Hawaii Island is the largest
island in the Hawaiian Chain, having more land mass that all of the
other islands put together. The Island also has 10 out of 13 world climates
and was the favorite island of relaxation for King Kamehameha. As
the youngest of the Islands the ocean is the clearest as found anywhere
with many fine beaches on the Kona side of the island. Hawaii Island
is the least populated of all the islands and still very provincial
in many ways. Much to see and do, lots of Historical sites and places
to explore and go back in time. Excellent B&B network of inspected
The Big Island, The Volcano Island, The Orchid Island
The Big Island of Hawaii Swim, snorkel, sunbathe, snow ski, parasail, hike, kayak, paddle a Hawaiian canoe, watch whales, surf, go boogie boarding, scuba diving, fine dining, sail, go big game fishing, hunting, bird watching, take pictures, go in a submarine to see coral reefs, visit historical Hawaiian sites, take bus tours, boat tours, helicopter tours, hiking tours, sailboat tours, and mountain bike tours, go to a luau, learn how to hula and weave lauhala, ski, mountain climb, get a tan and relax on some of the finest beaches in the world, even find a piece of sand on which to be alone. Also the land of volcanoes, lava, geothermal vents, Hawaiian rainforest, black sand, white sand, and green sand beaches, whales and dolphins, incredible tropical fish, rainbows, snow, rushing rivers, majestic towering waterfalls, Hawaiian heiaus (temples), Hawaiian historical sites, huge ancient lava flows (and some more recent in the 18 & 1900's), geckos, beautiful sunrises and sunsets, hula dancing, deserts, mountains, jungles, tropical downpours, and a gentle aloha experience of Old Hawai'i can still found by those who take the road less traveled.
In most places in the world people run when volcanoes erupt, but in Hawaii they run to go see the spectacle. Local charters vie to be the first to offer flybys as Kilauea Caldera spews fountains of luminous lava against the night sky. Unlike Mount St. Helens, the Big Island's volcanoes are not considered to be the explosive type, at least no one thinks so. And so the red satin lava wells from the earth below and make Hawaii just a little bit bigger each year.
The island of Hawaii has been the starting point for much of the islands' human history. Hawaii Island was possibly the first to be reached by the Polynesian settlers who came as early as A.D. 500. The northern region of Kohala was the birthplace of Kamehameha the Great; and in 1792, he launched his war canoes from the Kona coast to begin the brutal conquest of all the other islands. Kamehameha ruled and died at Kailua-Kona on May 8, 1819.
Christian missionaries were invited to the kingdom and arrived April 20, 1820. And by the 1960's, astronauts were in training for lunar missions on the moonscape lava fields of Mauna Loa. Now astronomers stationed atop Mauna Kea scan the skies with powerful optical and infrared telescopes. Hawaii is known for very clean air and high ultraviolet, so watch out for sunburn, 30+ sun screen and 20 minutes to a side is a max for the first day for light skin. Tourism, agriculture and the military training base in the center of the island are the staples of the Hawaii economy. Pineapple, coffee, orchids, Hawaiian flowers oranges, papayas, avocados and macadamia nuts are grown on the Big Island. The nation's only commercial coffee farms are located in the Kona region. Kona coffee is noted for its mellow and rich gourmet flavor. Hawaii Island is the home for Parker Ranch covering nearly 250,000 acres, one of the largest corporately owned cattle ranches in the United States.
The mountains of Hualalai (8,271 ft.) And Mauna Loa (13,680 ft.) oversee the western leeward coast, often above the cloud banks. Offshore, whales frequent the waters all year, while tropical fish, turtles, moray eels, manta rays, and spinner dolphin find their dinner over beautiful coral beds. Rainfall on the Kona Coast ranges from 20" to 60" a year and temperatures average a very moderate 80 degrees. Hawaiians say, "Don't like the weather? drive 30 minutes.
Ke ahole-Kona International Airport
When you land at the new Ke ahole (KOA) Kona International Airport. The first impression of the Big Island of Hawaii is almost always, "I am on the moon". The large lava fields of the 1800's were used for building the new Kona International Airport as the little one closer to Kailua-Kona was too short and had no future as an international airport. Today the old airport is a park and a nice place to play tennis, have a picnic or get some sun & sand. The newly enlarged Ke-ahole Kona International Airport (KOA) is fast becoming a final destination point for the wise visitor to Hawaii. Due to the new runway extensions, 747's are flying directly into Kona from many countries around the world including United from the US. The airport just 8 miles north of the lush tropical village of Kailua-Kona and takes only 15 minutes on Hwy. #19 to reach the village.
