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Hawaii (Big) Island
Article Source: Copyright © 2012 by Fodor’s Travel, a division of Random House Inc. All rights reserved.
No one knows for sure what happened on February 14, 1779, when English explorer Captain James Cook was killed on this spot. He had chosen Kealakekua Bay as a landing place in November 1778. Cook, arriving during the celebration of Makahiki, the harvest season, was welcomed at first. Some Hawaiians saw him as an incarnation of the god Lono. Cook's party sailed away in February 1779, but a freak storm forced his damaged ship back to Kealakekua Bay. Believing that no god could be thwarted by a mere rainstorm, the Hawaiians were not so welcoming this time, and various confrontations arose between them and Cook's sailors. The theft of a longboat brought Cook and an armed party ashore to reclaim it. One thing led to another: shots were fired, daggers and spears were thrown, and Captain Cook fell, mortally wounded.
The more than 50 enormous banyan trees with aerial roots dangling from their limbs were planted some 60 to 70 years ago by visiting celebrities. You'll find such names as Amelia Earhart and Franklin Delano Roosevelt on plaques affixed to the trees. downtownhilo.com.
Arnott's Mauna Kea summit tour focuses more on the experience of the mountain than on astronomy. Guides use laser lights to provide an informative lesson on major celestial objects and Polynesian navigational stars. The excursion departs from Hilo and costs $180 per person, including parkas and hot beverages. The outfitter also offers lava and waterfall tours. www.arnottslodge.com.
Just off Highway 11 on the way to Volcano, this small gallery and studio has unique, handblown glass inspired by the eruption of Kilauea. See the artist in action by appointment. OPEN: Thurs.--Mon. 10--4, or by appointment.
This hole-in-the-wall confections shop has made a name for itself thanks to its pillowy mochi (Japanese rice pounded into a sticky paste and molded into shapes). The proprietors are best known for their huge ripe strawberries wrapped in a white mochi covering. These won't last as long as a box of chocolates—most mochi items are only good for two or three days. To guarantee you get your fill, call and place your order ahead of time.
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