by about 4 pm; do not enter the water if it is murky; avoid stream mouths; do not go in on dark, cloudy days. Obey beach closures; obey warnings from the Lifeguards. Little sharks don’t get to be big sharks unless they pay strict attention to avoiding whoever is bigger than they are–small sharks generally will glide silently away from you without you ever having known they were there.

Big sharks are different. They may approach you.

The most common conventional wisdom you hear is: if you are being stalked or approached, swim purposefully, not panicked, away from the shark at an angle. Do not swim at high speed straight from him, it will trigger his predator-prey response and he’ll chase you. Do not splash excessively; this sounds like a dying fish (i.e., dinner) to sharks. Remember that the larger sharks eat sea turtles…to a shark hunting below you, your outline paddling on a surfboard or boogie board, looks remarkably like a sea turtle. When you approach the water, seeing three or four sea turtles sunning themselves on the beach is normal; seeing twenty or thirty indicates that something very large and hungry is hunting the water nearby. The presence of dolphin nearby is no guarantee there are not also sharks nearby.

There are hundreds of bits of advice for surviving shark attacks from hundreds of shark experts and attack survivors from all over the world—I will not pass these on to you for two reasons. First and foremost, I am a not a shark expert; secondly, I have never needed any of them because I have followed these sensible rules for years and have never, not once, seen a shark while snorkeling. I’m out there 4 or five days a week, year round. You won’t see one either. Relax and enjoy your snorkeling…as I said…don’t worry.

Finally–many people ask “What’s the etiquette for, um–er–answering nature’s call?” Easy–for wet stuff, just swim a bit away from people and let go, maybe maintaining forward momentum so as not to create a “cloud”. No, this isn’t why the ocean is salty. For solid stuff, get your partner and both of you swim in and get out, visit the rest room. No exceptions for that.

Part I of this series discuses Snorkeling Gear; Part II of this series will discuss Snorkeling Technique and Part III will cover Snorkeling Etiquette; Part IV of the series covers Snorkeling Safety; Part V will cover Big Island Snorkel Spot and Part VI covers Wilderness Snorkeling.

A short video on this topic is available here.

For more information on traveling to Hawaii in general, and beach activities on the Big Island in particular, visit http://.tourguidehawaii.com and http://tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com. Information on the author is here.

All media copyright 2009 by Donald B. MacGowan


Driving south on Hwy 270, just past the town of Hawi, you will see the turn off for Hwy 250 on the mountain side of the road. This hwy will take you over Kohala Mountain to the town of Waimea. This hwy is rated by AAA Travel as one of the top 10 most scenic highways in the U.S. Along the way you will pass through beautiful pasture lands, areas for horseback riding, ranch style dinners, ATV tours and Hummer tours. Tour Guide will give the history of this area as well as activities offered here.

At the other end of Hwy 250 is Waimea. This town is known for the paniolo, the Hawaiian word for cowboy, and the Parker Ranch. At 3500 ft elevation, the cooler climate is perfect for growing all sorts of fruits and vegetables as well as a variety of livestock. There are also some fabulous restaurants featuring some of the best chefs in the world. Tour Guide will tell you about the storied history, museums, tours, shopping and dining. For such a small town there is a lot to do here.

From Waimea, it’s time to head south on Hwy 190 on our way back to Kona. Along the way is Waikoloa Village. This is mostly a residential town but is built around the Waikoloa Village Golf Course. This Robert Trent Jones Jr. designed course has some stunning views from the 2000 ft elevation. Tour Guide will show you where there is a shopping center with grocery, restrooms, restaurants and a gas station.

Super Tip: Finding restrooms on the road can be difficult when you are driving in unfamiliar territory. Tour Guide has a special feature that helps you to find the nearest public restroom anywhere you are on the island. This is super handy when touring with the family.

Along the way back to Kona, you will pass some of the finest beaches and most interesting historical and cultural spots on the Kona-Kohala Coast. Tour Guide can tell you all about these fascinating places, as well as opportunities here for whale watching, wild-life viewing, hiking and sight-seeing.

From Waikoloa Village, continue driving south on Hwy 190, about 30 minutes, until you arrive back in Kona. Tour Guide will give you turn-by-turn directions to your resort to end you’re second day of touring by car.

For more information on touring Hawaii in general and visiting the Big Island in particular, go to tourguidehawaii.com and tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com.

Reprinted from here.

