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Hawaii (Big) Island
Article Source: Copyright © 2012 by Fodor’s Travel, a division of Random House Inc. All rights reserved.
This stone platform was once an impressive temple dedicated to the god Lono. When Captain Cook arrived in 1778, ceremonies in his honor were held here.
This church was originally constructed in 1859 by New England missionaries, but the church steeple was rebuilt in 1979 following a fire. The church is known for its choir, which sings hymns in Hawaiian during services.
Established in 1850, the homestead of Henry N. Greenwell served as cattle ranch, sheep station, store, post office, and family home all in one. Now, all that remains is the 1875 stone structure, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It houses a fascinating museum that has exhibits on ranching and coffee farming. It's also headquarters for the Kona Historical Society, which organizes walking tours of Kailua-Kona. www.konahistorical.org. COST: $7. OPEN: Mon.--Thurs. 10--2.
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.
The largest shopping complex on the Kohala Coast, Queens' MarketPlace houses several clothing shops, two jewelry stores, two galleries, several gift shops, a food court, and a few restaurants, including Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar and Romano's Macaroni Grill. Island Gourmet Markets and Starbucks are also here. The marketplace sits adjacent to a performing arts amphitheater. www.queensmarketplace.net.
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.
This acclaimed boutique sells distinctive island wearables with bold colors and motifs designed by the legendary Sig Zane, well-known for his artwork honoring native flora and fauna. All apparel is handcrafted in Hawaii and is often seen being worn by celebrities. www.sigzane.com.