It’s a Big, Big Is­land

101 Things to Do (Big Island) - - IT’S A BIG, BIG ISLAND -

Get a Front Row “Hot” Seat

This year, Madam Pele, the leg­endary vol­cano god­dess, de­cided it was time for a lit­tle house­keep­ing and changed things up at her fa­vorite vol­cano, Ki­lauea. Things may have changed by the time you read this, but flows have been head­ing into new di­rec­tions, a new erup­tion has started and there was even a col­lapse of the crater floor. Lava flow up­dates can be found on the Hawai‘i Vol­ca­noes Na­tional Park site and at http://vol­ca­noes.usgs.gov/hvo/ ac­tiv­ity/ki­laueas­t­a­tus.php or by call­ing (808) 961-8093.

There are sev­eral ways to get in on the ex­cite­ment of Ki­lauea’s ac­tiv­ity. Lava boat tours have be­come a pop­u­lar at­trac­tion; boat com­pa­nies like Lava Ocean Ad­ven­tures will be ready to ferry pas­sen­gers to a front-row seat. Mean­while, al­ter­nate tours are avail­able.

When fiery-hot lava, some­times boil­ing at 2,100 de­grees Faren­heit, col­lides with cool sea­wa­ter, the im­pact is stag­ger­ing. Pic­ture a pow­er­ful grenade that ex­plodes into a foun­tain of steam and hurls vol­canic de­bris ev­ery which way. Safe view­ing is pos­si­ble via sev­eral op­tions, in­clud­ing hik­ing, bik­ing and noc­tur­nal heli­copter flights.

A 15.5-mile bike ride will get you to the show. BikeVol­cano. com has de­signed a tour that pro­vides sun­set views of lava hit­ting the sea and in­cludes a stop in Kala­pana, a vil­lage rav­aged by ear­lier lava flow. Take to the sky for a panoramic view of molten lava burn­ing and ooz­ing over black lava fields. Big Is­land Air con­ducts night flights and Par­adise He­li­copters flies over the vol­cano in a chop­per with­out doors.

• Big Is­land Air (808) 329-4868 • BikeVol­cano.com (808) 934-9199 • Blue Hawai­ian He­li­copters (808) 961-5600 • Lava Ocean Ad­ven­tures (808) 966-4200 • Par­adise He­li­copters (808) 969-7392 • Sa­fari He­li­copters (808) 969-1259

Sad­dle Up

Horse­back rid­ing is un­ques­tion­ably one of the Hawai‘i Is­land’s pre­miere at­trac­tions. The Big Is­land’s di­verse ter­rain, eye­pop­ping vis­tas, and wealth of work­ing cat­tle ranches make it an ex­cit­ing lo­ca­tion for horse­back ad­ven­tures. Pan­iolo Ad­ven­tures, lo­cated on Pono­holo Ranch, spe­cial­izes in open-range rides on its 11,000-acre work­ing cat­tle ranch. Sit­u­ated on Ko­hala Moun­tain, the views, par­tic­u­larly at sun­set, are stun­ning. If you’re up for a work­out, try a four-hour, open-range trot through high coun­try ter­rain with fab­u­lous panoramic views.

Parker Ranch, in Waimea, was founded in 1847, and is one of the old­est and largest cat­tle spreads in the United States. Ex­pect to come across plenty of his­toric sites on a ride over this 150,000-acre work­ing ranch.

Waipi‘o Ridge Sta­bles is well known for its horse­back tours of Waipi‘o Val­ley. The beauty and rugged ter­rain of this val­ley is prob­a­bly best seen on the back of a horse. One tour heads along the rim of the val­ley and then fol­lows a stream in the rain­for­est to a hid­den wa­ter­fall that can be viewed only on horse­back.

An­other com­pany, Wapi‘o on Horse­back, trans­ports rid­ers into the val­ley in four-wheel-drive vans, where they sad­dle up for a nar­rated jour­ney through the his­tory, leg­ends and wild beauty of this revered Hawai­ian val­ley.

