Category Archives: Hawaiian History

A good walk spoiled

The signature third hole at Mauna Kea Golf Course

There’s an old saying that golf is a good walk spoiled. It’s often attributed to Mark Twain, though that’s probably not accurate. There’s an interesting investigation into the saying’s roots here.

The Mauna Kea Golf Course was designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. in 1964 and its signature hole is the third. From the championship tee, which is where the top photo was taken, this doesn’t look like a hole that has much to do with walking. Swimming looks a more likely activity.

There’s a little marker in this tee box that shows the hole is 272 yards long, but other tees offer shorter options. Next to the tee box is a plaque noting the illustrious golfers who played at the course’s opening. And the bottom photo shows the green that a golfer would use in the unlikely event that their ball reaches it.

I’ve spoken to a couple of people who’ve hit balls from the championship tee, mostly for the pleasure of being able to say they did so. Both hit their ball into the ocean. I’d probably do the same, though there’s also a good chance my shot from there wouldn’t even reach the water!

Posted for Becky’s Squares theme of “Walking” (See more responses here).

The green at the signature third hole at Mauna Kea Golf Course

A new route up Pu’u Wa’a Wa’a

A view of PuuWaaWaa, Hawaii
Williwilli flowers at PuuWaaWaa, Hawaii

Pu’u Wa’a Wa’a is a cinder cone on the slopes of Hualalai volcano. The name means “many-furrowed hill,” and it’s a place I like to walk at least once a year, but it had been a while since I was up there. Usually, I go there in the spring when Jacarandas and other flowers are blooming. I also try to go in the early morning, since the area tends to cloud up during the day and the wonderful views become obscured.

A couple of weeks ago I made a late decision to do the hike again since the weather looked unusually good. I got there around 2pm and it will come as no surprise that I spent the first 15 minutes of the hike taking photos of Williwilli flowers on a tree about 20 feet from where I parked! (More of those in a few days.)

Silk oak flowers at PuuWaaWaa, Hawaii

The trail follows an old road up the hill past Silk Oak trees, at the tail end of their flowering and sporting a deep red hue I hadn’t seen before. Turn around, and there are good views of Maui to be had. The old road peters out near an old blockhouse, now lacking doors and windows, which offers shelter to livestock on the ranch here. Off to one side is an old quarry, which cuts into the side of the hill. Usually there are goats in this area, but I didn’t see any on this day. Farther up is what’s left of Tamaki Corral, which dates back around 100 years.

Not far after the corral, the trail climbs steeply toward the top. This was where I found a change in the trail. Whereas before the trail was an out-and-back up a steep slope to the top, now a loop has been created. I took this new option to the top where, on this remarkably clear late afternoon, I had great views of Maui, Kohala Mountain, Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, and Hualalai. A new sign at the top welcomes hikers to the nearly 4,000 foot summit, and there’s a survey marker at the top riddled with holes, not from gunfire, but to let the wind blow through. There are also a couple of benches where one can sit a while enjoying the views (weather permitting). The hike is steep in places, but not difficult, though not everyone makes it back alive!

I followed the old trail back down and ran into several sheep, which have the run of the land up here, as the sun dipped behind the ridge.

One other difference I noticed with this afternoon hike was the proliferation of birds. There were large numbers of finches, mostly Saffron Finches flitting about, preparing to roost for the evening. Yellow-fronted Canaries were all over the tree tobacco flowers. I also saw, and heard, several Erckel’s Francolins doing their usual fine job of blending in with the vegetation.

And as I walked back down the hill towards my car, the late afternoon sun still shone, illuminating grasses alongside the trail.

Grasses on PuuWaaWaa, Hawaii

Posted for Jo’s Monday Walk. See more walks here.

EV Nautilus

The NOAA EV Nautilus off the coast of Hawaii
The NOAA EV Nautilus off the coast of Hawaii

I saw this ship off the coast of North Kohala, but couldn’t immediately identify it because it was too far offshore. Luckily, it hung around and a couple of days later I saw it much closer and stopped to take photos.

The ship is the Nautilus and it’s an exploration vessel operated by the Ocean Exploration Trust and was engaged in research, sponsored by the National Geographic Society. They were studying marine mammal vocalization and local shark diversity and abundance around Hawaii.

