Hawai’i – Kaelakeula Bay and Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau

This is another long post . . . feel free to just peruse the photos, skim, or totally ignore . . . as if you, dear readers, need my permission. 

Here’s a quick preview of some of the 70 photos. Yes, you read right; 70 photos.

1280x 1280 collage

As usual, you can click on any photo to see a version roughly twice in size as what is shown here (it will open in a new window). Also as usual, click HERE to visit the corresponding SmugMug gallery.

These photos were taken last Friday. We were then living under Darby’s threat of weatherly violence (the ranger at the park warned us to listen for the evacuation siren if things got dicey). As we all know now, no diceness occurred. 

The narrative starts at Kealakekua Bay. The link will take you to the Wikipedia page for the bay and a corresponding history of said bay. Here are a few panoramas of the bay . . . 

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The bay is in an area of the Big Island known as Captain Cook . . . because, I presume, this is where Europeans first made landfall on the Hawai’ian islands (disputed by some) and where Captain Cook was killed in an altercation over a rowboat. Nearly simultaneous events when looked at through the lens of history.  

Here’s a map of Hawai’i (the Big Island of Hawai’i, not the state). 

Big Island

Anyway, this bay is very popular with tourists. During our stay at Casa de Emdeko, many of the boats I photographed were either on their way to or returning from this bay. 

Many of them stop along the way to let tourists swim with dolphins that are also on their way to this very bay (it’s sheltered and apparently a good place for baby dolphins).


Do you see it? There, across the bay . . . Captain Cook’s Monument. 


It’s accessible by boat or by a 1.82 miles trail which we will eventually walk. These days it’s just a bit too hot and humid. 

For them experiencing déjà vu, don’t worry; it’s not agent Smith rebooting the Matrix . . . it’s likely because you are a long-time reader and THIS.

Also, note the overcast sky. Since it was mid-day, I did not mind much (it was still hot, but not as hot as if the sun was beating down on us. Also, the clouds muted what would have been harsh shadows and overly-bright spots in the photographs. 

We only stayed at this pot for a little while as there isn’t much to see. Most of our time there was spent talking to other visitors to the islands. Our next destination was Puʻuhonua o Honaunau, a short drive along the coast from the bay. Here are a couple links about what most people refer to as the Place of Refuge (LINK and LINK). There are other links that give the history of the place. For instance, the National Parks site.

The area actually comprises two things . . . one is the traditional residence for many of Hawai’i’s past powerful chiefs and the other is the actual refuge. The refuge is behind a great wall (pictures later). Anyone who broke/violated any of the many Kapu could try and make it to the refuge. I heard different accounts, but the one I heard most often had people swimming across the bay while pursued by warriors. If they made it across to the refuge, the priest was, by law, obliged to “wash away” the transgressions and the people could then rejoin the population, absolved of their transgressions. I don’t know why people would not be able to come to the refuge via land. Perhaps all land access paths were heavily guarded. 

As I mentioned before, it seems as if any strong swimmer could get away with anything . . . perhaps I’m reading it wrong.



That is a half-scale reproduction of the Hale O Keawe heiau, a temple where the bones of various chiefs were buried and said to contribute to the power of the protection of the refuge because of the mana they provided. 

Notice one more thing . . . there are two version of the photos; as shot and a B&W version. I’ll be doing more of this in the post. If you don’t like B&W photos, don’t look at them. If you love them, by all mean feast your eyes. 

Here are a few more views of this reconstruction . . . 

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This next shot shows the small inlet that served as the landing for the royal canoes. In the back you can see the Great Wall separating the Royal Grounds from the Refuge proper. 


This next shot shows the aerial roots of the Hala tree, a tree very important to Hawai’ians as they used almost all the parts of the tree. I call it the Engineer Tree because it appears it puts in there bracing struts and that seems very sensible to my engineer mind.


Side note: some will note that I write Hawai’i and not Hawaii. I’m using an apostrophe between the two “i” but I should be using a single left quotation mark (but not like the one for this font; rather, it should look like a small “6”). It should look like this:


Now, I also write Hawai’ian. There are conflicting direction out there as some say the proper written version is Hawaiian, other say it’s Hawai’ian, and still others say either are acceptable. Regardless, the symbol between the two “i’s” represents a guttural stop and it’s considered one of the letters of the Hawaiian language. It’s called an ‘Okina.