Travel Tips and Links... Getting There: Most visitors either fly into Ke-ahole International Airport on Hawaiian Air or Aloha. It is common to rent a car at the airport because it's the easiest way to get around. Taxi's and shuttles are also available but much more expensive and very limiting.
Heading south from the airport, note the Natural Energy Lab (an experimental station which supports aquaculture products such as spirolina and produces a small amount of electricity from deep cold waters). Next is Honokahau Harbor (where most charter boats depart from is search of the big game fish. At the harbor, The Harbor House, at the Gentry Marina, is an excellent down home place to stop for a fresh fish lunch or dinner, home fries, full meals and a really cold beer. Also enjoy feeding a few birds and watching the boats in the harbor. Comfortable place to kick back and unwind with reasonable prices.
The Royal playground of the Hawaiian Kings of Old Hawai'i.
Kailua-Kona overflows with Hawaiian history. In 1812 King Kamehameha resided at Kamakahonu (Kailua-Kona) until his death on May 8, 1819 on Kailua Bay. The missionaries first landed in Hawaii at Kailua-Kona on April 20 1820 nearly a year after the Kapu system had been destroyed by the Hawaiian People. The first church, Mokuaikaua was dedicated in 1837 and is one of the most beautiful wood/stone structures anywhere. In 1838 Governor Kuakini built Hulihe'e Palace. The Daughters of Hawaii have restored the structure and made it into a public exhibiting hall of Hawaiian artifacts. The lawn is a beautiful place to have a picnic right next to the bay. The little village has been locked in time by the County Fathers and with the pier and bay is a wonderful sunset experience. The Sunny Kona Coast has lots of beautiful places to go, great beaches and many activities: Game Fishing, the best in the world, Guide Hunting for wild boar, Skiing Mauna Kea, submarine excursion, para- sailing, jet skis, sailing and on and on. Kahalu'u is one of the finest protected snorkeling beaches anywhere.
Kailua is the hub for many Kona Coast activities: a submarine excursion or sunset dinner cruise, para- sailing and wind surfing, fishing or whale watching, and so on. Follow Alii Drive to nearby Keauhou to visit Kahalu'u Beach, one of the best protected snorkeling and scuba beaches, among many that stretch along the rocky but gentle coast. The Kona Coast hosts the International Billfish tournament in August, the International outrigger canoe races in September, and the Ironman Triathlon and Kona Coffee Festival in October each year. KailuaKona hosts the Ironman Triathlon in October each year, the Kona Coffee Festival begins at the end of October. The rainfall in Kailua-Kona is a very moderate 30 inches per year. You should allow at least 4 days to make a quick overview of the Big Island. To have time to relax and go home renewed you should allow at least a week for the Big Island, As you drive through the Village you will find a nice sandy beach just to the north of the pier that is very protected. To the south side of the Kailua Pier you will find activity boats and children playing in the surf and sand. In the center of the Village you will find the county parking lot. If you walk west you will find Alii Drive, the main street of Kailua-Kona with many really nice places to eat. Also look for the Hawaii Visitors Convention Bureau (808-329-6748) below and behind Pancho & Lefty's Mexican Restaurant, (2 for 1 on Tuesdays). HVCB is good place for maps and general information on the Big Island.
Hale Maluhia Country Inn, "house of peace", only 3 miles from Kailua-Kona, providing hospitality, seclusion and comfort for visitors for a time of sightseeing in the Kona Coast and the Holualoa Village areas.
Holualoa, A touch of old Hawai'i
On the way up to Holualoa at the 940' elevation, 1.5 miles above highway #11, when the first papaya trees come into view, you will find a very special, Plantation style Inn, called: Hale Maluhia Country Inn (house of peace) Kona. Hale Maluhia Country Inn is centrally located and very close in to all of the good things to do in Kona.
Just 3 miles mauka (uphill) of Hwy. #11, Hualalai Rd., will take you to upcountry Kona Coffee land and the quaint, artists' community of Holualoa, just 10 minutes away from the Kailua-Kona coast.
