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Hawaii (Big) Island
Article Source: Copyright © 2012 by Fodor’s Travel, a division of Random House Inc. All rights reserved.
The road between North Kohala and Waimea is one of the most scenic drives in Hawaii, passing Parker Ranch, open pastures, and tree-lined mountains. There are a few places to pull over and take in the view; the lookout at mile marker 8 provides a splendid vista of the Kohala Coast and Kawaihae Harbor far below. On clear days, you can see well beyond the resorts, while other times an eerie, thick mist drifts over the view.
Formerly Flumin' Da Ditch, this 2½-hour guided kayak cruise through an old irrigation ditch reveals a dramatic part of Kohala history. The tour begins with an off-road excursion high in the Kohala mountains, followed by a short hike to the ditch, where you'll paddle along with the guides through 2½ miles of rain forest, tunnels, and water flumes. The surrounding valleys provided water for the Kohala Ditch, which once brought water to the area's sugar plantations and transported crops out. The rate is $139 per adult. www.kohaladitchadventures.com. OPEN: No tours Sun.
A statue of Kamehameha the Great, the legendary king who united the Hawaiian islands, stands watch over his descendants in North Kohala. The 8½-foot-tall figure bears the king's sacred feather kihei, mahiole, and kaei (cape, helmet, and sash). This is the original of the statue in front of the Judiciary Building on King Street in Honolulu. Cast in Florence in 1880, it was lost at sea when the German ship transporting it sank near the Falkland Islands. A replica was then commissioned and shipped to Honolulu. Two years after its disappearence, the original statue was found in a junkyard in the Falkland Islands; it was missing an arm, which has since been replaced. This statue was transported to the remote northern tip of the Big Island, Kamehameha's birthplace: it's in front of the old Kohala Courthouse in Kapaau, next to the highway on the way towards Pololu Valley.
Buildings here have been restored to their original 1920s and '30s plantation styles. Although most shopping is along Kamehameha Avenue, the ambience on Keawe Street offers a nostalgic sampling of Hilo as it might have been 80 years ago.
After uniting the islands of Hawaii, King Kamehameha I spent his last years, from 1812 to 1819, in Kamakahonu, near what is now the Courtyard King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel. Formerly a 4-acre homestead, complete with several houses and religious sites, most of it has been swallowed by Kailua Pier. A replica of the temple, Ahuena Heiau, keeps history and culture alive.
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