"Hawaii--Finding solitude on the Big Island"

.. By Joe Hilbers

After touring Hilo and environs with a rather large group of other writers it was time to do some exploring alone. So equipped with a Budget Rental car that still smelled new, this writer was on his way over Highway 19 to Waimea/Kohala junction and Highway 190 to Kailua Kona on the west coast of the Big Island.

It was late Fall and the summer tourists were gone and the winter snow birds still a few months away. Once nicely situated and headquartered at King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Resort we s

A few destinations were already on the agenda. After seeing the PBS series on Captain Cook's explorations we wanted to visit Napoopoo on Kealakekua Bay where he was killed and where a Monument now stands. Also from Hilo we had made a short excursion into the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park but time was short and we had little more than a quick orientation from a Ranger. On my own I wanted to do more.

Hawaii, The Big Island, is just that. It has more land mass than all the other Islands put together. By the time my trip of exploration was finished I put over 700 miles on the rental car.

One afternoon I wandered around Kailua Kona looking over the small boat harbor and Kailua pier where I watched a Marlin fisherman pose for the traditional photo with his huge catch. With just as much interest a group of tourists, each couple in matching Muu Muu's and Hawaiian shirts.

However the next morning I got an early start on Hawaii highway 11 which took me south to where the Captain Cook Monument stands. I could only see it from a distance and was told that access to the exact spot should be made by boat.

Further along the highway I stopped at Puuhonua O Honaunau National Historic Park. For the original Hawaiians this was a sacred sanctuary that provided protection to defeated warriors and other wrong doers. Once inside they would be forgiven by the Priests and given a second chance.

After that it was a long lonesome drive on Highway 11 also called the Mamalahoa Highway. At one point a secondary road, called the South Point Road, takes you to Ka Lae, which is the most southerly piece of ground in the U.S.

It is a spectacular place, visited most often by local fishermen since the lava cliffs there drop straight into the Pacific Ocean. Also a place to walk gingerly since there are lava fissures where one can look down to the ocean below. Here I spent some time talking to local fishermen about what they catch and what bait, etc.; fishermen always have something to talk about.

Once back on Highway 11 it was time for some refreshment and a look at the black sand beach at Punaluu and its Beach Park. All of this area is on the slopes of Mauna Loa, the largest single mountain mass in the world.

Then continuing on Highway 11 to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The Park will be the subject of a separate story as part of Vittles series on National Parks.

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Last Update:6/9/02

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