Where scenic Mamalahoa Hwy. 180, intersects Hualalai you will find Mrs. Kimura's Lauhala Shop. On display there is a large selection of woven lauhala pandanus hat and purses. The shop was started in 1915 as a general store and during the depression became a grocery store. Now Mrs. Kimura, in her 80's, talks to folks about the old days. You can find her there creating hat linings, weaving lauhala, beautiful feather hat bands and other crafts.
If you take a left turn at the junction, you will see several quaint, historical looking shops nestled along the roadside at about the 1,400 ft. elevation on the side of Hualalai Mountain. The old coffee town is still the Kona center of the coffee and macadamia farming from the 1930's up through today. It is also home to some of the most colorful and talented artists that you would want to find anywhere. Friendly and inviting, old store fronts are host to some of the most sophisticated art found in the state of Hawaii.
Artists Hiroki & Setsuko Morinoue, own Studio 7 Gallery where paintings, sculpture, and pottery are exhibited. Their studio lies on the foundations of an old pool hall and laundry built and run by Hiroki's parents half a century ago. Hiroki, whose art has received much acclaim, was mentored by Bob & Carol Rogers who founded the Kona Arts Center in an abandoned coffee mill in the 1960's. The Rogers are no longer with us but their legacy is continued in the renaissance establishment. The workshops offer painting and crafts classes during the week where potluck lunches are shared by those that have come to do arts and crafts and talk story.
Another Big Island resident to receive his beginning lessons in art at the Kona Arts Center is Wilfred Yamasawa, today a well known and highly regarded, blown-glass artist. He works in his home studio, and is available by appointment when he's not picking coffee on his farm.
Across the street from the Kona Arts Center is Holualoa Chapel, a replica of a little New England Church built around the turn of the century. Services are being held for the faithful each week in the form of the early Hawaiian Congregational Churches on Sundays at 8 and 10 AM, but it is good to call if interested in attending. 808-322-3202 or e-mail email@example.com.
One of the finest galleries in town is the Holualoa Gallery, owned by artists Matthew & Mary Lovein. They feature original paintings, Raku ceramic sculptures, and collaborative large scale ceramic art vessels. In addition to the Loveins' work, there is a select group of fine art and master crafts. The Gallery is open: Tues.-Sat., 10 - 5 p.m. Phone:(808) 322-8484 http://www.lovein.com .
Colors of Hawaii is owned by oil painter, Darrell Hill and his wife, watercolor artist, Pat Hill. Previously the gallery was called Country Frame Shop & Gallery.
Hale O Kula Gallery features the work of goldsmith artist and sculptor, Sam Rosen. There are other works of art to be found in his establishment, which was once the post office.
There is an antique and gift shop called Cinderella's, where you never know what treasure you may find.
Ululani Gallery features the original work and prints of artist Herb Kane, who is known as living treasure for his historical Hawaiiana paintings.
Within strolling distance is the U.S. Post Office, where you will find
a short line and friendly service that is not only efficient for all postal
needs but a place of aloha where you can enjoy the artistic neighbors from
around the village.
Another place of interest is Dahlia's Flower Shop is filled with exotic flowers, and direct shipping is available.
Holualoa Cafe, offers an old country charm expresso bar and pastries. They have a homestyle lunch menu as well. Local people and visitors gather there to chat in the garden atmosphere. And just a little further up the road you will find Ferrari's little coffee store for pure Kona Coffee.
For groceries, visit Paul's Place. His store history goes back quite a ways, you will not find a friendlier place anywhere. Everything you need is there, somewhere. Down the street is even a little delightful public library where children often gather for story time after school.
The first hotel in Kona is still in operation in Holualoa, the Inaba's "Kona Hotel" and is painted a bright pink. For those who want a sample of days gone by in today's world, the modest rooms are still somewhere around $30 a night. However, you may be able to hear the neighbors snoring.
A diverse mixture of contemporary art, culture, rich with history, Holualoa is definitely, a not too far, off the beaten path, place that you will want to experience. Plan to spend a couple of hours whenever you can to see what's new and what you might find and who you might see.
Kahalu'u Beach Park. Want to swim with and feed the fish and see the big sea turtles in a very safe place? Kahalu'u Beach Park is the place on Alii Drive. Going south on Alii drive from the Kailua-Kona Village in about 4 miles you will find the disappearing Magic Sands beach, great for surf play (when the sand is in). But a little further south you will run into Kahalu'u Beach Park. With some bread scraps from Hale Maluhia and an underwater $10 camera from Wall-Mart (great pictures) fins, mask and snorkle you can have a great day of real Hawaiian exploring in the beautifully clear and warm water world of Kailua-Kona for very little in the way of coconuts.
