Category Archives: Parks

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.

Ongoing eruption

The latest eruption of Kilauea Volcano continues. It’s settled down to being a fairly well-behaved eruption as these often do. Currently, lava is still pouring from a vent on the northwest side of Halemaʻumaʻu crater. It has formed a lake more than 200 meters deep, which continues to rise slowly.

This photo was from my trip down there in December. These two people were silhouetted by the glow from the eruption. To see what’s currently happening at the volcano go to https://www.usgs.gov/volcanoes/kilauea/webcams.

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

Up all night

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Night.’ See more responses here. Also posted in response to Becky’s January Squares challenge theme of ‘Up.’ See more responses here.

On December 21st of last year, I went down to the coast to get a clear view of the ‘Christmas Star.’ This event was the closest coming together of the planets Jupiter and Saturn in almost 800 years. This isn’t to say that the planets themselves would be closer, but from our planet, they would appear so, so close that they would seem to be a single large ‘Christmas Star.’

I got down to the coast before sunset and stayed until it got dark enough that I knew I wouldn’t get more decent photos. I knew my best shot would be with some foreground still visible. The top photo is the best I could do with my camera. The two planets can clearly be seen close together, but with a sliver of late evening sky between them.

I headed home, downloaded the photos, and went to bed not long afterwards. Why the early night? Well, the next day I planned to drive over to see the new eruption at Kilauea Volcano, in the pre-dawn darkness, which required a 1 a.m. start. (That story can be found here.)

It was as I was wrapping up taking photos of the eruption that I turned to see the eastern horizon lightening. But there were still some stars visible in the sky and the brightest light of all was the planet Venus. That’s when I took the second photo before heading back to the car to start the three hour trip back home.

Uplifting moments from 2020

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Your 2020 Retrospective.’ See more responses here. Also posted in response to Becky’s January Squares challenge theme of ‘Up.’ See more responses here.

In this retrospective I’ve focused on events and photos that were uplifting for me during the difficult year that was. Most of these photos haven’t run before, but were taken at the same time as those in posts that ran in 2020. Links to the original posts are at the end of the captions.

Signs: Tsunami hazard zone

The coastal regions of Hawaii are dotted with tsunami warning signs. Basically, any place within reach of a tsunami gets a sign.

I came across this sign while hiking the Puna Coast Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. It stood out as a dot of color in a field of lava and scrubby grasses. What I liked about the sign was its sage advice ‘In case of earthquake, immediately go to high ground or inland.’ At this spot, the high ground is inland, so that kills two birds with one stone.

On the other hand, getting to that high ground inland involves scrambling over a mile or more of rough lava. Also, if the earthquake was big enough, it might just mean that you could encounter lava from a new eruption heading down to the coast to meet you. The sign doesn’t offer any advice on what to do then!

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