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    Welcome to our InstantHawaii Mail Drop. We receive many EMail contacts every month asking a range of questions. From asking us to provide one of our pictures for a motorcycle decal, to raging debates about whether or not the Coqui frog is a good thing... the variety of questions is always surprising.

    Every now and then a question comes along to which we think the answer might be interesting to all our readers. This is the reason for this FAQ Mail Drop Page. When we get an interesting EMail we will now post excerpts for everyone's enjoyment. While we call this a FAQ (Frequently Asked Question) it is rather more like an IAQ (Interesting Asked Question).

    Since we are just beginning to record our IAQ EMails this section can be expected to grow, so check back frequently! New EMails will appear at the top.


    Q:Is there a tour or tour-group you recommend?
    A: While the island offers many tour companies to choose from (see table below for some of the larger companies), unless you have special accessability needs we usually don't recommend general tours, primarily because they don't afford you the time and luxury of discovering fantastic things about the island on your own. (The exception to this would be specality tours such as whale watching, etc).

    The best way to see Hawai'i, and the Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park specifically, is to rent a car and enjoy it! Print out pages from InstantHawaii and other sites of things to do (here, here, here, here, and here) and go find them!

    Car RentalsTour Companies
    David Ewing's Lava Hikes:808-315-2256
    Hawaii Forest & Trail:808-331-8505
    Hawaii Walkways:808-775-0372
    Jacks Tours:808-969-9507
    Ocean Eco Tours:808-324-7873
    Polynesian Adventure:808-329-8008
    Roberts Hawaii:808-966-5483

    Q:I thought there was only one green sand beach. Are there more?
    A: Yes, there are other green sand beaches and you can actually find green sand and peridot in rocks in various areas (just look for the green sparkles in the rocks).

    The green sand beach you are refering to is in South Point and is the most famous and best green sand beach by far... and more accessable (in some respects) than the others. Most of the other green sand beaches are less distant but require a 4-wheel vehicle for portions and are NOT walkable (see our review of Road To The Sea here). The green sand beach you are refering to, while requiring a 4-wheel vehicle to drive right up to it, is walkable (fairly nicely so in fact).

    One place you can find green sand without having to walk is down at South Point, at the place where you would begin walking to the big green sand beach. When you drive down to South Point, head to the boat ramp (you will go past the little visitors center and then go from bad pavement to dirt/sand which dead ends at the boat ramp - you will probably park near the visitors center as the dirt area can be rough.) As you are walking towards the boat ramp look at the fine sand and you will see lots of green (olive green) streaks... that is the green sand.

    To get to the famous green sand beach, once you get to the boat ramp (facing the ocean) look to your left and you will see a 4-wheel road that goes up and over a small bank - follow that road sticking near to the ocean until you go the 2.2 miles and get to the green sand beach.

    While you will be finding all sorts of green sand deposits along the way, it is mostly other sand and red ash. You will know when you get to the green sand beach because it is mostly green sand (a very olive color), and there will be other people and probably people swimming in the beaches bay. BRING LOTS OF WATER AS THE HIKE IS HOT AND DRY!

    If you go swimming, avoid all the small caves that dot the sides of the beach. The caves are very shallow and narrow and the current is extremely strong. The current will quickly suck you into the cave and over the sharp rocks and you will find it very difficult to escape.

    There are many other places to find peridot - including in the Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park where it can be found in many of the rocks on the various trails.

    Q:I just wanted to express myself toward the Kahuku Ranch viewing sites. Growing up on the ranch and seeing this was alot to take. I just hope that the natural beauty will be retained. To many it will be Hawaii's Natonal Park but to some it is home regardless of changes. More pictures and more facts would put an ease on us. We know its beauty but no longer am there. I hope to see this Kahuku Ranch article expanded.

    A couple of things about Kahuku Ranch... first... as of this email the ranch is off-limits while the park restores and makes their changes to the land. It is currently unclear when exactly it will be fully open to the public. The park currently offers occassional 'days' where the park is open so that people can see what is happening.

    As you remember, the ranch spans both the mauka (towards the mountain) and makai (towards the ocean) side of the highway. As far as we know, the park has ONLY purchased the mauka portion (with the makai side still owned by the ranch).

    Also... for a period of time (uncertain what) even the mauka side will continue as a partial-working ranch (when we visited there were many cattle and work-hands still there).

    I think that in general we would both agree that it is better for the park to have picked up the land, than a housing development. The park will at least try to maintain the natural beauty and historical significance of the property, whereas a housing development would pretty much destroy much of what you remember.

    We certainly intend to continue coverage of the ranch but will probably will not update the article until the park officially opens it.

    Q:Can you tell me where I can purchase 'put your favorite hawaiian plant here'
    A: We received the following actual EMail from a reader...
      Can you tell me where I can purchase the Cibotium frond, I would like to dry it and use it in my daughter's bridal bouquet. I would appreciate any help.

    Note To Readers: We receive alot of questions about obtaining plants from Hawai'i. We present to you our answer to the above question (which brought a smile to our face) - but it also applies to just about any other plant you want to take out of the islands:

    Cibotium encompases 4 types of ferns here in Hawai'i, the most common being the Hapu'u fern (Cibotium splendens). I know of no flower companies (or any other companies, for that matter) that would ship the fern out of Hawai'i.