Next on our list is a Visit to the Amy B. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden or the Kona Historical Society with its living history coffee farm nearby. Horseback ride or hike to the tip of Kealakekua Bay Marine Preserve, where Captain Cook was worshiped at first as Lono but then killed on a second landing by angry Hawaiians when they found that they had been deceived. Join locals as they play music on Honaunau Beach most Saturday evenings. Note the historic Aloha or Kona Theaters, once attracting troupes from around the world and now home to cafes fragrant with local products, or join Hawaiian, Tibetan, Chinese, or Japanese cultural celebrations if you are lucky enough to arrive when they occur. Historical kayak and Hawaiian sailing canoe trips are a treat, or just watch the canoe clubs in the tradition of outrigger racing off the famous Honaunau snorkeling beach. For scuba divers, certified instructors are a phone call away.
A Great Day with Captain Cook: Going south on Hwy.#11 head to the Honaunau turn off down the hill to the "Painted Church" and to the "Place of Refuge". You will see the sign to the painted church on the right, St. Benedicts Painted Church, don't miss this experience. A Catholic Priest wanted his parisiners to experience the feeling of a European Cathedral so he painted the inside of this church to look like a very large Cathedral. Very nicely done and well worth the time. Roman Catholic services each Sunday.
Next down the road is the "Place of Refuge" Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park. If a Hawaiian of the Kapu days broke the law and could get to this place before he/she was killed he/she was safe as long as he/she stayed there or were in time restored. A broken Kapu could be a shadow falling on an Alii (King) or for a woman, eating a banana or a yellow tang fish. The system was barbaric and was destroyed by the Hawaiian people in 1819 shortly after the death of King Kamehameha and prior to the arrival of the missionaries on April 20 of 1820. Next across the lower ocean road, good but rough, to the Monuments to Capt. Cook and Henry Obookaya. Capt. Cook discovered Hawaii and Henry O. (As he is lovingly called) was the moving force for bringing the missionaries to Hawaii, a wonderful story. A great place to Kayak with the dolphins, snorkel and hike. A stone beach however so not a good place for surf and sand. Now back up the hill to Kahikolu Church, the beautifully & fully restored mother church of all the smaller churches in the area and a little further up the Napoopoo Road you will find one of the oldest Coffee Mills in Kona, I understand they still have tours and a cup of Kona Coffee. The back up the hill to Captain Cook and south on highway #11 towards the volcano
South Point - Kau
Ho'okena. Leaving Captain Cook & Honaunau area and traveling south on Highway #11 you will shortly find the Hookena Beach Park turn off just past Kealia. In it's day Hookena was an important inter island steamer landing. in 1889, Robert Louis Stevenson mentioned his experience at the landing as followes, "The boat was run in upon a breaker and the passengers ejected on a flat rock, where the next wave submerged us to our hoses. There we continued to stand, the rain drenching us from above, the sea from below, like people mesmerized: and as we were all (being travelers) decked out with the green garlands of departure, we must have offered somewhat the same appearance as a shipwrecked picnic." Hookena offers a nice pocket beach with very fine black sand with a touch of coral sand. Look for the sandy entry/exit point. Most of the time there will be a local entrepreneur hawking local lauhala or a cold coconut. About an hour drive down and back up to Hwy #11.
Ho'okena State Park, walled by cliffs where many minor ali'i (nobles) were entombed. Remember this is about a 3 hour excursion off of Hwy #11, so give your self plenty of time.
Miloli'i. A little further south on Hwy.#11 you will see the Milolii Beach County Park. Nice area for diving. Big coconuts and a past favorite spot for opelu fishing. Small local community. About an hour down and back up to Hwy Miloli'i is another small fishing village of the past where ships would land passengers on the rocks in the rain. A wonderful place to scuba dive, but be careful, there are some strong currents and a shark or two. Again, it is about a 3 hour excursion off of Hwy #11.
South Point Just past Hawaii Ocean View Estates you will find the cut off to South Point. South
Point is the southerly most tip of the United States of America. About a 60 minute hike south and you will find a very unique Green Sand Beach. (volcanic sand crystals of olivine). Sometimes a beachcomber is rewarded with a gem quality stone. South Point has a park area but Ka Lae, "the point" has very turbulent converging winds & currents offshore. Great for fishing, some of the worlds best, but don't expect to let the kids play in the ocean. Well worth the time just to be able to say, "I have been as far south, in the goodol US of A, as you can go and still be dry".
