The BIG Island of Hawai'i Part II: More Ancient Hawaiian Villages, Ranches, Coffee Plantations, and Beaches


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October 25th 2015
Published: November 2nd 2015
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25 October 2015 Sunday. As we had toured the Hamakua and Kona Coasts the previous two days (see previous blog), this left only the Kohala Coast to complete our overview of the Big Island. We had intended to attend services at the small chapel on the resort grounds, but no one called us at 6 AM on this day so we slept in. By 9 AM we were driving north along the coast...another beautiful day of blue skies and warm trade winds. Our first stop was the Pu'ukohole Heiau National Historic Site, which has the ruins of the last major ancient Hawaiian temple. The stones are said to come from the Pololu Valley; brought here using a human chain twenty five miles long. It was on this heiau (temple platform) that King Kamehameha sacrificed his rival, Keoua Kuahuula, as prophesied to achieve his goal of a united Hawaiian kingdom. We read about its history in the visitor center, then walked around the site which is on a promontory (called Whale Hill) that looks out over the Pacific Ocean.

We continued along the coast to Hawi/Kohala, the birthplace of King Kamehameha. The town saw its heyday when the surrounding area was covered with sugar cane plantations. It became and artist community and today, with the restoration of the historic main street, it is a thriving tourist town. We stopped for lunch and some shopping across the way from the Kohala Courthouse. In front of the court house we found the original statue of King Kamehameha...the statue in front of the Judiciary Building in Honolulu, familiar to those who watch Hawaii 50, is a copy. The original was cast in Florence and was lost at sea near the Falkland Islands. It was eventually found in a junk yard there and then returned here to his birthplace...strange but true. We continued on the Polulu Valley Overlook where we could see the black sand Pololu Beach. We looked at the steep, rocky trail down to the beach and what is supposed to be only an hour round trip hike and decided to gave it a pass.

We backtracked to Hawi/Kohala where we turned south along the very scenic Kohala Mountain Road to Waimea, otherwise known as paniolo or cowboy country. There are many towns named Waimea in Hawai'i. Since the U.S. Postal Service only allows one post office name per state, this Waimea is name Kamuela, Hawaiian for Samuel, the son of the founder of the huge Parker Ranch which used to cover half the island. The area is characterized by rolling verdant hills with large green pastures similar to the rolling terrain on the North Island of New Zealand around Hobbit town.

We returned to our resort about 3 PM and used the pools and just relaxed until dinner at Charlie's Thai at the Queens Shopping Center near our resort. Food at the resort is very expensive so this shopping center provided a relatively low cost alternative for eating. We then window shopped and discovered that the Island Gourmet store was really an ABC store with the same low prices. I bought a scallop shell to use on my Camino next year. I decided against the colorful Hawaiian variety as being to flashy for a pilgrim...now to drill a hole without cracking the shell.

26 October 2015 Monday. As we had seen most of the Big Island we decided to take a rest day by the pools and the beach. Our resort has multiple pools and I tried every one. Our resort also has a lot of feral cats. Visitor are requested not to feed them and a cat lover non-profit feeds them a special diet. They sure look fat and happy. I started reading Mark Twain's "Roughing It in the Sandwich Islands." He wrote about the ancestors of these cats: "I saw cats - Tomcats, Mary Ann cats, log-tailed cats, bob-tailed cats, blind cats, one eyed cats, wall-eyed cats, cross-eyed cats, grey cats, black cats, white cats, yellow cats, stripped cats, spotted cats, tame cats, wild cats, singed cats, individual cats, groups of cats, platoons of cats, companies of cats, regiments of cats, armies of cats, multitudes of cats, millions of cats, and all of them sleek, fat, lazy and sound asleep." I can vouch that Mark Twain has not exaggerated.

27 October 2015 Tuesday. We missed the sights around Kailua-Kona on Saturday, the day we drove to Puuhonua O Honaunau (City of Refuge) and Ka Lea (South Point), so decided to tour this area. We drove south along the Kohala Coast to the Koloko-Honokohau National Historic Park, between the airport and Kailua-Kona. This park shows how the first Hawaiian lived before their exposure to western explorers, starting with Captain Cook, followed by the whalers, missionaries, and the eventual flood of western civilization. The park shows how the inhabitants, despite the land being composed of mostly infertile lava flows, thrived off of fish raised and harvested in ponds. They traded fish for fruit from the upland inhabitants. The park has several preserved fish ponds, a white sand beach, stone walls, a heiau (temple), house platforms and petroglyphs. We met a volunteer ranger, a retired oil company executive who was a geologist, at the visitor center who took Linda and I on a long hike in the hot, humid mid day sun to see the petroglyphs and fish ponds. Fortunately, we had bought a large bottle of cold water at the visitor center or I wouldn't have made it. Lesson learned...if I am to prepare to walk the Camino next year, I have to include training in hot, humid weather which is scarce in Woodland Park, Colorado!

We turned the air conditioning on full blast and drove south to Annie's, which his reputed to serve the best hamburgers in Hawai'i. Ours certainly were delicious.

