Tag Archives: Kealakekua

First visit to Hawaii

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

This seemed like an opportune time to revisit my first visit to Hawaii, back in 2010. My wife and I stayed in a vacation rental near Captain Cook, overlooking Kealakekua Bay. The sky was hazy with vog from Kilauea Volcano, but the place was awash with colorful flowers. Just down the road was the Painted Church and at the foot of the hill, Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park celebrates Hawaiian culture and history with its wooden ki’i and towering palms.

We traveled the whole island from the black sand beach at Pololu (even if we had to pass the carcass of a dead whale twice) to the black sand beach at Punalu’u, dotted with resting green turtles, and rocky surrounds. There were waterfalls big and small, and roads lined with tropical foliage leading to the active lava flow at that time.

There, signs warned that flowing lava is dangerous (who knew?), but we were still able to get within 10 feet of oozing tongues of red, and saw small fires still burning in nearby brush.

There was even a house for sale: ‘Buy now before it burns!’ We didn’t, though that house still stands while others, much farther from that scene, have since been consumed by subsequent flows.

It was this visit that prompted us to return permanently two years later. Hawaii isn’t paradise – it has its pros and cons like any place – but we haven’t regretted the move and are looking forward to the next 10 years.

Captain Cook Monument

This week’s Friendly Friday challenge theme is ‘Whereabouts.’ See more responses here. ‘Whereabouts’ means ‘the place or general locality where a person or thing is.’

My whereabouts are the Big Island, Hawaii, which is also the place where Captain James Cook, of the British Royal Navy, lost his life on February 14, 1779. He was killed by native Hawaiians with whom he was involved in a dispute over the loss of a cutter from one of his ships. I won’t go into a detailed history here, but more information about Captain Cook can be found at www.captaincooksociety.com/.

Captain Cook’s whereabouts were often uncertain, in that he was an explorer who visited unknown or little known places around the world. Not only did he sail to far flung places, but he made excellent, detailed maps and charts of the places he visited, which made him highly thought of in the British Admiralty, and which made it easier for future travelers to know their whereabouts.

Between 1768 and 1779 Cook made three voyages around the world. The first two focused on the search for the theorized southern super-continent of Terra Australis. The third was intended to find the Northwest Passage across the northern part of North America.

It was on this third voyage that Cook became the first European to officially visit Hawaii (as opposed to other European commercial ships that were believed to have been there before). He sailed on to the north to attempt (unsuccessfully) to fulfill his commission before returning to Hawaii.

This time he anchored in Kealakekua Bay on the Big Island (official name, Hawaii Island). He was well received, in part because his arrival coincided with a Hawaiian festival for the god Lono. After a month, Cook left to resume his voyage, but when one of his ships lost a mast, he returned to Kealakekua Bay.

Unfortunately, by then the festival for Lono was over and his return was not greeted with the same enthusiasm. Soured relations led to several incidents culminating the theft of a ship’s cutter and the incident that led to Cook’s death. However, the killing of Cook did not diminish his standing in the eyes of the Hawaiians. In 1874, the Captain Cook monument was put in place and, in 1877, the land on which it stands was deeded to Britain by Princess Likelike as a sign of respect.

The top photo shows the monument, surrounded by a chain supported by twelve cannons from HMS Fantome. The second photo shows the inscription on the monument. I particularly like the bit about how he discovered these islands, islands which were occupied by a substantial population governed by an established royal line. The third photo is the plaque marking the spot where Captain Cook is believed to have been killed. Below is the location of that plaque in relation to Kealakekua Bay, which is the water beyond the rocks in this photo.

Signs: Ka’awaloa Trail

The Ka’awaloa Trail starts near the top of Napoʻopoʻo Road, on the edge of Captain Cook – the town that is, not the person. The trail goes down to the water near the Captain Cook Monument on Kealakekua Bay.

As you can see, there are a lot of warnings on the sign. It could be greatly shortened to, “Abandon hope all ye who set foot on this trail.” But there are a couple of things to know about this sign. One is that most people won’t read it. I mean, who needs to waste time reading a dumb sign. The second is that quite a few people will end up in difficulty on the way back up, because the trail really is steep, hot, and exposed. Locals often take extra water with them to help out those in need, but if you don’t meet one of them on the trail, you’re on your own. An iced tea stand two-thirds of the way up could make a killing.

I also like that someone has taken the time to obliterate the word ‘vehicles’ in the ‘No vehicles’ admonishment. A car would never make it and even a trail bike might have a tough time. Perhaps it was just the principle of the thing that someone objected to.

Bluefin trevally

A couple of bluefin trevallies seen while snorkeling in Kealakekua Bay. The area is a marine conservation district where fishing is prohibited. In general, I’ve found that fish in such districts are less skittish and more likely to approach snorkelers, so it’s a good place to get photos of some otherwise elusive fish.

Bluefin trevallies aren’t exactly elusive, but these two passed close by, unperturbed by my presence.

Mooring buoy

At the northern end of Kealakekua Bay, near Captain Cook’s monument, is an area that has good snorkeling. People can hike down to the place or take a boat trip there with one of several companies.

Many of the tour boats are small runabouts. The skipper can just drift with the boat in the bay while the clients snorkel. The largest boat is Fair Wind II, a catamaran that features has two 15-ft waterslides and a high-jump platform! This is not a boat suited to drifting around a bay lined with shallow, coral rich waters and crowded with snorkelers. So they have a mooring buoy in the bay.

Mooring buoys are basically floating balls with a length of chain tethering them to something heavy, usually a large concrete block. The chain is long enough to allow for the ebb and flow of the tides so that the buoy is always available for use. The idea is that a boat ties a line to the buoy, which holds it in a relatively restricted area so that it doesn’t crash into underwater obstructions, land, or other boats.

The Fair Wind II buoy in Kealakekua Bay is different in that its length of chain keeps it permanently below the water, regardless of the state of the tide, as the photo shows. The idea is that when the boat arrives in the bay, a crew person jumps overboard with a mooring line and attaches it, not to the buoy, but to the length of chain hanging below the buoy. The line is then hauled in and the boat is secure and held in place. I think that the reason for this slightly different arrangement is that there’s no buoy floating on the water day in, day out, regardless of whether it’s being used or not. In this historically important bay, this might be regarded as an unwelcome sight.

The last time I was there, the eerie appearance of the buoy was augmented by movement of the water causing the loose length of chain to clank, loudly, against the fixed length. It was a scene straight out of scary movie where the ominous quiet is shattered by the terrifying … well, you get the idea.

Posted in response to this week’s Friendly Friday challenge on the theme of ‘Ebb and flow.’ See more responses here.

For more information about Fair Wind II, go to fair-wind.com/.

Hale o Keawe at Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau

Hale o Keawe at Pu'uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park.Ki'i seen at Hale o Keawe at Pu'uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park.

Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park sits on the coast south of Kealakekua. It features a huge masonry wall that encloses the pu’uhonua or place of refuge. As the name indicates, this was a place that offered sanctuary to those who had broken sacred laws (kapu) or been defeated in battle. If they reached this place, they would be spared, absolved by a priest, and allowed to return home.

A large portion of the remainder of the park is known as the Royal Grounds where Hawaiian royalty (ali’i) lived. Hale o Keawe sits on the edge of the pu’uhonua and is a heiau that housed the bones of 23 of those ali’i. This gave the heiau tremendous mana, or spiritual energy. The wooden statues are ki’i representing Hawaiian gods. It’s an important structure, both culturally and historically.

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

Ki'i seen at Hale o Keawe at Pu'uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park.