• Na‘alapa Sta­bles (808) 889-0022 • Pan­iolo Ad­ven­tures (808) 889-5354 • Waipi‘o Ridge Sta­bles (808) 775-1007

Let Your­self Go on a Zi­pline

Some­where in the gap be­tween heli­copter tours and hik­ing has come a rain­for­est ad­ven­ture called zi­plin­ing.

At tree­top level, a zi­pliner, strapped to a har­ness, races over a ca­ble like Matt Da­mon in a Ja­son Bourne flick. The har­ness is at­tached to a trol­ley that rides on the ca­ble. Once you’re buck­led up, you’ll dip through leafy topped, old-growth trees, fly over unique vol­canic ter­rain, and wa­ter­falls—lots of them.

On the Big Is­land, you’ll find two tours on the Ha­makua coast and an­other op­er­at­ing in the North Ko­hala Moun­tains.

Umauma Falls Zi­pline Ex­pe­ri­ence has a lock on an ex­clu­sive wa­ter­fall view. Ex­pect to come face-to-face with a dozen spec­tac­u­lar falls (in­clud­ing a stun­ning three-tiered cas­cade) and, for good mea­sure, a lava tube. This course features a 2,000-foot line that’s the long­est zi­pline on the is­land. The course is lo­cated on the Ha­makua coast off of High­way 19 near Hakalau.

Big Is­land Eco Ad­ven­tures, the is­land’s orig­i­nal zi­pline tour, has con­structed its course in the Ko­hala Moun­tains. This is gor­geous coun­try, pop­u­lated by small vil­lages like Hawi (where this out­fit has its head­quar­ters). Vast stretches of open space give way to tracts of wild, breath­tak­ing ter­rain and pro­vide the back­drop for the eight-line run.

Perched amongst the trees of Halawa, Ko­hala Zi­pline’s Ko­hala Canopy Ad­ven­ture features el­e­vated sus­pen­sion bridges, soar­ing tree plat­forms and thrilling zi­plines. Ex­clu­sive features, such as twin Whis­perLi­nesSM and smooth stop brak­ing, en­sure your safety and com­fort.

Sky­line Eco-Ad­ven­tures’ awe-in­spir­ing new zi­pline tour has you soar­ing di­rectly above world-fa­mous Akaka Falls, a 250-foot wa­ter­fall. Sky­line Eco-Ad­ven­tures—the first zi­pline op­er­a­tor in the United States—di­rectly above mul­ti­ple wa­ter­falls.

You’re hooked up. You take a few steps. And leap off the 70-foot cliff! As you safely land hun­dreds of feet away you can’t wait for your next “flight” on the seven zip lines and sus­pen­sion bridge at Zip Isle Zip Line Ad­ven­tures, lo­cated at World Botan­i­cal Gar­dens. Night­time zip rides are also avail­able. Zip Isle and World Botan­i­cal Gar­dens are lo­cated north of Hilo, off High­way 19, at mile marker 16. Open daily, 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

Each of the cour­ses of­fers its own dis­tinc­tive char­ac­ter­is­tics, but all give safety a high pri­or­ity. Be­fore har­ness­ing up, zi­plin­ers are given thor­ough in­struc­tions and are safely out­fit­ted.

• Big Is­land Eco Ad­ven­tures (808) 889-5111 • Ko­hala Zi­pline (808) 331-3620 • Sky­line Eco-Ad­ven­tures (808) 270-8753 • Umauma Falls Zi­pline Ex­pe­ri­ence

(808) 930-9477 (ZIPS) • World Botan­i­cal Gar­dens (808) 963-5427

or (888) 947-4753

Get Ditched

If you think “ditch tour” means you’ll be splash­ing around in few feet of muddy ir­ri­ga­tion water, think again—the Ko­hala Ditch Ad­ven­tures is a multi-part ad­ven­ture that in­volves kayak­ing, ATVs, and a num­ber of stun­ning views.