Just down the road from Annie's is the Greenwell Farm, located in a ahupauu, a pie shaped land defined by a valley from the narrow beginning in the high mountains and broadened out as it reached the low lands. Each valley had the advantage of having a steam. This was how land was divided in Hawaii. Greenwell Farm, founded in the 1850s, is primarily a Kona coffee plantation, but has many other kinds of tropical fruit...yes, coffee is a fruit. We took the twenty minute tour to see how coffee beans are grown, harvested (a continuous cycle over a seven month growing season), and processed. We then had an opportunity to purchase the final product...at $38 a pound we didn't buy much!

We followed the scenic route to the coast and north along Ali'i Drive through Kailua-Kona, where we stopped by the Moku' Aikaua Church, established in 1820 by Asa and Lucy Goodale Thurston, with approval from King Kamehameha II (King Kamehameha I died just before the arrival of the first missionaries), and on land provided by the governor. This was the first Christian church in Hawai'i. We also visited the Hulihe'e Palace, across the street, which was the residence of Hawaiian royalty and island governor. With this juxtaposition I couldn't help thinking of the movie "Hawaii" which portrays the early days of missionaries interactions with Hawaiian royalty.

We returned to our resort for some more pool time before going to the luau. The luau food was great and the hula dancing beautiful. My pictures don't do it justice...especially the fire dancers twirling their fire batons.

28 October 2015 Wednesday. Today was our last day, with our flight departing at 10:45 PM. We spent the morning relaxing. I finished reading Mark Twain's "Roughing It in the Sandwich Islands." After check out we had our final meal at Charlie's Thai while we decided what to see over the next ten hours. We had missed driving up Mauna Kea on Friday, the day we toured the Hamakua Coast and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park as it was after dark when we passed the road up the volcano, so we headed there. At the visitor center at 9000 feet we inquired about the road conditions to the very top at 13,796 feet. We were advised that unless we had a four wheel drive vehicle we shouldn't attempt it. I have no problem driving to the top of Pikes Peak at 14,110 feet and down, but I didn't know how to shift the rental car into second gear so the brakes wouldn't burn out for the drive down. So we drove down from 9000 feet which was still pretty exciting having to use the brakes a lot. But we made it and continued into Kailua-Kona to walk along Ali'i Drive to shop and try Hawaiian ice cream. We filled up our gas tank at Costco...a dollar per gallon less than gas stations in the area...and I ate my Thai food leftovers from lunch in their food court. Linda had a sausage McMuffin at the nearby McDonalds...ugh!!

We returned our rental car, advising them that we had difficulty locking the trunk, and were told that we needed to be at least fifteen feet away from the trunk for the remote lock to work...who knew! The airport is open air so was hot and humid. The six hour flight to Seattle was uneventful. Upon arrival we had to go from terminal C to terminal A, and then they changed the gate to terminal B...not fun catching multiple trains, etc...but beats Atlanta Hartsfield and Chicago O'Hare. The flight to Denver was fine. We caught the shuttle to the hotel where our car was parked, and then drove north to meet our daughter mid way between the airport and Fort Collins to pick up our dog Bonnie. She was delighted to see us, and has behaved well since bringing her home. It looks like we are going to have to take single vacations or take her along on future vacations as she can't live without us.

So that's it. We really enjoyed the Big Island as there are so many things to see and do besides swimming. Beaches are better on the other islands as they are older and have had time to convert lava and coral to sand. The Hilton Waikoloa Village resort was fantastic.


Additional photos below
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Ranch country near Waimea on North Kohala CoastRanch country near Waimea on North Kohala Coast
Ranch country near Waimea on North Kohala Coast

It looked like the North Island of New Zealand near Hobbittown
Our resort pool with waterfalls and grottoOur resort pool with waterfalls and grotto
Our resort pool with waterfalls and grotto

I swam under the falls to ride the really fun slide.
Feral cats at home at our resortFeral cats at home at our resort
Feral cats at home at our resort

Mark Twain commented extensively about the number of cats in Honolulu when he visited in 1866.


2nd November 2015

You're Busy Relaxing....
What a busy, but relaxing holiday. We lived on Oahu for 3 years and I made many trips to the Big Island for work. Our work place was at Upolu Point near Hawi. I have never seen stars so bright in my life. There were always whales playing in the ocean between the Big Island and Maui. Sometimes more than 50 could be seen. I stayed at the Waikoloa often as it was the closest hotel and our per diem covered the Kamaaina (local) rate. If I brought my kids, they loved the boats and waterfalls at the hotel. There was a little restaurant on the side of the road that had the best Thai Salad, I always tried to stop there. Sounds like you had a good, if busy time. That's the best kind of trip, I think!
2nd November 2015

Beauiful
It's a place I would love to visit . Maybe one day .
2nd November 2015
View from my lawn chair at our resort

This is the life!
Love this image of you sitting on this lawn chair reading Mark Twain's views on your paradise! How fabulous there's an historic park that explained how the original Hawaiians lived! You needn't worry about hot, humid weather on the Camino--hot yes, but not humid. However, with all the walking, for sure, you'll want lots of water. And wow--that water at your resort was incredible--glad you took time to sample all those pools!
2nd November 2015
Petroglyphs at Kaloko-Honokuhau National Historic Park

My choice
I like petroglyphs so I pick this as my favourite photo. Hawaii is a place I'd love to visit one day. A bit far from where I live though so it will probably take a few years before I get the chance. /Ake
7th November 2015

The winds
We love the winds in Hawaii! Enjoy reading Twain...sounds perfect for that location. Hope you and Linda enjoyed the Hula.... eager to hear more

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