South Point, Naalehu
The southerly most tip of the United States. Great Fishing and a unique
Green Sand Beach of olivine, that whalers once thought were diamonds. A
touch of aloha with the little quiet town of Naalehu and the Old
Congregational Church at Waiohinu. Old Hawai'i here but the sidewalks roll
up at about 6:00 PM. Naalehu Town has a post office, two convenient stores, and
four restaurants and two beautiful parks. Located only 64 miles from Hilo or 56
miles from Kailua-Kona on Highway #11. Come swim with the Green Sea turtles at
Punalu'u State Park, a beautiful Black Sands Beach just 12 miles away.
Explore Ka Lae (South Point) Site of the first Polynesian landings in the
Island. Enjoy spectacular views of the cliffs shorelines. Hike to famous Green
Sand Beach (The only one on all the Island) from South Point Road. Or you can
also get there with a four wheel drive. We have 3 beautiful golf courses with
tennis courts. They are Sea Mountain, Discovery Harbor, Volcano, and a
The volcano area is a serious rain forest of 200 " a year with a 4,000' Elevation A Big Island must see, you may need: good hiking shoes, warm clothes, raincoat & flashlight. Park Service: (808)9677311 & 9677977.
Mark Twain at the Kilauea Volcano, 1866:
"Shortly the crater came into view. I have seen Vesuvius since, but it was a mere toy, a child's volcano, a soup kettle, compared to this...Here was a yawning pit upon whose floor the armies of Russia could camp, and have room to spare."
When you plan to see the volcano, and most do, you might want to consider the following: The volcano area is a serious rain forest of 150-200 inches a year and the elevation is right at 4,000'. It can be most beautiful but it can also be cold, foggy, windy and raining like you wouldn't believe. Be sure to bring along good hiking shoes, raincoat (or an emergency big clear garbage bag), flashlights, warm clothes and perhaps a change. The Park Service (808) 985-6000 will help you with general park information. Volcano eruption information can be obtained at (808)985-6000 . Or call one of the local businesses and ask about the weather that day.
The best time to see the active volcano is after dark. The road down to the volcano on the chain of craters road takes nearly an hour and the walk across the lava fields to the viewing site takes about 20 minutes. You will need a flashlight for each member of your party to be allowed on the trail by the Forestry Service.
You will find many B&Bs and Inn's around the Volcano area of which My Island and the The Country Goose you will find as two of the finest. It takes roughly 5 hours of actual driving time to drive around the Big Island, but it makes a long day to see all of the sights. Some folks stay in a dryer area like Kona and then drive the Island in a day and see the sights and finish up at the Volcano and either spend the night at Volcano or drive back to Kona in the evening, about a 2 hr.+ drive. However you do it, no trip to the Big Island is complete without a trip to the Volcano. The Volcano is a 200" rain forest and it is always wise to check on the weather prior to exploring the Volcano area. You will want to be sure and take a parka for each person in your party as well as a flash light. Some have lost their way at night while watching the flow and have spent a cold wet night out on the lava flow.
( Local Information: The travel time all the way around the Big Island of Hawaii takes a little more than five hours. As Hilo is the wettest city in the U.S. with 120 inches of rain per year and the Volcano area can be a cold tropical rain forest at the 4,000 ft. elevation with a rain fall of 200 inches per year. It is always wise to check the weather prior to exploring the wet or windward east side of the Big Island of Hawaii.