Anyway, I will continue to write Hawai’ian as opposed to Hawaiian because it makes more sense to me and because there is plausible data that it’s acceptable and perhaps even preferred. I’ll be doing more research on it and report back.

This next photo shows a recreation of the game Konane. Looking something like checkers but more complicated, individual games sometimes lasted all day. Idiot missionaries tried to abolish all play, so the game went into decline after their arrival. Luckily, it has survived to today.  


These next few photos show why this was a popular place for the ruling chiefs . . . 



It’s peaceful here, and beautiful. Just like today, the rich and powerful always claim the best real estate for themselves and strive to keep “commoners” from having the same. 

The trees have interesting textures. I could not figure out if these pocks were done by insects or if they’re damage from the sand/rocks when the water is driven inland. I suppose I should ask. 


Anyway, this is the wall separating the royal grounds from the refuge . . . 


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The wall is ten feet high and 17 feet thick. The stones are packed tightly and the builders did not use any mortar. This wall has withstood the elements since 1550 . . . although, they also say it has been stabilized and repaired. I don’t think both those statements can be true, but there you go. 

These figures served to guard another temple that was here (recreated at the site) and housed more bones of chiefs. 

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Tourists now pose with these silent sentinels but there was a time when just being near them would mean almost instant death . . . at the hand of actual sentinels. 

These next ones guard the recreated temple . . . man, I’d hate to be relegated to futile and useless guard duty for eternity. 




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Before making my way to the other side of the wall, I walked on the lava. The shapes and patterns fascinate me. The Hawai’ians have different words for lava depending on its behavior and how it looks. HERE.

These will be pairs of photos, each pair consisting of the photo as shot accompanied by the photo in one of the B&W treatments I like.







Some of these lava shots resemble photographs of pachidermian epidermis. Go Figure.





Mark Twain wrote about this very stone when reporting from the Sandwich Islands. Two thoughts . . . I walked in the footsteps of Mark Twain (it would be great if I can match his strides) and, man, that was one sweet gig. I would not mind landing something similar, I tell you. 


These next shots are of the Great Wall itself . . . amazing.






Another stone from the path inside the refuge.



Like in many places on the island, grasses are the first to reclaim the ground usurped by the lava flows.


Here’s a view from the refuge toward the sea (not visible in the shot).

20160722_DSC7489_1_DIGIThe path itself is worth sharing . . .


. . . for the pattern . . . 


There are a number of fish ponds on the site, but they contain only small fish. 

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I don’t remember the name of the leaves, but they were dried and then braided into ropes. I think they also made fishing nets from them, but don’t quote me on that. 



Last time we were here this next structure housed a couple recreating island life. This time, it was empty.


I’m looking forward to the outrigger canoe races next month. Most of the racers use modern versions of the above. I see them practicing nearly every evening and the gym includes a rowing machine modified to mimic the paddling one does in these canoes. 

The name carved on the canoe . . . 


. . . means — as far as I can tell — “the youth”. N ow, that doesn’t quite make sense to me given the context. It could mean that it was made by youths, or maybe for youths, or maybe by adults for youths. 

Here are a few more photos from the structure:




This Engineer Tree is really afraid of toppling; it looks like something I might have designed. 


By this time, the heat had cranked up and the breeze died down . . . time to leave in the comfort of our Air Conditioned car. But, On the way out, a little memoir . . .







This should be the end of this post but I saw these at an overlook. It’s some sort of weed, but it looks nice.






Once back at the condo, I snapped this photo of a palm tree catching the last few faint rays of the sun. 


That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ o o o o o o ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~



Astute persons might have noticed these doodles, and correctly surmised they hold some significance for me, and perhaps for humanity at large.  

If you click on the doodle, and nothing happens, this is the link it’s supposed to go to: https://disperser.wordpress.com/2011/12/26/palm-vx-and-i/.


If you are not reading this blog post at DisperserTracks.com, know that it has been copied, and likely is being used by someone with nefarious intention, like attracting you to a malware-infested website.  Could be they also torture small mammals.


