Finding Hawaiian History and "Little Switzerland"

Trip Start Dec 27, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Hawaii
Wednesday, December 26, 2007

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North to Switzerland

Today's drive would take us north of Kailua-Kona along the Kohala Coast to North Kohala .
If on Christmas Day we went to South Point, the area of North Kohala would have to be described as "North Point", although there is no such name on the map.
Unlike South Point, where there was a dirt road that led right to the point, there is no similar road to Upolo Point which is the northernmost point of the island.
Nevertheless we were eager to explore on this sunny day and our first stop was the much touted Seahorse Farm just north of Kailua-Kona on Highway 19. It billed itself as the only seahorse farm in the U.S. I guess the one I seem to remember in Key West went out of business.
Our eagerness to see these curious little creatures was considerably diminished when we found out that the next tour was in one hour and the price of entry was $35 per person. Now let's see, $35 per person; that would make for a lovely dinner after the "paseo" in Kailua-Kona tonight - no contest.
Undaunted, we pushed further north, enjoying the sunshine and beautiful view of the azure blue Pacific Ocean to our left.
About 30 miles north of Kailua-Kona we stopped at Puukohola Heiau - A National Historic Site.
This is one of the most significant "heiaus" temple sites in Hawaii . It was built some 200 years ago by King Kamehameha, as part of his successful effort to unite the Hawaiian Islands .
The "heiau" was an integral component of the Hawaiian social, political and religious system.
There is a lot of anticipation in coming here as the thought of ancient temples conjures up images of "Indiana Jones" and other adventurers falling upon secret chambers filled with poisonous vipers.
Unfortunately Puukohola Heiau does not deliver. It is physically low to the ground, rising only to what could be described as a modest grassy knoll and it is difficult to restrain an "is-this-all" reaction. The final nail in the coffin so to speak is that most of the site is regarded as sacred ground and therefore cannot be entered.
These insensitive comments are made from the viewpoint of the neophyte traveler to Hawaii who is seeking to be stimulated by travel adventure in the form of impressive scenery. On a more serious note, I am sure the site has special and profound meaning to the Hawaiian people. Sometimes, as a visitor, it is hard to catch this sentiment.
What is interesting however are the nearby exhibits which outline the struggle in which Kamehameha rose to the top to become the ultimate leader of the Hawaiian Islands . As Kamehameha I, he was the first monarch of the Hawaiian royal family.
Shortly after leaving Puukohola Heiau, Highway 19 continues inland to the town of Waimea while the road north along the coast becomes Highway No. 270.
In the hamlet of Hawi, located near the northernmost point of Big Island , we headed south towards Waimea on Highway 250.
This has to be one of the most pleasant stretches of ridge driving in Hawaii . My immediate reaction was "this looks just like Switzerland ".
As I said this, I did not have the Alps in mind but some of the less mountainous regions of Switzerland such as the area between Schaffhausen , Germany and Zurich , Switzerland . It is a land of lush green rolling hills with beautiful vistas towards lakes and of course the trademark cows producing chocolate, or is it milk?
Suffice it to say that we were stunned by the beautiful scenery and in awe of the diversity of landscapes on the Big Island . By now we were in love with this island.
I make this statement without even having seen the most impressive part and that was to come tomorrow.
Having said that, on our way back to Kailua-Kona via Waimea, we did get a preview of what was to come. Looming before us was the awesome sight of the highest point in the Hawaiian Islands - Mauna Kea . Patches of clear sky provided fleeting glimpses of the peak that we would try and "climb" tomorrow, that is, if everything went right.
Coming Soon:
Mona Kea: Life at 13,000 feet

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