Kona is the dry/sunny side of the island with 30 inches of rain per year and
enjoys the soft Hawaiian breezes and best beaches. The Alii (Kings) selected
Kona as the place in all Hawai’i to live. Many elect to stay on this dry side of
the Big island to be able to select a good day to explore the wet side. The
Volcanoes National Park is about 2 hours south of Kailua-Kona. Enjoy a gentle
touch of aloha from old Hawai’i along the road less traveled from the Big Island
Going Back in time, Black Sand Beach, Hot Spirngs, Lush Rain Forests and Lava Tree State Park on the so. end of the Chain of Craters Rd. Pahoa town retains it's funky, rural charm. The Kumukahi Lighthouse is still in operation. And the volcanic natural hot spring was still available with my last information. Between Volcano and Hilo as you travel south on Hwy. #11 you will find the cut off at Keaau to go to Pahoa in the Puna District. Puna retains it's funky, down-at-the-heels rural artist charm. You will drive thru a lush rainforest to discover the barren rock lava of the Kalapana Area. The town of Kalapana was destroyed by the 1990 lava flows. It is also the other end of the Chain of Craters Road going back to the Volcano. There are hot springs to soak in, a black sand beach and some nice B&B's like Pearl's Shell for a good night's sleep. The old Kumukahi Lighthouse, still in operation is a special attraction, it had lava just flow around it. Also Lava Tree State Park, a volcanic landmark, is located on Hwy. #132. Well worth the time if you would like to see a little of Old Hawaii. Puna is just 27 miles from Hilo and it is a very nice tropical drive. Visit the Lava Tree State Monument, where you can see the aftereffects of lava on ohia trees; the Kapoho tidepools, some of which are deep enough for snorkeling; and the Mackenzie State Recreational area, which still maintains an old Hawaiian coastal trail.
Panaewa Zoo-In a rainforest, with tropical and rainforest animals. Listen to the parrot imitate its owl neighbor. This little excursion will take about an hour and for some will be a highlight to remember. Take a rain parka, just in case, or an umbrella. All who enjoy animals and would like to see some Hawaii animals should take the time to stop by, you will be glad that you did. The free roaming peacocks love bread scraps but don't tell any one I told you. Look for the sign on the left side of the highway between Puna and Hilo.
Hilo (Pronounced hee-low)
A very lovely city with an International Airport (HIA). The orchid capital of the world, historical sites. Some of the finest parks, a little Rain Forest Zoo. Rainbow and Akaka Falls are a must to see. Hilo is an old port town, but much of the port was taken away by a tidal wave in 1960. The tsunami deluged the waterfront, sweeping an organ console out the stage door of the Palace Theater, depositing fishing boats in the streets like parked cars and taking out totally many blocks of the business district and dock area. One elderly Japanese lady was carried out to sea on her screen door and returned to the beach several hours later.
In place of the totaled parts of the city are now beautiful gardens and green vistas. Buy a box lunch and have a picnic in the beautiful Lili'upkalani Park; 30 acres of Japanese gardens and fish ponds. Numerious restaurants are located throughout Hilo. Located on the windward side of the island, Hilo has rampant tropical growth, waterfalls, leafy tree ferns, and enough flowers to build Noah size rainbow. The rainfall is about 200 inches annually, making Hilo the wettest city in the United States.
Things to see in Hilo: The Merrie Monarch Hula Festival, The International Festival, The Aloha Festival. The Lyman House Museum, Rainbow Falls, Suisan Fish Auction, Farmer's Market, Liliuokalani Park (A MUST), Historic downtown and Banyan Golf Course one of the most reasonable in Hawaii. Also Boiling Pots, a little off beat but ask a local young man and he will know the way.
Rainbow Falls Just above town on Wai'anuenue Avenue. The morning sun creates a rainbow in the spray. Thunderously powerful after heavy rains. Boiling Pots-about 2 miles above Rainbow Falls on the same road. Spectacular after heavy rains. The avenue also leads the way up the mountain to Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa on the "Saddle Road". The Saddle Road is very windy and soon is up into the clouds. When wet, foggy and with Army trucks from the base the road can be dangerous so be very careful to check with your auto rental for insurance coverage. And don't lock your keys in the car, it can be very cold up there. There is no gas, no food, no pit stops and very few phones along the Saddle Road. Most local folks avoid the road unless they are going hunting or up to the snow on the mountains in the winter. The short apparent short cut by the saddle road may save 15 minutes from Kailua-Kona to Hilo which is 87 miles. Kailua to Kona via the Beautiful Hamakua Coast is 94 miles.
Onomea Scenic Route. Driving north west on Hwy. #19 just out side of Hilo you will begin to travel along the Hamakua Coast. Watch for a fourmile drive on the "old road," with beautiful views of Onomea Bay. Consider visiting the Hawaiian Tropical Gardens along the way. · Nani Mau Gardens-Just out of Hilo going toward the north and along the windward Hamakua Coast.
