Tag Archives: Hawaiian History

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.

Better Days: Kona Village Resort

Looking across Kahuwai Bay toward the Kona Village Resort
The sign on the fence says it all.
Some of the damaged buildings lining the shore.

On March 11, 2011, the northeastern part of Japan was jolted by an earthquake registering 9.0 on the Richter scale. While the quake caused extensive damage, the resulting tsunami was even more destructive. Water surged up to six miles inland and flooded more than 200 square miles of land. Perhaps the best known result of this tsunami was the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, after it was overrun by the surging waters.

Here in Hawaii, a few hours after the earthquake, tsunami waves washed up on shore. The waves were up to 10 feet high, but the damage was not as great as was feared. However, along the west coast of the Big Island, there was flooding and damage to coastal properties.

One of those properties was the Kona Village Resort, situated to the north of Hualalai Resort. Damage to the resort’s properties was sufficient to force its closure. The property then sank into the swamp that is insurance settlements and financial shenanigans. During this time, the buildings deteriorated.

Originally, the resort was supposed to reopen this summer, but that was pushed back a year, then more. Currently, sometime in 2022 is the planned reopening, but this being Hawaii, that date shouldn’t be taken too seriously. When I walked the beach past the site, work was going on, but I saw only a handful of workers and a couple of active machines. It didn’t appear to be a project going full-steam ahead.

The current work site, lots of orange netting but not much action.
At a casual glance things don’t look too bad, but the roof thatching is mostly gone, the buildings are open to the elements, and there’s other damage in and around the area.
It’s still a beautiful setting and the beach is enticing.

Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park

The final post on this week’s theme of the WordPress photo challenge, ‘Tour Guide.’

These photos are from Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, otherwise known as Place of Refuge. This National Park showcases important Hawaiian history with it’s royal grounds where the Hawaiian royalty lived, Hale o Keawe where the bones of 23 ali’i were housed, and for the Pu’uhonua where anyone who had broken kapu (sacred laws) could seek shelter and ultimately forgiveness.

Here are views from the ocean side (above), of a hālau (right) which houses canoes, and of a ki’i (below) representing an Hawaiian god.

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


This week’s posts are on the theme of the WordPress photo challenge, ‘Tour Guide.’

A myriad of unique species evolved on these isolated islands. Many have disappeared, victims of other species introduced willfully or accidentally, decimated by new-to-them diseases, or simply displaced by the relentless encroachment of humans.

Of those that still survive, many are under great threat. However, there are success stories. Nēnē, the state bird, have come back from almost nothing and are doing well. Some ‘amakihi appear to have developed resistance to avian malaria, and ‘alalā, the Hawaiian crow, have recently been reintroduced into the wild in small numbers in an attempt to reestablish a wild population.

The palila is another endemic species that is rebounding with a little help. It is the only one of 16 finch-billed honeycreepers still in existence. It used to live on the islands of O’ahu, Kaua’i and Hawai’i. Today it exists only on Hawai’i, the Big Island. Even here, it’s habitat, which once covered the māmane forests of Mauna Kea, Hualali and Mauna Loa, has been reduced to a small area on the southwestern slopes of Mauna Kea.

The palila is a specialist feeder and this is one of the reasons it’s in trouble. It feeds mostly on immature seeds of the māmane, but māmanes have been badly affected by agricultural expansion and by grazing by wild sheep and goats.

The Palila Forest Discovery Trail is an area that has been fenced off and is protected from these threats. I’d been up there several times (four-wheel drive required) but had never caught so much as a glimpse of a palila. One of the reasons for their elusiveness is that palilas follow their food. Māmane flowers at different times depending on the elevation, so palila move up and down the hillside as the flowers bloom and the seeds reach the state they prefer.

Last time I was up there, however, my luck changed. I was taking photos of a moth when something flashed by just above me. I looked round and sitting on a nearby branch was a palila (I’m not a birder, but they’re quite distinctive.).

I quickly snapped a few photos, desperate to get some kind of record of this elusive bird before it disappeared. I needn’t have worried. It seemed unconcerned by my presence and was soon joined by several others. What was most striking was their feeding habit. A palila would pluck a green seed pod and take it to another branch. Once it was settled, the reason for its it stocky bill became apparent. It absolutely hammered at the pod, pinning it to the branch and banging away with its beak to access the seeds. The image of a workman smashing concrete with a pneumatic drill popped into my mind.

For half an hour or so I got to watch them at work. They seemed much like other birds I see — lively, healthy, a thriving group. But looking around, it was a sobering thought to realize I could see all their habitat, containing all that is left of an entire species.

For more information about palila and the Palila Forest Discovery Trail, go to dlnr.hawaii.gov/restoremaunakea/palila-forest-discovery-trail/.

For more information about birding on the Big Island, go to http://hawaiibirdingtrails.hawaii.gov/.

’Aimakapa Fishpond sluice at Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park

Better Days: ’Aimakapa Fishpond sluice

’Aimakapa Fishpond sluice at Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park

’Aimakapa Fishpond is one of two fishponds at Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park. The other is Kaloko Fishpond, which is separated from the ocean by a huge rock wall, currently being restored. ’Aimakapa Fishpond’s barrier is made up of sand dunes.

A channel was dug to the ocean to allow water to circulate back and forth and, at the ocean end (seen here), a sluice gate (makaha) installed. The sluice gate helped keep predators out. These days it isn’t used and so the channel has silted up with sand.

Fishponds are different to fish traps. Ponds allow for the rearing of fish from small fry. Traps are shallow walled enclosures, which fish can cross at high tide, but cannot escape from when the tide goes out.

For more information about Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, go to www.nps.gov/kaho/index.htm.

Alakaha Ramp bench

At the top of the Alakaha Ramp, on the 1871 Trail from Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park to Ho’okena, is this little weathered bench. It offers shade and a lovely view to the north, the point of land being the park.

For more information about the 1871 Trail, and other hikes on the Big Island, go to bigislandhikes.com.

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