Category Archives: Hawaiian History

Milo flowers

The milo tree (Thespesia populnea) is a canoe plant, brought to Hawaii by the early Polynesians, though it was probably already here before then and so is considered indigenous.

The flowers, which don’t open fully, start out a delicate yellow with red patches at the base, becoming dark pink later. The flowers are followed by green seed capsules which dry to brown.

Signs: Scalding steam

I was rather taken by the vivid graphic on this sign alongside the Sulphur Banks Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. But it illustrates an incident from 1996 when a 10-year-old boy wandered off the trail and his foot went through the crust into a steaming vent leaving him with serious burns. That small, dark hole in the upper left of the photo is one such vent and it was busily steaming away while I read the gory details.

For more information about Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, go to nps.gov/havo/.

As time goes by

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Weathered.’ See more responses here.

In the top photo, a dead tree on the lower slopes on Mauna Kea, stretches weathered branches toward the sky.

Second photo: Petroglyphs in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park have been weathered by years of sun and rain, but are still clearly visible.

Third photo: A cattle ranch alongside old Saddle Road includes this old structure bordering a stockyard.

Bottom photo: Butterflies have a short lifespan, but in that time they can go from looking boldly marked and colored to very faded, with some looking like it’s a miracle they can fly at all.

For more information about Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, go to nps.gov/havo/.

Water inlet

Behind the beach at Anaeho’omalu Bay are two fishponds, Kahapapa and Ku’uali’i. These ponds are typical of the kind that form behind a beach, which protects them from the ocean waves. The ponds are connected to the ocean by this channel, which allows was to come and go with the tides. A sluice gate was used to prevent fish using the channel as an escape route.

Where natural ponds weren’t available, they were created by enclosing areas with rock walls. I featured one such fishpond here.

In Hawaiian history, fishponds were very important. In such an isolated community it was important to have reliable food supplies. The ponds provided this, supplementing fish caught in the ocean. Many ponds have disappeared due to development, volcanic activity, tsunami, and the like. But the ones that survive are a bit of living history, used now more for education than for food.

For more information about Hawaiian fishponds go here.

Place of Refuge and Two Step

There’s a good variety of fish at Two Step including raccoon butterflyfishes, seen here mingling with goatfishes and yellow tangs.
A barred filefish swims by with a startled look on its face, which is just their usual look.
Ki’i at Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, better known as Place of Refuge.

This week’s Friendly Friday challenge theme is ‘Anniversaries.’ See more responses here.

Often, on our wedding anniversary, my wife and I go to Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve and Garden (formerly Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden). This year the garden was shut, and still is, probably until tourists return to the islands. So a different anniversary is my birthday, which is not marked with candles on a cake, since that would be prohibitively expensive, but usually by a trip somewhere and a meal out. This year we went down to snorkel at Two Step and then had a wander around Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, otherwise known as Place of Refuge, which is right next door.

Two Step is a very popular snorkeling spot on Honaunau Bay, south of Captain Cook. This is a marine reserve so no fishing is allowed and the fish tend to be more numerous and mellow because of this. It’s a popular spot to see and swim with dolphins, though I haven’t done either of those things there. Currently, it’s not nearly as busy since there are very few tourists on the island and those that are here are diligently following quarantine rules (I’m trying to keep a straight face writing this!).

After our swim we made the short walk to Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park. The park is on the south side of the bay and, at the moment, is fully open only on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. However, on the other days, pretty much everything else is accessible, it’s just that the parking lot and visitor center are closed. What this means is that there’s basically nobody there so our visit was quiet and uncrowded. The park is an important place in Hawaiian history, and the location is beautiful. What’s not to like?

For more information about Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, visit https://www.nps.gov/puho/index.htm.

Palm trees reflect in one of the fishponds at Place of Refuge.

Goats at the watering hole

A recent visit to Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, otherwise known as Place of Refuge, included this encounter with a herd of goats. The goats were passing through and stopped to get a morning drink in the ponds. These anchialine ponds are connected to the nearby ocean through underground channels. Because of this, the levels of water in the ponds vary with the tides.

In the ponds, fresher water floats on top of saltwater from the ocean, which is why they’re a good watering hole for the goats. Back in the days when Hawaiian royalty lived on these grounds, the ponds were used to hold fish for future consumption by those living here.

For more information about Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, visit https://www.nps.gov/puho/index.htm.

Kilauea Military Camp

This is a view across Chain of Craters Road, in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, toward the flagpole and entrance of Kilauea Military Camp. The camp was founded in 1916, the same year as the park, as a rest and relaxation facility for military personnel. Today, it continues to fill that same function though the facilities are somewhat nicer than they were back then. There’s an array of cottages, a store, theater, sports facilities, gas station, laundromat, even a bowling alley.

While it’s been an R&R post for most of its existence, during WWII it was used as a prisoner of war camp and as a Japanese internment camp.

For more information about Kilauea Military Camp, go to https://www.kilaueamilitarycamp.com/. For more information about Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, go to nps.gov/havo/.

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