Akaka Falls-11 miles north of Hilo, the little town of Honomu is a mustsee, as no trip is complete to the Big Island without seeing these beautiful falls. a onemile path through tropical foliage loops past two spectacular waterfalls. Turn off the highway at Honomu, and follow the signs. The town is a quaint plantation village, revived with nice gift shops and galleries and home made ice cream. no trip to the Big Island is complete without seeing these beautiful falls, takes about 1 hour.
Laupahoehoe Point has a County beach park, including picnic tables, showers, and quiet tidepools for bathing, as well as a spectacular ocean view.
Honokaa is an historic agricultural town from the past days of sugarcane and cattle ranching. A stroll down the main street brings you to a number of antique and memorabilia stores, local craftsman's shops, a homemade ice cream shop, four family restaurants, galleries and friendly people. There are many old restored historic buildings including a 1930's movie theater (still showing modern films Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings). In Honokaa you can get a taste of what Hawaii was like years ago but the sidewalks roll up at dusk except for the movies. Every Saturday morning there is a Farmer's Market. The annual rainfall is from 60" to 140". There is very little modern development now that sugar is no longer grown. Kalopa State Park and the beautiful Waipio Valley are the most notable areas to visit. No visit to Hawaii Island can be seen as complete with out a visit to Waipio Valley. Truly a serious hike (or 4 wheel) into the past.
Kalopa State Park is a wonderland of trails in native Hawaiian rainforest which retains its original indigenous species of plants and trees. There are many beautiful wellkept trails through the forest, from a 0.4 mile 10minute walk to a 6mile circumlocution of the entire park. Good to take along some rain gear and warm clothes at certain times of the year.
Waipio Valley overlook is a 10 minute drive from the town of Honokaa. If you like hiking and are in shape you will enjoy the walk down the (paved) road to the valley floor and the milelong black sand beach. Bring drinking water & food with you, and allow 30 min. down, and 1 hour to return.. There is much ancient history here. King Kamehameha was raised in secret here and later this valley was the leading settlement of Hawaii Island. Some say that as many as 30,000 people lived in the valley at one time, but it is hard to imagine that now. Waipio is like a mini- tropical Grand Canyon. The highest freefalling waterfall in the world is in the back of the Waipio. The impressive black sand beach here has varying ocean conditions so be respectful of your abilities when you venture out to swim, body surf or go boogie boarding as there can be a very strong northerly rip tide. The river is a lot of fun to play in but do not drink the water as the water comes from the upper cane fields. Fourwheel drive tours, muledrawn wagon rides, and horseback rides thru Waipio Valley are offered by the travel agency in Honokaa. A visit to Waipio with its cascading water falls, gently murmuring streams and taro fields is really turning back the clock to Old Hawai'i. My children use to like to float inner tubes down the stream to the ocean.
Waipio Valley look out is our next suggestion. If you are a hardy, really in shape person you will enjoy the hike down the trail to the valley floor. 15 min. down, 45 min. up for the return. Waipio Valley has a neat beach but a strong south to north rip most of the time. (Have fun) but be careful if you go out. There are two stables in the valley for horse back riding,
Waipio Valley is your chance to turn back the clock to Old Hawai'i and go back in time about 50 years.
Waimea Or Kamuela as the local people lovingly call it for Samuel Parker, the founder of Parker Ranch. Parker Ranch is located in Waimea upcountry, El. 2800'. This Mega Ranch is composed of 225,000 acres and was the largest familyowned ranch in the United States until the passing of Richard Smart. In 1989, Parker Ranch was opened to visitors, who can now tour the elegant Parker residences or take guided horse rides around the grounds.
The very beautiful town of Waimea centers the very heart of The Parker Ranch. A snap shot of the Old West, Hawaiian style or Paneolo style. Like Rodao's check with Parker Ranch at xxxx for the next big get-together and B-B/Q. There is the wet south side of town and the dry north side of town. In just a few minutes you can go from Lush grass lands and tropical ohia trees to prickly pear and Souther Calif. scrub...One of the most amazing things about the Big Island is it's climates, 11 out of 13 world climates. The Local Folks say, "No like it here, drive for one half hour".
