Wednesday, December 31, 2014

You must get back to your little grass shack, and everywhere else, in Kealakekua





Plan on spending a day or two at Kealakekua Bay on the Big Island of Hawaii—they will be days to remember. The quick visit will involve a trip to the State Historic Park, site of a huge heiau (temple) that was the first stop for Captain James Cook and his crew in 1779. Across the bay (and reachable via a hike down from the highway above) is Cook Monument, which was the captain's last stop. Snorkeling is excellent at the monument, and also from the rocky beach at the historic park.


On the other end of the bay from the monument is Pu'uhonua o Honounou (ho-now-now) National Park.  Sprawling grounds feature intact ancient sites and trails lead south the the national park through an old village site along a wild coast. In between these tourist anchors are two of Kealakekua's hidden charms: litttle Manini Beach Park (from which the above picture was taken), and Ke'ei Village where few tourists venture—even though Mark Twain wrote about it and King Kamehameha's mentor hailed from here. And (almost forgot!) right next to the national park is Two Step, maybe the best shore-diving snorkeling spot in Hawaii.

Hawaii the Big Island Trailblazer has more details, pages 96 to 104. Almost forgot II: On the way down to Kealakekua is the Kona Pacific Farmers Cooperative where you can get jacked-up on samples of Kona's finest brews. They also offer the region's big fat macadamia nuts - these things are addictive.



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Friday, December 26, 2014

Maui's blowhard can be a serious party pooper


Nakahalele Blowhole on Maui's north coast is a sure crowd-pleaser—who doesn't like to see whitewater exploding 50 feet and higher from an opening in the reef?—but visitors are advised to stay back at risk of serious injury or death. That warning should seem obvious to all but the yahoos among us. But what is not obvious is to stay back and also stay away from the ocean side of the sea geyser, since sleeper waves can jump the reef and knock bystanders for a loop.


Two trails lead down to this well-known, but unmarked roadside attraction, the longer of which is the most scenic (at mile marker 38) since a melange of colorful geology is thrown in to the mix. A half-mile farther, the second trailhead, from which the blowhole is visible, is a switchback down a steep embankment. Several of the trails along this undeveloped coast see few tourists; Maui Trailblazer has more details.



Saturday, December 20, 2014

Star in your own movie at Oahu's Kualoa Park.

With razorback ridges sloping into clear blue waters, Kualoa Regional Park and adjacent Kualoa Ranch have star quality—the setting in fact for dozens of Hollywood movies ranging from Godzilla to 50 First Dates. Most people zip by on the way to the Polynesian Cultural Center on Windward Oahu. Don't be one of them. 

Kualoa Big Island Hawaii

The park's signature feature is tiny Mokoli'i Island, a.k.a., Chinaman's Hat. The island is a premier snike (snorkel-hike), featuring a 600-yard swim followed by a scamper up to the 200-foot summit. This pic was taken from Secret Island, a dreamy beach that is a short hike from Kualoa Park's camping area. A large ancient fishpond borders the strip of sand, making it into an 'island,' a destination for paid tours, which you can easily reach for free.

On the way to the park (just south) is old-timey Tropical Farms, a family run attraction that serves up free coffee and bowls of macadamia nut samples. Tropical Farms is a sure thing if you need gifts or souvenirs. Just inland from the park is Kualoa Ranch, where much of the movie making takes place. The front deck of the ranch is the best place on this coastline to grab a meal (sandwiches, Asian buffet) with a view. Their giftstore also gets high marks. You can roam the grounds and say 'howdy' to the horses, or sign up to see the surrounding 4,000 stunning acres via horseback, ATV, or jungle vehicle.

For driving directions consult your Oahu Trailblazer guidebook.

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Way Down South on the Big Island of Hawaii




The Hawaiian Archipelago—1,600 miles long and comprised of 130 islands–comes to an end at South Point, where the deep blue sea rolls for 2,500 miles southward before any land breaks its surface. This photo is looking north from the canoe ladders, modern renditions used by today's fishermen, following in the barefoot steps of ancestors from centuries past. Today's anglers are mindful of the Halalea Current off the point, named for the chief who was swept away here and never seen again.

The land (the east rift of Mauna Loa) slopes gently to the tippy tip of South Point, making for an easy stroll that passes the Kalaea Heiau (temple). A more popular walk from South Point is to wild Green Sand Beach, a 5-mile roundtrip excursion. Visitors with limited time may want to skip that one and check out the Kahuku Trailhead that is across the highway from the spur road that ends at South Point. Kahuku is the newest section of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. You'll find volcanic formations for sure, but green slopes and tropical forests are the main attraction at Kahuku.

Hawaii the Big Island Trailblazer has more details, beginning on page 117. 





Sunday, December 7, 2014

Kauai's Mahaulepu: A close-in getaway on the sunny south coast.

Mahaulepu (ma-ha-oo-lep-oo) is only two miles from the Grand Hyatt along the resort strip of Poipu Beach. But the two miles is via a dirt road that is one ghastly pothole, which dissuades most rental cars. And from the remote parking area, an unmarked trail extends for another mile, a route taken by few beachgoers. The takeaway: With deluxe hiking and snorkeling, Mahaulepu is among the top adventure attractions in Hawaii.


You can avoid the drive from the Hyatt by taking the 2.25-mile Mahaulepu Heritage Trail, which hugs the coast and passes the large remains of the ancient Ho'ouluia Heiau (temple). Whales and shorebirds enhance the scenery. The trail joins the parking area at Gillan's Beach (very good snorkeling) and continues over low-lying beach flora that is buffered by ironwood groves.


This unnamed cove is halfway from Mahaulepu to Haula Beach, a larger embayment that is just below the hill in the background of this picture. From Haula begins a rugged ascent into a the Haupu State Forest Reserve—where you get a bird's-eye view of private Kipu Kai Beach that was feature in the movie, The Descendants.

The rugged road to Mahulepu ends at Kawailoa Bay. The snorkeling and swimming in excellent. The endangered Hawaiian monk seals like to haul out here and sunbathe.  Let Kauai Trailblazer guide you there.



Monday, December 1, 2014

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