The tour starts with an off-road ex­cur­sion on Pinz­gauers to a jun­gle set­ting high in the Ko­hala moun­tains. From here, guests hike over a 150-foot flume bridge over­look­ing a wa­ter­fall to get to the be­gin­ning of the kayak seg­ment of the trip. Then, tour guides lead ad­ven­tur­ers along 2 1/2 miles of Ko­hala ditch sys­tem, which weaves through the Hawai­ian rain­for­est lush with is­land flora and fauna (birds), 10 tun­nels and water flumes. Fi­nally, af­ter pad­dling to shore, vis­i­tors fin­ish their tours with ATV rides through Ko­hala’s ma­cadamia nut or­chards that over­look the ocean.

Tour guides spice up the tour with lo­cal his­tory and Hawai­ian lore. Lo­cated just past mile marker 24 on the left of High­way 270.

• Ko­hala Ditch Ad­ven­tures (808) 889-6000

Pick A Beach

White, black and even green sand beaches abound along the Big Is­land’s 266-mile coast­line. Check out some of the most pop­u­lar spots be­low:

Kauna‘oa Beach at the Mauna Kea Beach Ho­tel Ha­puna Beach pop­u­lar for walking and body board­ing Anaeho‘omalu Beach known as “A-Bay,” great for wind­surf­ing and kitesurf­ing Ka‘up­ulehu Beach at the Four Sea­sons Re­sort White Sands Beach Park, near the Keauhou Re­sort, also known as “Magic Sands” be­cause the beach can quickly dis­ap­pear dur­ing high-surf months only to re­turn in the spring Ka­halu‘u Beach Park Kona’s most pop­u­lar snor­kel­ing beach Pu­nalu‘u Beach Park a well-known black sand beach Macken­zie State Park in Pa­hoa there’s a lava-lined pool heated to 95 de­grees Fahren­heit by a vol­canic stream nearby Co­conut Is­land Park, near the Hilo Hawai­ian Ho­tel, a lo­cal fa­vorite for fish­ing and swim­ming Lau­pa­hoe­hoe Point Park cre­ated by a lava flow from Mauna Kea, it has a large grassy area great for camp­ing Waipi‘o Val­ley’s Black Sand Beach ac­ces­si­ble only with four-wheel drive or on foot from the over­look

Re­mem­ber: Water con­di­tions at Big Is­land beaches can be tricky and un­pre­dictable. Whether swim­ming or surf­ing, fol­low th­ese ba­sic aquatic rules: Watch the ocean for at least 20 min­utes be­fore en­ter­ing—take cau­tion if you no­tice water mov­ing rapidly or swirling, or if you see waves break­ing far off­shore; Never swim or snorkel alone; Al­ways su­per­vise chil­dren; Strong cur­rents near shore are the most fre­quent and dan­ger­ous haz­ards. Ar­eas near river mouths are par­tic­u­larly dan­ger­ous; Obey warn­ing signs. If life­guards are un­avail­able, ask other beachgoers about po­ten­tial haz­ards; Lo­cate the life­guard sta­tion, emer­gency phone or res­cue surf­board when you ar­rive at a beach; and never turn your back to the ocean.

Re­live Mis­sion His­tory

Nearly 180 years ago, a New Eng­land mis­sion­ary cou­ple in their early 20s ar­rived in Hilo. It was here that they spent the next 50 years of their lives. The Ly­man Mis­sion House is now the old­est wood-frame build­ing on the Big Is­land. Built in 1839 by David and Sarah Ly­man, the house is con­structed partly of the lo­cal hard­woods, koa and ‘ohia, and is fur­nished with orig­i­nal and pe­riod dé­cor. Take a guided tour to see this his­toric home and hear the Ly­mans’ story.

The Mis­sion House is ad­ja­cent to the only gen­eral Hawai­ian his­tory mu­seum on the is­land. The Smith­so­ni­anaf­fil­i­ated Ly­man Mu­seum has nat­u­ral his­tory ex­hibits on vol­ca­noes and Big Is­land habi­tats and world-renowned col­lec­tions of seashells and min­er­als.

The mu­seum is lo­cated at 276 Haili Street in his­toric down­town Hilo and is open Mon­day through Satur­day, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Visit www.ly­man­mu­seum.org for tour times.