For more information about the ship, go to https://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/technology/vessels/nautilus/nautilus.html. For more information about the research project, go to https://nautiluslive.org/.

The NOAA EV Nautilus off the coast of Hawaii

Signs: Shark sighted

A sign on a beach at Kawaihae, Hawaii

This sign stands behind the little beach below Puʻukoholā Heiau at Kawaihae. Typically, When a shark is sighted, a temporary warning sign is put up, then removed after a few days. This sign is permanent. The reason for this is that beyond this beach is Pelekane Bay and that’s the site of an underwater heiau dedicated to sharks.

This heiau, called Hale o Kapuni, was built by a chief for whom sharks were considered carriers of the spirits of his ancestors. Human sacrifices were carried out on the beach and afterwards, the bodies were believed to have been placed at the heiau for the sharks. Those days are long gone, but the bay and surrounding area is still home to a large population of sharks, hence the sign.

For more information, go to https://www.nps.gov/puhe/index.htm

Flowers for King Kamehameha

The statue of King Kamehameha in Kapaau, Hawaii, is decorated with leis on his birthday
The statue of King Kamehameha in Kapaau, Hawaii, is decorated with leis on his birthday

June 11 was King Kamehameha Day in Hawaii, celebrating the birthday of the king who first united the Hawaiian Islands under one rule. The day is marked by parades and ceremonies in several places, including here in North Kohala, which is where King Kamehameha was born. The past couple of years, the ceremonies didn’t take place because of Covid restrictions, so this year’s event was the first since then.

I was working on the day, but after work I stopped by to see his statue, which was draped in leis during the ceremonies. It seemed like there was even more floral decoration this year than in previous events, making for a colorful spectacle. But even more striking than the color was the wonderful aroma from the profusion of plumeria flowers in the leis.

The leis are left in place for two or three days before they’re removed. Even when I was there on the first day, some of the flowers were starting to wilt.

Camp Tarawa

Signs at the entrance to the former Camp Tarawa in Waimea, Hawaii

Waimea was the site of Camp Tarawa from 1943 to 1945. The camp was built by the 2nd Marine Division which had just fought the battle of Tarawa, hence the name of the camp. Those marines then trained there for their next campaigns before moving on in spring of 1944.

They were replaced by the 5th Marine Division, who used the area to train for the attack on Iwo Jima. After that campaign, those marines returned to the camp for further training, but the war ended before they were called into action again.

The camp was closed in November 1945 and returned to Parker Ranch, which had leased the land to the U.S. government for a nominal fee, with the proviso that it be returned to them in its original condition. This meant that few buildings from that time remain, but the land between Waimea and the South Kohala coast was littered with unexploded ordinance and shrapnel, some of which remains to this day.

Signs at the entrance to the former Camp Tarawa in Waimea, Hawaii

Three views of a Milo flower

A view of a milo flower in Hawaii
A view of a milo flower in Hawaii
A view of a milo flower in Hawaii

I saw this Milo (Thespesia populnea) flower during a walk on the South Kohala coast and liked the different views it afforded. Milo is a canoe plant, brought to Hawaii by Polynesian settlers. It’s similar to another canoe plant, Hau (Hibiscus tiliaceus), but Milo is more of a tree and has different shaped leaves, pointed as opposed to heart-shaped.

Home is where the tube is

A lava tube that used to be home to early Hawaiians
A sign in front of a lava tube that used to be home to early Hawaiians

The public parking area for shoreline access at Mauna Lani is some distance from the ocean. From the parking lot, the trail meanders across some old lava, but off to one side is this interesting little spot.

It’s part of an old lava tube that was used as a shelter by early Hawaiians. Lava tubes are created when lava flows crust over on top, creating an insulated tube that lava continues to flow through. When an eruption ends and the supply of lava disappears, the lava drains out of the tunnel it’s been flowing through and a hollow tube is left.

As the sign at the entrance says, the tube would have been cool during the heat of the day, but would also protect from wind and rain. These days, the floor is strewn with rocks, but when used for habitation, any rocks would have been removed leaving a reasonably smooth floor. In the photos, the ceiling looks low, but I’m over six feet tall and didn’t have to duck. It’s a big area.

The top photo shows the entrance taken from the back of the tube. The bottom photo is taken from the entrance, looking toward the back.

A lava tube that used to be home to early Hawaiians