Point Forecast: Kailua Kona HI
19.63°N 155.98°W (Elev. 213 ft)

Mobile Weather Information
Last Update: 6:27 am HST Feb 15, 2009
Forecast Valid: 7am HST Feb 15, 2009-6pm HST Feb 21, 2009
Forecast at a Glance
Today

Isolated Showers Chance for Measurable Precipitation 20%
Isolated
Showers
Hi 81°F
Tonight

Isolated Showers Chance for Measurable Precipitation 20%
Isolated
Showers
Lo 66°F
Presidents’
Day

Isolated Showers Chance for Measurable Precipitation 20%
Isolated
Showers
Hi 80°F
Monday
Night

Isolated Showers Chance for Measurable Precipitation 20%
Isolated
Showers
Lo 64°F
Tuesday

Isolated Showers Chance for Measurable Precipitation 20%
Isolated
Showers
Hi 81°F
Tuesday
Night

Haze
Haze

Lo 66°F

Wednesday

Isolated Showers Chance for Measurable Precipitation 20%
Isolated
Showers
Hi 80°F
Wednesday
Night

Isolated Showers Chance for Measurable Precipitation 20%
Isolated
Showers
Lo 65°F
Thursday

Scattered Showers Chance for Measurable Precipitation 30%
Scattered
Showers
Hi 81°F
Detailed text forecast
Today: Isolated showers after noon. Widespread haze. Partly cloudy, with a high near 81. Light wind becoming west between 10 and 13 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Tonight: Isolated showers after midnight. Widespread haze. Partly cloudy, with a low around 66. East wind around 14 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Presidents’ Day: Isolated showers after noon. Widespread haze. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 80. East wind 10 to 14 mph becoming west. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Monday Night: Isolated showers before midnight. Widespread haze. Partly cloudy, with a low around 64. East wind around 14 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Tuesday: Isolated showers after noon. Widespread haze. Partly cloudy, with a high near 81. East wind 9 to 14 mph becoming west. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Tuesday Night: Widespread haze. Mostly clear, with a low around 66. East wind around 13 mph.

Wednesday: Isolated showers after noon. Widespread haze. Partly cloudy, with a high near 80. East wind between 11 and 13 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Wednesday Night: Isolated showers. Widespread haze. Partly cloudy, with a low around 65. East wind around 11 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Thursday: Scattered showers. Widespread haze. Partly cloudy, with a high near 81. East wind 9 to 11 mph becoming west. Chance of precipitation is 30%.

Thursday Night: Isolated showers. Widespread haze. Partly cloudy, with a low around 66. East wind around 11 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Friday: Scattered showers. Widespread haze. Partly cloudy, with a high near 81. East wind 8 to 11 mph becoming west. Chance of precipitation is 30%.

Friday Night: Isolated showers. Widespread haze. Partly cloudy, with a low around 66. East wind around 8 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Saturday: Scattered showers. Widespread haze. Partly cloudy, with a high near 81. East wind around 8 mph becoming west. Chance of precipitation is 30%.

Tour Guide Hawaii, GPS-guided audiovisual tours...Take Me Along!

Tour Guide Hawaii, GPS-guided audiovisual tours...Take Me Along!

Heralding a new era in travel and guaranteeing to add immense depth and enjoyment to any trip to the Big Island of Hawaii, Tour Guide Hawaii’s unique location-aware, GPS guided audio visual tours are a fabulous way to be your own tour guide! Tour Guide even saves you time and gas and so it saves you money; this allows you to see more of Paradise.

Honestly, this is the most amazing travel product you’ve seen yet…here’s how the magic works: simply turn the unit on and deploy the GPS antenae, then launch the Tour Guide program. That’s it! The Tour Guide unit is loaded with over 600 hundred audio visual presentations about sites all over the island: cultural, historical, recreation, the beaches, the snorkeling, the bird watching–heck, they’ve even loaded in the public restrooms! And the GPS means it always knows where you are on the island, and where you are in relation to all the adventure and discovery, the culture and history, the beaches and the towns. So, as you walk or drive, the three sites nearest to you pop up on the screen–you decide if you want to watch the presentation by simply touching the screen. It’s just that simple!

Want to do a special search of how to see the flowing lava, or find secret snorkeling beaches, or perhaps you are interested in ancient temples, or maybe it’s lunch time and you’re looking for a nearby restaurant…Tour Guide has several handy search modes so you can find exactly what you are looking for by location, by what type of activity you’re interested in or you can just browse through the hundreds of fascinating places to go, sights to see, things to do. When you’ve selected the site you want to visit, the integrated Garmin GPS turn-by-turn software will effortlessly navigate you right to where you want to go–you save time and money…and see more of fabulous Hawaii! You can enjoy hours of informative and interesting commentary on the whole island whether on the road, in the comfort of your hotel, or at the lunch table; plan ahead, explore before you go, be prepared–Tour Guide will give you tips on what to take with you for specific sites and what to expect when you get there.