Mauna Kea Mountain Observatories:
Leaving Waimea and driving the upper road to Kailua-Kona along highway #190 (Mamalahoa Hwy.) for 6.2 miles you will come to the "Saddle Road" cut-off #200. If you go south on the Saddle Road for 25.8 miles you will come to the Mauna Kea Observatory turn off on the John A. Burns Way road to the summit. This turn off is 28.5 miles from Hilo. It is a two wheel drive up to a sometimes very cold 9,200 ft. Level for the Ellison S. Onizuka Astronomy Complex. Several evenings a week a large telescope is brought out to see the stars in the cool clear air. For more info. call 808-974-6200. To go on to the summit you are required to travel on the gravel road in a 4 wheel drive vehicle. The summit is 6.6 miles further up the mountain to the 13,796 foot elevation, most folks slow way down up there, not much oxygen. So be careful and be sure to have good equipment as there are no repair/gas/water or rest room facilities up there unless you can find a tour going through one of the observatory buildings or a friendly local with tools. December through March you may find snow on Mauna Kea and some go skying and sledding (truck inner tubes), no lifts, but usually friends will take turns driving down to a pick up point.
Visitors' Center on Mauna Kea. Astronomy exhibits, sometimes
telescope views at night.
Phone (808) 961 2180 for information and in and advance for reservations.
Kohala is the old part of the Island of Hawaii, formerly the land of sugar cane and the site of the second statue of King Kamahamaha. A place where time has stopped for many years. Windy Upolu Point, beautiful views, some historical digs, Islands largest heiau and beautiful Hapuna Beach Park, one of the finest beaches in the world. Top ten by Conde Nest.
Hawi Town is at the northern tip of the Big Island, and until the 1970's was a sugar farming community. Hawi (pronounced "Havee") has a couple of restaurant and shops and is known for a being the birth place of King Kamehameha and has a statue to his honor. Originally the statue was for Honolulu but it was accidently dropped overboard in deep water so the powers that be had to order a new one for Honolulu. Later someone was able to retreve the original statue so it was placed in Hawi to mark the birthplace of King Kamehameha. Windy Upolu Point is the northernmost point on the Big Island, with a beautiful view of Maui on a clear day. Sometimes I think I have been able to see Oahu.
Pololu Valley is cut into a 400 foot cliff with a small river that still meanders through at the plane. There is a quite steep 30minute hike to get to the bottom. For the very hardy there is also a trail between Pololu Valley and Waipio Valley to the south that I understand is very tough & beautiful. That trip may take several days, a tent, rain gear, food and good wet type gear and hiking shoes, not for the faint hearted or the easy going crew. Wild horses, pigs and donkeys run free here.
Lapakahi Park is an ancient Hawaiian village. Paved paths lead down to the water's edge, with plaques along the way explaining about what you pass, native trees and their uses, native stone house platforms, etc. Going south on Hwy. #19 towards Kailua-Kona.
Kawaihae is a commercial harbor, and home of the famous Kawaihae Canoe Club. A convenient store, galleries, a shop or two, a dive rental shop and a few restaurants are all located in a small shopping center. This is not really a town, but serves a number of residences and small business areas, as well as the Kona deep shipping harbor and home for a boating community.
Spencer Beach Park is a very protected beach, perfect if you have small children or don't like big waves. There are easy paths from the parking area and public rest rooms. At Spencer Park is Pu'ukohola Heiau (temple), Hawaii's most famous and largest heiau. Another small heiau as well as an information shack and nice trails to the coast are all at the same location. The history of these ancient temples built by King Kamehameha is fascinating. From this area, on a clear day, you can see the four largest mountains from one spot: Hualalai, Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea and the Kohala Mountains. Spencer Beach Park may not be suitable for overnight camping due to other long term campers.
Hapuna Beach Park is one of the finest whitesand beaches in the world (top ten by Conde Nast). You park and walk down a paved path to the beach. There is very little rain here, about 6" per year, so this beach has practically guaranteed great weather. Sunsets at Hapuna are incredible! Maui can be seen 35 miles away. A covered pavilion, picnic tables, showers, restrooms and a small hot dog and cold drink stand make this an easy beach to visit. There are public camping facilities here but again they may not be desirable due to the condition of facilities and use. And don't leave exposed valuables in your car. Keep things locked in the trunk for better security.
Between Hapuna Beach Park and the Keahole Kona International Airport (KOA) is one of the best places in the world to snorkel, scuba dive and enjoy sun, surf and sand. Give your self time to explore, there must be 15-20 small accessible beaches along this Golden Kona Coast of Old Hawai'i. There are some excellent beach map books on the Big Island.
Thus concludes this directed tour of things to see, places to stay, things to do around the Big Island of Hawaii. Written & gathered By Ken Smith, 10/26/97, The Instant Hawaii Web Service
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