    Both the plant and the frond, in the 'live' (not dried) condition would certainly not be legal to export out of the islands (since you can't have any plants leave the island except coconut, unless they have passed agriculture requirements while being raised and shipped).

    I do not know of any Hapu'u farms (it would be odd to have them in fact, since Hapu'u grow everywhere). The only farms that have Hapu'u are Anthurium farms as Anthurium are very fond of growing under Hapu'u.

    You do know, yes, that the Cibotium frond is HUGE (meaning, an adult frond that is fully unfurled) - from 3 feet to 20 feet in size depending on the fern type. Are you sure you're thinking of the right frond?

    My own Hapu'u garden in my back yard has about 20 or so Hapu'u, ALL of those are taller than I am (and I'm 6 foot), and very heavy (the frond, not me). I can easily stand under most of the fronds... so I'm having a bit of a hard time picturing them in a bridal bouquet :)

    Some things can be legally shipped pre-dried as the restrictions for export deal mainly with pest control.

    Q:What poisonous, if any, insects and animals inhabit Hawai'i?
    A: On land here, we have very few poisonous creatures. We do have scorpions, though I've never seen one (and you never hear of anyone getting stung).

    We do have bees (no africanized), wasps etc... and we do have fire ants starting to appear. There are a few poisonous spiders (very few actually) such as the brown recluse - again, almost never any news of anyone getting bit. We have big nasty centipeeds which can give a really painful bite - and those you do hear about.

    We do have Cane Toads and Giant Bufo Toads - which are not a worry per-say but they are bufo meaning that they excrete a toxin. For people, you would basically have to lick the toad to get the toxin, and it's rarely fatal (actually, 'toad licking' is a means for humans to get high... bufo toxin can induce a pleasant feeling, though I don't recommend trying it, and it is fatal in enough concentration). But dogs can die or get very sick if they lick or bite (if they don't die from it, it usually breaks them of the habit). The Cane Toad can be HUGE - up to the size of a football or basketball (though not as round).

    I understand that the Green Poison Dart Frog has been seen on some islands, but I've never seen one here on the Big Island.

    Other than an endimic snake called the Blind Snake, which is the size of a worm, blind, and does not bite at all, there are no land snakes in Hawaii (there are water snakes however).

    So as far as land goes, even with what I outlined above, the answer is "very little" as most people would rarely see any of the above with the exceptions of bees/wasps and the centipeed (unless your into licking toads).

    In the water however, it is a totally different story. The water is chock full of poisonous creatures. There are water snakes that are VERY poisonous, puffer fish, eels, actully - so much that there are a number of books that just cover what can hurt you in the water.

    Probably the #1 reported sting would be jellyfish, as that happens every month during certain portions of the lunar cycle (in that, jellyfish will come towards shore, increasing the likelyhood that you would encounter one). The jellyfish can be nearly transparent and dangle long thing nearly invisible lines with barbs that sting. The lines they dangle can go for many many feet (in big jellyfish, they may be trailing lines 8 or 10 feet long). Since they are nearly invisible and may be far from the actual jellyfish, you can easily swim into them and get stung.

    You can also get stung by stepping on the lines that have beached, even though the jellyfish is dead. The sting is similar to a bee sting and like a bee sting it keeps pumping toxins even after the initial sting. Unlike a bee, however, the lines have thousands of barbs, so you can get very many stings at once.

    Probably #2 would be the variety of anemone (spined slow moving creatures, like sea urchin, etc - the spines can be over a foot long and are like little daggers. while snorkling or scubaing the current can often push you accidently into one - or if your just standing in the water you could acciently step on a small urchin - ouch). On the up side however, sea urching eggs are delicious and are eaten in many cultures including Middle Eastern and Japanese (Japanese call it Uni - mmmmmm, one of my favorites). You can find it in just about any sushi resturant in the US.

    There are also a number of fish that are poisonous if eaten (or if eaten without preparing them properly).

    There is a GREAT book named "All Stings Considered - First Aid and Medical Treatment of Hawai'i's Marine Injuries" (actually 2 volumns). After reading it I didn't go near the ocean for months.

    You mention "insect and animals" - for which I included ocean critters... but you forgot Poisonous Plants... and Hawai'i has TONS. Since we have a issolated ecosystem many things have evolved here that are no other place in the world.

    Even common plants - like the mango, which we eat all the time, have a sap which is poisonous (will cause a rash if you get it on you, like a nettle rash)

    Castor Bean trees are everywhere, and are VERY poisonous (this is where Castor Oil comes from). Specifically, the seed of the Castor Bean are highly toxic (this is where the toxin Ricin comes from). This is so poisonous that just one chewed-up seed can kill an adult.

    Just as with the marine critters, there are a number of excellent books about poisonous plants in Hawai'i.

    Q:Where can I buy green sand from the Big Island?
    A: There is no place that we know of that would sell green sand. While there are lots of green sand deposits on the Big Island, there are no 'quarries' etc that would mine it.

    The islanders would also be quite against the notion as it would deplete the green sand beaches. (There are not that many green sand beaches worldwide so replacing it would be difficult).

    I'm certain that tourists take some back with them, but that would be small quantities.

    We've even received angry email from people just because of the photo on the website where we show filling a small bag with green sand. Though once we point out that the green sand never left the island they usually calm down.

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