And did I mention they even have the Public Restrooms? They call it the Big Island for good reason, so this is a VERY handy feature!

Tour Guide Hawaii blends old time Hawaiian storytelling with modern satellite technology and puts the secrets of Hawaii at your fingertips. Enjoy their location-aware, GPS audio-visual tours; they make YOU the guide!

For more information about touring Hawaii in general or visiting the Big Island in particular, go to www.tourguidehawaii.com and tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com.

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.

View my page on Big Island Video Hui
There’s a new project dedicated to videos of and about the Big Island, BIG ISLAND VIDEO HUI!

An on-going project where members can post Big Island videos, blog, and network, Big Island Video Hui is also a remarkable repository of videos and information about the Big Island of Hawaii.

Come, join us, post your videos or simply watch ours…the Big Island Video Hui promises to be an exciting place to learn more and see more about the Big Island, a unique social network for those of us who love the Big Island and an interesting place to post and view video about the Big Island.

Obviously, it’s all about the Big Island…visit Big Island Video Hui now!

Here’s a quickie video about Devil’s Throat in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park…

For more information about visiting Hawaii in general and touring the Big Island in particular, go to www.tourguidehawaii.com and www.lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com.

Along the sea cliffs that surround the Island of Hawai’i, arches and sea stacks are formed where wild waves and tides exploit minute differences in the hardness of various layers of lava flow and airfall material, making strange, gravity-defying natural sculptures. Although common, there are few places where these arches and stacks are easily viewable–one such place is the Holei Sea Arch, which is currently directly seaward of the end of the Chain of Craters Road.

At Holei Sea Arch the cliffs are 80 to 90 feet high, but many waves still spray and wash over them, so use caution when approaching and photographing the arch. Notice along the lower cliffs in the area toward the eruption viewing platform, the several large boulders which have been dropped by giant, angry waves crashing over the sea cliffs. Imagine the power of a wave that would have enough force to deposit a several-ton boulder on a cliff 30 feet about the surface of the ocean.

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

Reprinted from the U.S. Geological Survey, here.

What to worry about in Kilauea volcanic emissions…

Vog.
Vog.

Even with the focus on sulfur dioxide gas (SO2) and vog, inquisitive individuals have asked about other things emitted by Kilauea volcano. Here’s the rest of the story.

First, let’s review why we worry about SO2. Kilauea is currently producing up to 4,000 tonnes/day of SO2, resulting in concentrations in air greater than 5 parts per million (ppm) in downwind communities within 50 km (31 miles). Sustained concentrations greater than 0.3 ppm are considered unhealthy. During its journey through the air, the SO2 reacts with oxygen, sunlight, and water to form vog, a mixture of gas and tiny sulfuric acid aerosol droplets. This aerosol mixture appears as a dense haze that obscures Hawaiian scenery and ocean views. The acidic droplets in vog are small enough that they can be inhaled deep in the lung and can pose health problems. In addition to the effects on living creatures, the acid mist can acidify rain and burn the leaves of plants, including many agricultural crops, such as protea, roses, fruits, and vegetables.

The most abundant constituent of eruptive emissions is water, but that’s nothing to worry about. We can always use more water, and Kilauea adds more than 4,000 gallons per minute in the form of water vapor to the Earth’s water supply. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the second most abundant constituent in Kilauea emissions. Current CO2 emission rates are about 10,000 tonnes/day. We already have CO2 in concentrations of 0.04 percent and more in the air that we breathe, thanks to human-generated emissions. Fortunately, plants photosynthesize some of this to make oxygen. CO2 is heavier than air and can be a problem in low-lying areas immediately downslope of a volcanic vent when its concentrations exceed 5 percent. Worldwide, human activities produce more than 100 times the amount of CO2 emitted by volcanoes. So although Al Gore is worried about CO2 he isn’t blaming volcanoes.

Water, SO2, and CO2 comprise about 99 percent of Kilauea’s emissions. All the other constituents together account for the remaining 1 percent and there are many of them. Hydrogen (H2), Hydrogen Chloride (HCl), Hydrogen Fluoride (HF), and Carbon Monoxide (CO) are the principal minor constituents. Of these, H2 and CO are already in the atmosphere at trace levels.

