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Big Island Resort Offers Cultural ToursMay 25, 2011 By: Jena Tesse Fox
Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa recently began offering complimentary twice-weekly guided tours of the cultural preserve area adjacent to the 22-acre oceanfront Big Island resort. The guided tours are now offered in addition to self-guided tours of the area.
Culling through archives of cultural surveys conducted in the area years ago and utilizing the stories of Keauhou's local elders, the resort is able to provide explanations for many seemingly strange and random rock formations that line the Keauhou-Bay-side of resort grounds.
“We wanted to expand beyond the self guided tour offering which provides guests the flexibility to view the area at their leisure but may leave them with unanswered questions,” said Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa general manager George Reed. “By offering complimentary weekly guided tours guests can ask questions that my executive assistant Lily Dudoit, who did most of the research on the area and is the tour guide, is able to answer.”
Beginning at a storyboard in the cultural preserve area, Dudoit shares historical information relating to the birth at Keauhou Bay and reign of Kauikeaouli. Kauikeaouli became King Kamehameha III and ruled Hawaii from 1825 until his death in 1854. Stories about Heeia and Keauhou Bays, both seen from the storyboard’s location, are shared. A large platform nearby was most likely a Hawaiian fishing shrine within Heiau Kanikanikaula. Indented stones found in the area were used for collection of sea salt called paakai, a much sought after commodity of Keauhou in ancient times. Stacked stones found along the shoreline are remnants of a cattle pen, a canoe shed, and they form a platform where a home stood long ago. Dudoit concludes the guided tour with a chant, or `oli, as a way of giving thanks to the place for allowing her and the guests to be there. (Hawaiian tradition holds that you never go to someone’s home or place empty handed.)
Along the pathway within and beyond the cultural preserve area are signs which identify many of the exotic native and non-native plants that flourish at the resort, adding another educational dimension to the tour.
The free tours are offered each Tuesday and Thursday morning beginning at 9 a.m. and are available to the general public as well as hotel guests. The resort does prefer advance reservations for the tour which can be made by via the concierge at 808-930-4900.