The Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce was looking for something new for this year’s Earth and Ocean Festival, the annual Earth Day themed celebration taking place Saturday at the Makaeo Events Pavilion.
The festival already offers music and informative presentation, but this year, attendees also have the chance to participate in one or more educational tours.
The tours “not only educate visitors, but remind people who live here what we have,” Chamber President Vivian Landrum said. “It reminds us what a unique place we live in.”
Add in the context of the festival, with its focus on renewable energy, recycling and conservation, and the tours also help kamaaina and visitors understand the importance of protecting the island and its natural beauty.
Warm up Saturday with a 9 a.m. guided walk around the Makaeo walking path. Guides will identify the many varieties of plants, trees and flowers, many of which are indigenous species, Landrum said.
Two tours, one departing at 10 a.m., the other at 1 p.m., will take festival attendees to a home in the Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary in North Kona. Landrum said horticulturalist and West Hawaii Today plant columnist Norman Bezona is opening his property there for two exclusive tours. The tours will give attendees a chance to walk among native plants, flowers and ferns and learn about them. Each two-hour tour is limited to 14 people, who must be at least 8 years old. Registration for this tour is required, and the cost is $10 per person.
The Kohala Center is offering three tours along the Makaeo shoreline, with the center’s Marine Science Specialist Matthew Connelly talking about coral reef ecology, the relationship between fish, corals and other reef animals and how to take care of the reef. The tours meet at the Kahaluu Bay Education Center’s booth at 9:30 and 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
The tour Landrum is particularly excited about is a narrated trip along Alii Drive, using a script created from the Kailua Village Business Improvement District’s “Royal Footsteps Along the Kona Coast” app. This van tour will give attendees information about historic and cultural points along the Kona Coast, from Ahuena Heiau to Kamehameha III’s birth site in Keauhou.
Landrum, who has lived in Kona for 26 years, said the app, which can be downloaded for free, taught her new things about Kona’s importance in Hawaiian history.
For example, she said, there is a holua slide that can be seen from Alii Drive near Keauhou. It’s very visible, she said, but too often, “we just don’t look up.”
Another site, Pa o Umi, or Umi Point, in Kailua Bay, “is like Plymouth Rock for Hawaii.”
According to the app, Pa o Umi is a small point of land located at the bay’s center, marking the location of the landing and residential spot of Umi, who moved the island’s royal court from Waipio to Kailua sometime in the late 15th or early 16th centuries.
These tours are limited to 14 passengers, who must be at least 8 years old. Attendees must register and the cost is $10.
Finally, the Friends of NELHA are offering tours about and through the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority. The tours meet at the Gateway Visitor Center and begin at 10:30 a.m. and noon. The cost is $10.
To register for tours, go to kona-kohala.com.
Presentations for the day include an update on manta rays, by Keller Laros of the Manta Pacific Research Foundation at 10:30 a.m., an update on the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ The Rain Follows the Forest initiative at 11:30 a.m., a look at the impact of Japanese tsunami debris on Hawaii at 12:30 p.m. and a climate reality talk by Susan Cox at 1:30 p.m. Cox attended a Climate Reality Project training. The Climate Reality Project is an initiative by former Vice President Al Gore.
Entertainment on the indoor stage includes two hula halau, the Hiccup Circus, recording artist Sahra Indio, also known as Aunty Reggae, Na Hoku Hanohano winner and Grammy nominee Weldon Kekauoha and a talk story with Aunty Maile Spencer Napoleon.