• Ly­man Mu­seum (808) 935-5021

Ride an ATV from Moun­tain to Sea

North Ko­hala is a sparsely pop­u­lated, wildly beau­ti­ful re­gion—an ideal place for off-road ex­plo­ration. Be­hind the wheel of an All-Ter­rain Ve­hi­cle and with a guide that knows the area’s ter­rain, his­tory and cul­ture, be pre­pared for a ride into parts un­known.

ATV Out­fit­ters Hawaii is owned by long-time North Ko­hala res­i­dents. They’ll ride with you on ATVs specif­i­cally de­signed for rugged off-road travel. Ex­pe­ri­ence the real Hawai‘i on an un­for­get­table ride over pri­vate ranch­lands, spec­tac­u­lar 200-foot sea cliffs and through lush, trop­i­cal rain forests. Knowl­edge­able, fifth­gen­er­a­tion na­tive Hawai­ian guides lead you to a hid­den wa­ter­fall and se­cluded beach that King Kame­hameha once fa­vored. The only com­pany to of­fer dou­ble-seat and side-by-side ATVs, it’s an ad­ven­ture for the en­tire fam­ily. But this is more than a rugged ride through gor­geous ter­rain; it’s a re­mark­able op­por­tu­nity to learn from ex­perts about a place barely touched by time. Lo­cated just past mile marker 24, on the left of High­way 270.

• ATV Out­fit­ters Hawaii (808) 889-6000

Swim with a Manta Ray

Din­ner with manta rays is an awe­some ex­pe­ri­ence. Though re­lated to sharks, th­ese amaz­ing sea crea­tures have no teeth and no tail stingers, mak­ing them harm­less to hu­mans, but in­trigu­ing to watch. In Hawai­ian, they are called ha­halua.

The Kona Coast, with its res­i­dent manta ray pop­u­la­tion, is one of the best places in the world to get close to them. Many Kona Coast div­ing and snor­kel­ing com­pa­nies con­duct night manta ray runs.

You can also hope for a peek from the shore. The water off the Sher­a­ton Keauhou Bay Re­sort & Spa are a reg­u­lar feed­ing spot for anta rays, and a good place to see them is from the lanai off the Crys­tal Blue cock­tail lounge. The re­sort will turn on its out­door lights when the manta rays ap­pear.

Dive shop own­ers say that the manta rays can be found most days, from as far north as wa­ters off the Kea­hole-Kona In­ter­na­tional Air­port to Keauhou Bay. Divers are in­structed to stay near the bot­tom and snorkel­ers on the sur­face, to al­low the manta rays room to ma­neu­ver.

• Aloha Kayak Com­pany (808) 322-2868 • Fair Wind Cruises (808) 345-0244 • Ka­manu Char­ters (808) 329-2021 • Manta Ray Dives of Hawaii (808) 325-1687 • Nep­tune Charlies (808) 331-2184 • Ocean Eco Tours (808) 324-7873 • Sun­light on Water (808) 896-2480

Hike with a Guide

The Big Is­land is too big and too full of se­crets to imag­ine grab­bing a hik­ing stick and head­ing into the wilder­ness on your own. If you want to get the full ex­pe­ri­ence of this is­land’s wild and beau­ti­ful land­scape, take a guided tour. Hawai‘i For­est & Trail, an award-win­ning eco-tour com­pany, of­fers in­no­va­tive and in­for­ma­tive na­ture ad­ven­tures and is known for de­sign­ing hikes that com­bine ex­cep­tional tours with en­vi­ron­men­tal in­tegrity.

The com­pany’s playlist changes fre­quently. Choose from a 12-hour trek that cul­mi­nates in a twi­light view of erupt­ing Ki­lauea Vol­cano and its siz­zling lava flow. The com­pany will take you to Waipi‘o Val­ley, a largely in­ac­ces­si­ble des­ti­na­tion known for its nat­u­ral beauty. HF&T gets you there on a trek that fol­lows a path 1,000 feet above the floor of the val­ley. HF&T of­fers a va­ri­ety of other out­door ad­ven­tures in­clud­ing hikes in Hawai‘i Vol­ca­noes Na­tional Park and Ki­lauea Vol­cano, the Mauna Kea sum­mit, sev­eral wa­ter­fall hikes, and a culi­nary and farm tour. Bird­ing and wildlife treks also are avail­able.

