The Big Island Part I: Salt & Refuge
Jason and I have traveled to a number of the Hawaiian Islands but we hadn’t journeyed to the mass from which that archipelago gets its name until our last big trip.
The island of Hawaii, commonly called the Big Island to avoid confusion, is, well, big. It’s larger than all of the other Hawaiian Islands put together and is a place of unexpected extremes. It boasts two peaks above 13,000 feet that accumulate snow but it also harbors scorching craters where the fire of new earth is continually smoldering.
Our first day on the island was all about relaxing or at least unwinding underwater. We snorkeled in King’s Pond, a pool carved out of natural lava rock that’s fed by subterranean channels and rises and sinks with the tide. King’s Pond holds 1.8 million gallons of water and 75 species of fish, including a spotted eagle ray. Its brackish alcoves weren’t the most pristine we’ve snorkeled in but its fish were abundant and they weren’t too shy around us human folk.
During our second day, we spent some time in Kailua Bay aboard a submarine. This vessel descended 111 feet below the surface to tour stretches of coral reef and skirt sunken ships. We saw countless fish, a huge eel, two shipwrecks, and even a shark while onboard. Not too bad for an undersea excursion that didn’t even require us to get our feet wet. Yup, it was basically scuba for the lazy man.
Before heading back to our hotel at Hualalai, we detoured to Pu’uhonua o Honaunau, a national historic park. The ancient Hawaiians were governed by the kapu system. In this strict code of conduct, a commoner could be put to death, or become a human sacrifice, for breaking any of a long list of taboos. Their family might also share their fate. However, they had one hope for forgiveness. If they could make it to a pre-designated area of asylum before being caught or killed, all would be forgotten and they could return home in peace. Pu’uhonua o Honaunau served as such a place of refuge.
Although the kapu system disappeared nearly 200 years ago, the life-saving amnesty Honaunau once offered still permeated its quiet bay. With swaying coconut trees and lapping waves, this park was about as tranquil as it gets. We enjoyed the hush of the day slipping into twilight among its protective ki’i.
The following day we continued our therapeutic salting by visiting Hapuna Beach, which is consistently rated as one of the top ten beaches in the world. With fine golden sand that slopes gently into crystal waters, it’s no wonder. We boogie boarded for hours at Hapuna while sea turtles swam around our feet. Honestly, I highly doubt we will ever have a beach experience as nice as that again.
With visions of impeccable shores I leave you until next week’s sizzling recollections.