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.
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.
The traditional tools for playing on the beach are a bucket and spade. On my recent walk down at Kiholo, I saw this person going several steps better. Name me one kid who wouldn’t love to have a backhoe at the beach.
The reason for this particular piece of equipment is made evident in the bottom photo. Beach sand, from winter storms, had piled up against the edge of the property here. The backhoe was clearing it from the edge of the property and creating a berm in the optimistic hope of preventing the problem happening again.
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.
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.
This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Winter Wonderland.’ See more responses here.
We do get snow here on the Big Island, on the summits of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, but there’s none up there right now. However, for those knee deep in snow, shrouded in freezing fog, or sliding on icy sidewalks, I thought these photos might seem like something of a winter wonderland.
Hapuna beach (officially Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area) regularly features on lists of the world’s best beaches. It’s a long stretch of golden sand across the head of a wide bay with fairly protected waters. Swimming is good, but when waves do roll in, surfers take over.
The top two photos show the view from the south end of the beach. In the second photo, the line of greenery jutting into the beach represents the edge of the State Recreation Area. North of there is Hapuna Resort, which is private, but the beach is still open to the public. The bottom photo shows the view from the north, looking south. The tracks in the sand are from vehicles used in beach maintenance or by the lifeguards who patrol the beach.
Kealia Beach, north of Ho’okena in South Kona, is a mostly rocky beach with a strip of sand behind the rocks. It’s a good place to escape the crowds and for exploring tide pools. If you want sand and swimming, Ho’okena Beach Park is only half a mile away.