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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 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.
A fun place for a stroll, this little town is reminiscent of the Wild West, with its wooden boardwalks and vintage buildings—not to mention a reputation as a pot-growers' haven. A throwback to the '60s, it attracts plenty of hippies and other colorful characters pursuing alternative lifestyles. The secondhand stores, tie-dye clothing boutiques, and art galleries add to the "trippy" experience. Pahoa's main street boasts a handful of island eateries, the best of which is Luquin's Mexican Restaurant.
About 16 mi east of Naalehu, beyond Punaluu Beach Park, Highway 11 sidesteps this little town. You'll miss it if you blink. Pahala is a perfect example of a sugar-plantation town. Behind it, along a wide cane road, you enter Wood Valley, once a prosperous community, now just a road heavily scented by eucalyptus trees, coffee blossoms, and night-blooming jasmine.
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