Hik­ing Hawai‘i Vol­ca­noes Na­tional Park is not your gar­den­va­ri­ety wilder­ness trek. This is lava land, a na­tional park that features a live vol­cano with all the daily un­cer­tain­ties of na­ture un­leashed. The 333,000-acre park, on the slopes of Mauna Loa, is a trekker’s par­adise. Pick a trail through a lava field,

around the smol­der­ing Ki­lauea caldera, on the hot sea­coast of Puna and Ka‘u, or at the 13,677-foot sum­mit of Mauna Loa. The long­est loop is the Crater Rim Trail, the grand tour of Hawai­ian vol­can­ism. The 11.6-mile trip takes about 8 hours on a fairly level path past lava, cin­ders, steam vents, rifts, craters, tree molds, a lava tube, and views of past dev­as­ta­tion and strug­gling new life.

Check with the Park Ser­vice for hik­ing in­for­ma­tion about ac­tive lava flows as well as ar­eas that may be closed due to dan­ger­ous con­di­tions. Park rangers also can pro­vide in­for­ma­tion about the more chal­leng­ing overnight hikes in the coastal re­gion and South­west and East Rift Zones.

The Hawai‘i Vol­ca­noes Na­tional Park (808-985-6000), the Hawai‘i Di­vi­sion of Forestry and Wildlife (808-974-4221) and the Hawai‘i Di­vi­sion of State Parks (808-974-6200) all han­dle the ad­min­is­tra­tion of Hawai‘i Is­land’s many pub­lic ac­cess trails. Con­tact th­ese agen­cies for per­mits, reser­va­tions and cur­rent in­for­ma­tion con­cern­ing hik­ing.

• Hawai‘i For­est & Trail (808) 331-8505 • Kapo­hoKine Ad­ven­tures (808) 964-1000

En­ter­tain the Fam­ily

Let’s face it, there’s only so much “tour­ing” a fam­ily can do be­fore the kids get stir-crazy. Let the keiki burn off some steam while the adults un­wind in this ul­tra-mod­ern, high-tech fam­ily en­ter­tain­ment and bowl­ing cen­ter at KBXtreme.

There are 16 lanes of bowl­ing and video games in the Kid­Zone Ar­cade. Singers might want to belt out a few tunes at Par­rots Rock karaoke lounge or en­joy fresh pop­corn and cot­ton candy while other Idol- wannabes try their luck. Watch sports on 55 big-screen TVs, shoot some pool or throw some darts at the XFactor Sports Club & Lounge or grab a bite to eat at Chubby’s Avalux Café, where they’re serv­ing burg­ers, milk­shakes, sal­ads, lo­cal fa­vorites and break­fast all day.

An­other fam­ily friendly, out-of-the-sun­shine op­tion is The Great 4D Movie Ride ex­pe­ri­ence in the Shops at Mauna Lani. Pic­ture a movie the­ater that puts you in 3-D glasses, yet in ad­di­tion to multi-sen­sory im­agery, guests ex­pe­ri­ence move­able seats, air blow­ing through their hair, water spritzes, and other “teasers” to help put you in the scene, lit­er­ally. The small, 24-seat the­ater makes for an in­ti­mate yet giggle-filled af­ter­noon. Films range from Sponge­Bob SquarePants to Na­tional Ge­o­graphic’s Sea Mon­sters.

• KBXtreme (808) 326-2694 • The Great 4-D Movie Ride (808) 885-9501

Take a Land or Ocean Farm Tour

Don’t be mis­led by the Big Is­land’s bar­ren lava fields. The ma­jor­ity of the state’s agri­cul­tural prod­ucts are grown and pro­cessed here.

