Category Archives: Activities

Waialea beach

A beach at Waialea County Park, Hawaii

Waialea is also known as Beach 69, which is the number of a utility pole at the entrance to this county park. The beach in this photo is one of several there. Unlike many other beaches in this area, Waialea is backed by lots of trees, so there are many shady places.

It used to be a favorite place of mine to snorkel, but the bleaching events of 2014 and 2015 wreaked major damage on the coral. The last couple of times I’ve been snorkeling there I’ve found it a bit depressing, though there are still a fair number of fish and often turtles to be seen. But if you like lounging on beaches interspersed with the occasional dip in the water then this might be the place for you.

A walk around Kiholo Bay

Kiholo Bay sits midway between Kailua Kona and Kawaihae on the west side of the Big Island. There are two main access points to the bay. One is via a gravel road south of the Kiholo Scenic Overlook on the main highway. This road takes you down to Kiholo State Park Reserve where there’s a campground and access to the beaches. I usually go that way, but on my last visit I wanted to try the hike from the main road.

There’s an unmarked parking area north of the scenic overlook. From there it’s about a mile to the coast, along a dirt and gravel road. This passes through scrubby trees where it’s likely goats will be encountered. They’re abundant in this area. The private property alongside the road is well marked, as is the public trail through to the beach. This trail comes out near a funky building decorated with things the tide washed in.

I headed to the right, along the beach towards Wainanali’i lagoon. There are a couple of houses along here, a palm-circled pool, and usually a canoe or two under the trees. Beyond the houses, a small bridge traverses a channel which connects the ocean to Wainanali’i fish pond. This is believed to have been built by King Kamehameha I, as part of an extensive fish collection and farming operation in the bay.

A bit farther along, a blue Kiholo Bay Fisheries Management Area sign marks where the trail forks. To the right, inland, it follows the old King’s Trail to Keawaiki. To the left, it hugs the shoreline heading north alongside Wainanali’i lagoon (top photo). The trail is loosely marked with white coral and/or cairns, but it’s not vital to follow them. I stick to the shoreline.

The lagoon is the remnant of a much larger fishpond, which was around 2 miles across and protected by a 20-foot wide lava rock wall. Much of it was destroyed by a lava flow from Mauna Loa’s 1859 eruption. Today, the lagoon is a prime area for seeing green turtles. They haul out on a rocky island marking the mouth of the lagoon and on the spit that separates it from the ocean. This is where they rest so it’s important not to get too close and disturb them. I also usually see turtles in the water. They putter along the edge in blue-green water, which can give them a wavy appearance. Small fish are abundant here and are often seen.

Once at the head of the lagoon I watched humpback whales splashing and slapping offshore. It’s possible to walk down the spit (not disturbing the turtles), and if it’s calm you can wade or swim across the lagoon entrance back to the trail. Following the coast northwards will take you to Keawaiki, but I retraced my steps until I got back to where I first reached the coast. Then I carried on along the beach.

The waves were rolling in, good news for surfers. The beach here is sandy and vegetation borders it. If the tide’s in a bit of paddling is required. On the other side of this, some private houses border the beach including the Bali House and a sprawling, yellow structure.

Farther along, behind the beach, is Keanalele waterhole, also known as Queen’s Bath. This is a collapsed lava tube, filled with a mix of freshwater and saltwater, where it’s possible to take a dip in the manor of Hawaiian royalty of yesteryear. The parking area for Kiholo State Park Reserve, back in the trees, is followed by the Loretta Lynn house and the campground.

Here, along with several places along the walk, a fair number of birds can be seen including black-crowned night herons, wandering tattlers, Pacific golden plovers, yellow-billed cardinals, and northern mockingbirds.

The southern end of the park is marked by Waia’elepi anchialine pool. Anchialine pools form in volcanic rock and are connected underground to the ocean. The water is brackish, but the pools can be home to a wide variety of species. I saw goats drinking here as well as a variety of birds and insects flying about.

From there, I headed back to the car on the gravel road which parallels the coast and connects to the trail I came down on. My walk was about 5 or 6 miles, but I took more than 4 hours to cover that distance since I do tend to stop a lot!

For more walks worldwide, see Jo’s Monday Walks. Also posted in response to the current Friendly Friday challenge theme of ‘On The Way.’ See more responses here.

Stoic reef lizardfish

When I go snorkeling, until I get in the water I never know what the visibility will be like, what I’ll see, and whether I’ll have any photo opportunities. I usually swim for about an hour or so and in that time I could take 40 photos or none at all.

On this day, I’d taken maybe two photos. I was in the process of taking my fins off and getting out of the water when I glanced down and saw this reef lizardfish just off to the side of the ladder. I had one fin on and one off as some moderate swell rolled in, so I hung on to the ladder with one hand as I ducked my head under and snapped some photos. Despite my ungainly thrashing around, the lizardfish remained planted on the bottom, possibly relieved when I finally got my act together and lugged myself out of the water.

Wandering along with a wandering tattler

When I was down at Kiholo recently, I saw this wandering tattler at the shoreline, hunting around for a bite to eat. I followed it for a while, from a distance.

It snagged a katydid at one point (second photo), but I didn’t see it catch anything else. It spent a fair amount of time around one particular rock (third photo), which caused a good deal of consternation for the a’ama crab that was there. I think the crab was a bit too big to fall into the category of prey for this particular bird.

Loretta Lynn house at Kiholo

A couple of weeks ago, in her Squares challenge, Becky posted about a set of semi-circular steps here. That same day, I went for a walk down at Kiholo and took these photos of a similar set of steps there. These steps, though, don’t go anywhere, at least not right now.

The steps used to connect to the house, which was built by (or more accurately, for) country singer, Loretta Lynn. But the house hasn’t been used in many years. In 1999, a landowner in the area bought it, and he subsequently traded it to the state for some land behind his property, where he wanted to build a caretaker’s house. He didn’t get as much land as he wanted because the state considered the house, not just worthless, but also a liability, because it had no water, electricity, or sewer connections. Since then, the house has sat empty.

More recently, Hui Aloha Kīholo, a non-profit organization with the goal of protecting and perpetuating the natural and cultural resources at Kīholo Bay, has reached agreement with the state to take over the house for use as its headquarters. The group hoped to raise the funds to start work on restoring the house in 2020, but we all know what happened to everyone’s plans last year. Perhaps, in the none too distant future, those steps will be reunited with the house, and it will come to life again. It’s certainly a wonderful location.

For more information about Hui Aloha Kīholo, go to https://www.huialohakiholo.org/.
For an article about the organization and its plans for the house, go to https://www.konacoffeeandtea.com/blog/hui-aloha-kiholo-giving-tuesday.

Up in the air at Upolu

Skydivers over the Big Island, Hawaii
Skydivers over the Big Island, Hawaii

The skydiving business, operating out of Upolu Airport, was busy during the holidays. A typical flight deploys a pair of tandem skydivers, where a paying customer is attached to an experienced skydiver.

I was out walking when these people jumped out of the plane. After the chutes opened they maneuvered around before landing back at the airport. The lower picture is a composite of three photos, giving an idea of how they spiraled down.

Posted in response to Becky’s January Squares challenge theme of ‘Up.’ See more responses here.