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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 definition of "quaint" with its crisp white and blue trim, this tiny old-fashioned steeple church sits on the rocks overlooking the ocean near Kahaluu Beach. It has appeared on many a Kailua-Kona postcard, and its charm and views bring hundreds of visitors every year.
The site of Kona's first Catholic church, built in 1840, is marked by a small thatch structure to the left of the present church, which dates from 1850. In front of the church a coral grotto shrine holds 2,500 coral heads, harvested in 1940, when preservation was not yet an issue.
The walls, columns, and ceiling of this Roman Catholic church depict colorful biblical scenes through the paintbrush of Belgian-born priest Father Velghe. Mass is still held every weekend. The view of Kealakekua Bay from the entrance is amazing. www.thepaintedchurch.org.
Erected as a general store in 1912 by Sadanosuke Hata and his family, this historic structure now houses galleries, a restaurant, and the Mokupapapa Discovery Center. During World War II Hata family members were interned and the building was confiscated by the U.S. government. When the war was over, a daughter repurchased it for $100,000. A beautiful example of Renaissance-revival architecture, it won an award from the state for the authenticity of its restoration.
In 1790 a prophet told King Kamehameha to build a heiau on top of Puukohola (Hill of the Whale) and dedicate it to the war god Kukailimoku by sacrificing his principal rival, Keoua Kuahuula. By doing so the king would achieve his goal of conquering the Hawaiian Islands. The prophecy came true in 1810. This oceanfront historic site is very impressive. A short walk over arid landscape leads from the recently renovated visitor center to temples Puukohola Heiau and Mailekini Heiau. An even older temple, dedicated to the shark gods, lies submerged just offshore. Visitors can enjoy seasonal whale-watching and year-round shark-viewing at the bay. Special events happen throughout the year so check the calendar. Bring along your phone to listen to a free audio tour while you visit the site. www.nps.gov/puhe/index.htm. COST: Free. OPEN: Daily 7:45--4:45.
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