Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Hawaii - The Big Island! Black Sand Beach, Akaka Falls, Place of Refuge, Lava Trees, and Seahorses!

Before we even arrived, Pat had an itinerary all planned out, but like all good plans, it got changed several times!  As sunburns happened (Pat's), backs got sore (Taylor's or mine) or ideas exchanged, we adjusted, added and subtracted.  There were so many choices!

One of the top things I wanted to see tho was Punalu’u, Black Sand Beach, where the Green Sea Turtles come to nest, so off we went!  What a treat it was too!  There were about 5 turtles laying about that day,  so sweet, you wished you could just reach out and touch them (they have the area around them roped off so as not to disturb them).  The beach really is black too.  So beautiful up against the blue of the ocean and the green of the foliage and trees.  It wasn't very busy, and if we hadn't had many other places to visit, I could have spent the rest of the day there.  Very lovely.

Another lovely spot is Akaka Falls State Park.  It was a fun walk (well, if you are up for a lot of stairs up and down - Jack and Pat weren't) through some lush canyons with smaller falls and streams, lots of ferns, and tropical plants, then you come to the falls - all 442' of them!  Spectacular drop! Mist spraying off them (Taylor said that was unusual, as he had never seen it like that before) creating a wonderful picture.  This park was small, but one of those little hidden treasures, just tucked away for an hour or so's worth of enjoyment.

Puuhonau O Honaunau National Historical Park or "Place of Refuge" is a wonderful  park that gives you a real since of Hawaiian history.  Simple, self-guided but cultural, I thought.  I really liked it.  It wasn't "over the top" like some parks can do. It shows you how  King Keawe'ikekahiali'iokamoku, great-grandfather of Kamehameha l lived (around 1550).  Seemed he had some pretty strict "rules" (kapu), like women could not eat food reserved as offerings to the gods, or could not prepare meals for men or eat with them.  Seasons for fishing, killing animals, and gathering timber were strictly controlled.  If a kapu was broken the penalty could mean death!  Otherwise the gods might react with violence: volcanic eruptions, tidal waves, famine, or earthquakes.  To protect themselves from catastrophes the people chased kapu breakers until they were caught - or until they made it to a pu'uhonua.  If they reached the pu'uhonua, the kahuna pule (priest) performed a ceremony of absolution, and the offenders could return home safely.  ;-)  Yea for them!

An unusual looking park was the Lava Tree State Park. Situated in the Nanawale Forest Reserve, this park is a graphic depiction of the long-term effects of lava. Hundreds of years ago, a fast moving flow of hot lava hit this patch of wet 'O'hia trees. The lava forever encased the structures leaving behind vertical, hollow, lava tubes where each tree once stood.   These ghostly structures are now covered with moss surrounded by lush, tropical foliage and huge monkeypod trees.  This beautiful foliage now covers most of the devastation from earlier volcanic flows. Interior view of the hollow, lava tree shows impressions of the tree bark. Numerous holes in the ground are actually the base of an old, lava-encased tree. An opening in the side of a lava tree shows how the bark of the tree made it's lasting impression in the molten lava.  Mother nature...gotta love her...

The big surprise and treat was the Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm!  Wow, what a great experience - and education!  They call it the "Magical Seahorse Tour" and it is!  It starts with collecting krill, which they eat, then taking you into the breeding area (tubs) and showing you various seahorses from teeny tiny ones (babies) on up to the full grown ones.  They can get up to 10" big.  In the wild, seahorses mate for life, thus, if separated, they die.  Therefore, when caught, most times they are separated, so, guess what?  They don't live long.  They are on the endangered species list and not doing well.  The founders wanted to do something about this.  So they have been working on getting the seahorses to breed with more than one mate and have been successful.  They also have been successful in coming up with a food source that is more plentiful.  They have been so successful, they have been able to put some seahorses back into the ocean! They have just recently added a couple rare New Zealand Seahorses that they will try and breed as well.  After the tour, you get to have a seahorse wrap itself around your finger!  How cool is that?  (You feel like a mommy!)  What an unusual tour and experience.  Very special indeed.  They are doing wonderful work, and gee, for a mere $200 you too can have a pair shipped to your home! (you just need the expensive tank set up to house them in as well!)  ;-)

Lots of wonderful stops for tasty treats at Punalu'u Bake Shop, Dinner at Sam Choy's, and Kilauea Lodge, and Pat's Pies, soaking in the thermal waters of 'Ahanalui Pool, sitting and relaxing at Whittington Beach, watching the birds fight over the bird feeder in the mornings, and so much more...all of it, wonderful, beautiful, special memories we will cherish forever, ended all to soon.

With over-stuffed bags, many hugs, we were off to Oahu to our next adventure!
Green sea turtles at Punalu'u Black Sand Beach, Hawaii
'Akaka Falls, Hilo Hawaii
'Akaka Falls trail, Hilo Hawaii
Royal Grounds - Pu'uhonua o Honaunau, National Historical Park, Hawaii
Marie with the ki'i guardians of the place of refuge
Jack at the Lava Tree State Park, Nanawale Forest
 Lava Tree State Park, Nanawale Forest
 Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm, Kona Hawaii
 Jack holding a seahorse at the  Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm, Kona Hawaii

...back on the mainland, trying to catch up!  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

1 comment:

  1. Marie, I am SO glad you stopped by my "Southern Lagniappe" blog and took the time to leave a comment. I have thoroughly enjoyed my visit here and look forward to reading about your adventures from 2013. My husband and I have talked about doing what you and Jack are doing, but, so far, we are just daydreaming about it. There's nothing I would love more than to just get in an RV and DRIVE across the country, preferably on the backroads, seeing America up close and personal ... and capturing it with my camera.

    Again, I'm so glad your comment led me here and I look forward to touring the country through your lens and stories. You have a lovely way with words.