The Kailua Village Business Improvement District is bringing history to life through modern technology.
The district is launching a free smartphone application, which will be available at month’s end, to enhance the public’s understanding and appreciation of the Royal Footsteps Along the Kona Coast, the state’s second Hawaii Scenic Byway.
The state Department of Transportation approved the district’s nomination and designated Alii Drive a Hawaii Scenic Byway in October 2010, Debbie Baker, the district’s executive director, said.
The application, called “Kona Royal Guide” or “Kona Royal Footsteps,” focuses on the roughly 7-mile-long Alii Drive, which offers seven centuries of archaeological, historic and cultural traditions, as well as more than two dozen points of interest, Baker said.
The district received $10,000 from Hawaii Tourism Authority and its County Product Enrichment Program to hire Nomad Mobile Guides Inc., to develop the program, Baker said. The Blacksburg, Va.-based company has created applications for the Grand Teton, Great Smoky Mountains and Yellowstone national parks; the city of Santa Cruz, Calif.; the Louisiana Crossroads; and New York City’s most peaceful places. It took roughly six months for the district’s application to be completed, she said.
Thanks to the district’s local byway committee, the application has a tremendous amount of historical information and photos, along with tidbits about area activities, ocean recreation, accommodations, dining, shoreline access and more. The committee draws upon the expertise of more than 25 cultural and civic organization members, stakeholders and community representatives. They were the ambassadors entrusted with helping tell the stories and specialness of Alii Drive for the application, Baker said.
Users who click on Hawaii Royal History in the application may, for example, choose to learn more about significant sites, heiau and history and culture. Discoveries such as where King Kamehameha I perfected his surfing skills are revealed. Care was taken to use Hawaiian place names at popular surf spots. There are also fun facts for all ages — the app notes that Tom Morey invented the first boogie board in 1971 at Waiaha Bay, commonly known as Honls surf spot.
“While we know that visitors to Historic Kailua Village will find the application extremely helpful when planning and then during their stay, we are also excited about the educational value of the application for residents and particularly for island students,” said district president Eric von Platen Luder.
Downloads of the free application will be available in online app stores by the end of February. Search for “Kona Royal Guide” or “Kona Royal Footsteps.” For more information, visit HistoricKailuaVillage.com.