Hydrogen chloride combines with moisture in the air to acidify rain and burn vegetation. HCl is also produced by a chemical reaction where lava enters the sea.

Gaseous hydrogen fluoride (HF) is emitted at rates of around 0.2 tonnes/day from Kilauea and is therefore generally not a direct problem; however, fluoride is deposited on the leaves of downwind vegetation and is not metabolized by the plants. Animals grazing on the tainted forage can get fluorosis and ultimately die if the fluoride amounts are high enough. Very few studies have been done on the fluoride content in Hawai`i vegetation around Kilauea. Fortunately, no fluorosis symptoms have been reported in Hawaiian grazers recently.

But wait, there’s more. About one tonne/day, combined, of various metals, such as lead, copper, gold, silver, zinc, bismuth, and mercury are emitted by Kilauea. There are many more components present in trace amounts – in fact, it’s probably easier to name elements that are not present in Kilauea emissions than to list all the ones that are.

Taken all together, much of the Earth’s metallic ores, oceans, and atmosphere owe their presence to volcanic emissions. We have many things for which to thank volcanoes; we just don’t want all of them right in our neighborhood airspace.

Hawaiian volcanoes have always emitted these gases and metals in varying amounts. The emissions are currently high, but probably not higher than during the 251 days of the 1967-68 Halema`uma`u eruption or from the lava lake that existed throughout much of the 19th and early 20th centuries. However, the island population has increased, and land uses have changed substantially since these past long-lived summit eruptions. More people and diverse crops are exposed than ever before. Most of the exposed individuals are unaware of this long history.

HVO continues to watch the summit activity closely and to track the rate of emission of sulfur dioxide, the main gas hazard – and public concern.

Activity update

Kilauea Volcano continued to be active at two locations: a vent in Halema`uma`u Crater is erupting elevated amounts of sulfur dioxide gas and very small amounts of ash. The resulting high concentrations of sulfur dioxide in downwind air have closed the south part of Kilauea caldera and produced occasional air quality alerts in more distant areas, such as Pahala, during trade wind cycles and communities adjacent to Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park during kona wind periods. Pu`u `O`o continued to produce sulfur dioxide at even higher rates than the vent in Halema`uma`u Crater. Trade winds tend to pool these emissions along the West Hawai`i coast. Kona winds blow these emissions into communities to the north, such as Mountain View, Volcano and Hilo.

The new gas vent observed last week inside Pu`u `O`o has remained active, with no notable change. Lava from the 2007 Thanksgiving Eve Breakout (TEB) flow, erupting from fissure D of the July 21 eruption, continues to flow through what remains of the Royal Gardens subdivision and across the coastal plain to the ocean within well-established lava tubes. Over the past week, the Waikupanaha ocean entry has remained active, with occasional small explosions and a vigorous plume.

The public should be aware that lava deltas could collapse at any time, potentially generating large explosions in the process. This may be especially true during times of rapidly changing lava supply conditions, as have been seen lately. Do not venture onto the lava deltas. Even the intervening beaches are susceptible to large waves that are suddenly generated during delta collapse; these beaches should be avoided. In addition, the steam plumes rising from the ocean entries are highly acidic and laced with glass particles. Check the County of Hawaii Civil Defense Web site (http://www.lavainfo.us) or call 961-8903 for information on public access to the coastal plain and ocean entry.

Mauna Loa is not erupting. Three earthquakes were located beneath the summit. Continuing extension between locations spanning the summit indicates slow inflation of the volcano.

Two earthquakes beneath Hawai`i Island were reported felt within the past week. A magnitude-1.9 earthquake occurred at 7:23 a.m., H.s.t., on Friday, May 30, 2008, and was located 2 km (1 mile) southwest of Pu`ulena Crater in Puna at a depth of 3 km (2 miles). A magnitude-2.6 earthquake occurred at 6:29 p.m. on Tuesday, June 3, and was located 6 km (4 miles) north of Ka`ena Point at a depth of 8 km (5 miles).

Visit our Web site (http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov) for daily Kilauea eruption updates and nearly real-time Hawai`i earthquake information. Kilauea daily update summaries are also available by phone at (808) 967-8862. Questions can be emailed to askHVO@usgs.gov. skip past bottom navigational bar

For more information about touring Hawaii in general, and the Big Island in particular, visit here and here. To see videos about how to view the lava flows on Kilauea, Big Island go here or here.