Hawai‘i For­est & Trail con­ducts a unique tour of lo­cal farms

that are us­ing sus­tain­able agri­cul­ture meth­ods. First, the tour heads to Kahua Ranch in the Ko­hala Moun­tains, where cat­tle and sheep are ranched (not to men­tion you’ll get to see a great view of the coast from its 3,000-foot el­e­va­tion). The next stop is Honopua farm, where or­ganic veg­eta­bles, laven­der and cut flow­ers are farmed. Af­ter th­ese stops, at­ten­dees will be served din­ner at the award-win­ning Mer­ri­man’s Restau­rant in Waimea, where chefs pre­pare gourmet din­ners us­ing fresh, lo­cal in­gre­di­ents.

To ap­pre­ci­ate the Poly­ne­sian agri­cul­tural her­itage, visit the Amy Green­well Eth­nob­otan­i­cal Garden, where you’ll see more than 200 va­ri­eties of plants cul­ti­vated by early Hawai­ians. The 15-acre garden is land­scaped to re­flect plant life in the Kona area be­fore for­eign con­tact. It is the only garden in Hawai‘i solely de­voted o Hawai­ian eth­nob­otany, a dis­ci­pline that com­bines the study of hu­man cul­ture with the plants that sup­port it.

• Hawai‘i For­est & Trail (808) 331-8505

Dive Hawai‘i’s Wa­ters

Mauna Loa—the world’s largest ac­tive vol­cano and one of two vol­canic peaks that dom­i­nate the Big Is­land—spreads over half of the is­land. It rises 13,680 feet above sea level and 30,080 feet from its base at the ocean floor. The rest of its great bulk lays fath­oms be­low the ocean in a scuba divers’ fan­tasy of lava flows, sub­merged caves, canyons, cliffs and col­or­ful co­ral reefs.

Div­ing the ocean off the Kona/Ko­hala Coast is a world-class ex­pe­ri­ence. The Kona Coast stands out for its rel­a­tively young lava for­ma­tions, with walls, arch­ways, lava tubes and abun­dant marine life.

Char­ter dive com­pa­nies of­fer guided tours and cour­ses in cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. Some in­clude scuba spe­cialty cour­ses like pho­tog­ra­phy and videog­ra­phy. Many lo­cal dive shops also of­fer more ad­vanced cour­ses, rang­ing from res­cue and dive master to spe­cialty classes and open-water check­outs. If you’ve got the time and the in­cli­na­tion, you can work to­ward full cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, or C-card, which is good in­def­i­nitely and hon­ored world­wide.

• Big Is­land Water Sports (808) 326-7446 • Lava Ocean Ad­ven­tures (808) 966-4200 • Ocean Eco Tours (808) 331-2121

Bike Vol­cano Coun­try

On a guided bi­cy­cle tour through Vol­cano Coun­try, you’ll get close enough to feel the heat and wit­ness the fury of Ki­lauea.

For the com­plete bike tour ex­pe­ri­ence of the Hawai‘i Vol­ca­noes Na­tional Park, there’s Bikevol­cano.com’s all-day trip that takes cy­clists on a mostly down­hill, paved 15-mile course through the park. The daily 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. tour ends with a com­pli­men­tary wine tast­ing ses­sion (op­tional). For those who don’t have time for the full-day tour, there’s the Sum­mit Tour, of­fered 10 a.m.-1 p.m. daily. Both tours of­fer pick-up at the Port of Hilo, mak­ing them the per­fect ac­tiv­ity for cruise ship vis­i­tors. The mostly down­hill course runs 8.5 miles and takes guests from the Ki­lauea Over­look along the rim of the caldera to the steam vents, through a Hawai­ian rain­for­est and to Thurston Lava Tube.

Rid­ers can get a first-hand view of Ki­lauea’s fiery lava on the 10-mile bike course for the Bike to Pele tour. The tour runs Mon­days, from 1 to 8 p.m. Af­ter the bike ride, there’s a mile hike to a black sand beach where one can catch glimpses of the lava flow. This tour in­cludes an in­ter­est­ing side trip where you’ll have din­ner in Kala­pana, an old Hawai­ian fish­ing vil­lage that was buried in 1990 un­der a re­lent­less lava flow. Bi­cy­clists can plan on a tour that will end where su­per­heated lava col­lides with cool ocean water and ex­plodes into plumes of steam.

Tours in­clude moun­tain bikes, hel­mets and other pro­vi­sions.

• Bikevol­cano.com (808) 934-9199

Soak in a Nat­u­ral Hot Tub

Pele also de­serves ku­dos for her pi­o­neer­ing work with ther­mal ponds; long be­fore any­one in­vented hot tubs, the Big Is­land was gur­gling and steam­ing with nat­u­rally heated models fu­eled by warm, ther­mal springs.

Formed when ground water heats as it moves through magma­hot rocks on its way to the sea, it then mixes with cold water to cre­ate a nat­u­rally heated hot tub.

Kapoho Tide Pools are a se­ries of in­ter­con­nected ther­mal tide pools, which some­times ex­tend up to 200 yards into the ocean. Nearby Isaac Hale Beach Park also is the site of a se­ries of hot springs. This site is found on Poho‘iki Bay at the junc­ture of Poho‘iki Road and Kamu-Kapoho Road.

‘Ahanalui Pool, in the beach park of the same name, is a spring-fed ther­mal pool where the tem­per­a­ture tends to hover around 90 de­grees Faren­heit. The pond, a mix­ture of hot water from ther­mal springs and ocean water, is crys­tal clear and gen­er­ally safe enough for small chil­dren. The park has re­strooms, show­ers and a pic­nic area, but there are no drink­ing water or camp­ing fa­cil­i­ties.

Get Your Hands Dirty

Trav­el­ers are find­ing that one of the best ways to dis­cover the “real” Big Is­land is to sign up for a vol­un­teer project and get their hands dirty work­ing with lo­cal res­i­dents on con­ser­va­tion as­sign­ments.

Sign on for af­ter­noon or multi-day trips to help with a va­ri­ety of projects, such as trail build­ing and main­te­nance, plant­ing na­tive plants, con­trol­ling in­va­sive species or clear­ing coast­lines of marine de­bris.

“Vol­un­teer­ing on Va­ca­tion” is an idea that’s catch­ing on world­wide. Get started by call­ing one of th­ese agen­cies:

• Hawai‘i For­est & Trail (800) 464-1993

or (808) 331-8505 • Na­ture Con­ser­vancy of Hawai‘i (808) 939-7171 • U.S. Fish & Wildlife Ser­vice

(800) 344-WILD (9453) • Hawai‘i Vol­ca­noes Na­tional Park (808) 985-6000

Dis­cover King Kame­hameha Coun­try

While South Ko­hala at­tracts most tourists, just 11 miles up­s­lope is a land that de­vel­op­ers for­got. North Ko­hala is lush and green, sparsely pop­u­lated and un­pre­ten­tious; it is South Ko­hala’s coun­try cousin—a breath of fresh moun­tain air in a land­scape barely touched by con­tem­po­rary in­flu­ences.

The re­gion’s neigh­bor­ing ham­lets of Kapa‘au and Hawi, com­pris­ing the most densely pop­u­lated area in the district, re­tain a coun­try feel and mer­chants take an in­ven­tive ap­proach.

And nowhere is King Kame­hameha the Great, who united the Is­lands in 1810, more revered than in North Ko­hala. His birth­place, marked by a sim­ple plaque, is west of Hawi on a dirt road near the ru­ins of Mo‘okini Heiau. To get there, take the turnoff to Upolu Air­port, then turn left at the air­field.

For an­other Kame­hameha view, check out a more than cen­tury-old, nine-foot statue of Kame­hameha that com­mands a hill in Kapa‘au and is eas­ily vis­i­ble from High­way 270.

When head­ing back south, con­sider driv­ing the Ko­hala Moun­tain Road along Route 250 to Waimea in­stead of tak­ing the coastal Akoni Pule High­way. Route 50 is a pic­turesque drive through cat­tle ranches and largely un­pop­u­lated coun­try­side. On a clear day, you can see three of the Big Is­land’s five moun­tains: Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa and Hualalai (and you might even catch a glimpse of Haleakala on the is­land of Maui).

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