Please, if you are considering bestowing me recognition beyond commenting below, refrain from doing so.  I will decline blogger-to-blogger awards.   I appreciate the intent behind it, but I prefer a comment thanking me for turning you away from a life of crime, religion, or making you a better person in some other way.  That would mean something to me.

If you wish to know more, please read below.

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Note: to those who may click on “like”, or rate the post; if you do not hear from me, know that I am sincerely appreciative, and I thank you for noticing what I do.

. . .  my FP ward  . . . chieken shit.

About disperser

Odd guy with odd views living an odd life during odd times.
This entry was posted in Black and White, Hawaii, Photography Stuff, Writing Stuff and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Hawai’i – Kaelakeula Bay and Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau

  1. I think if I chose to write Hawai‘ian rather than Hawaiian, I would use the Okina. Seems silly otherwise. And as you are pedantic I am surprised you aren’t doing so.

    Anyways. Security duty ain’t so bad. My partner’s done a couple of recent football matches. Reasonable money, in Gibraltar terms, for just keeping his eyes open and watching people for five hours or so.

    Nice pix. Even if there were a lot. Liked the Cook monument. He got around for a lad from Whitby. Actually, I think he came from Staithes or one of the smaller villages down the coast.


    • disperser says:

      Moi? Pedantic?

      There ar multiple reasons I don’t . . . would you like to hear (read) them:
      not all fonts represent that particular character. In fact, for those who use the Reader on a phone or tablet, that character is replaced by a single quote (which, per some Hawai’ian authoritative entities, is perfectly fine). Even for those who use a computer, they would need to have the font I’m using loaded on their PC (and, again, not all those fonts replicate the symbol). Finally, it’s not in the special characters set provided by WordPress which means I have to code it in using the HTML editor or finding an appropriate ASCII code for it.

      Now, some might accuse me of pedantry, but I’m also practical . . . especially when it benefits me.

      As for security, those wooden statues don’t make anything. Even so, my objection is in the fact there is nothing there to guard. They are performing their duty for the benefit of tourists who want to have a selfie with a Guardian.

      The cook monument looks good from afar . . . I’m guessing that it’s probably in worse shape than evident in the photo (age, salt water, wind, birds, grimy humans, etc.) I’ll know more when we make it down there.


  2. That weed sure is pretty. Interesting fact about the missionaries abolishing the game. Glad it survived :)


    • disperser says:

      I tried looking up Hawai’ian weeds, invasive plants, and plants in general, but have not found it.

      Missionaries were, are continue to be, bad news for whatever culture they choose to infest. Back then, they had the might of the military to help them enforce whatever rule came out of their pointy hats, although likely those rules were pulled from a lower region.


  3. It’s been many years since I’ve visited the area. Thanks for all the beautiful reminders.


  4. Those figures/carvings are so amazing!
    That is the prettiest weed ever!
    Is it difficult to learn how to pronounce all the names and places? Lots of vowels! Are they just pronounced phonetically?
    You are sharing such beauty…and great textures and shapes, etc.!
    HUGS!!! :-)


    • disperser says:

      When we buy a house or condo, I’ll see if I can get a sentinel made for our property.

      As for learning to pronounce things, yes and no. Some things are better than other, but long repetitive strings of letters are more a matter of memorization that “reading” them, phonetically or not. Also, the ‘Okina is occasionally omitted from signs (especially street signs) making it difficult to “guess” at the pronunciation.

      It also makes it difficult for someone who stutters because the flow of the word is important in the pronunciation of it. I mean, it’s the same in English but I think more so in Hawai’ian. For me, it just gives me another point to hang up.

      That said, I’m of two minds about learning the language. By that, I mean learning to speak it versus just knowing the meaning for when I see it written or hear it.

      Some people approve of foreigners trying to learn their language, while others don’t like people appropriating and proceeding to mangle up what they see as their cultural heritage. That’s not just here as I experienced that in Europe as well and notice it here when native English speakers pounce on the accent or misuse of words by non-native speakers.

      Finally, regarding language, learning the native language implies a deeper assimilation into society than I’ve done in any of the places I’ve lived; it would require constant contact with people who are fluent in the language and as many people might have surmised, having a vast – or even small – social network is not a primary goal in my life.

      I mean, sure, on the Internet. But in real life? That smells of human interaction at a level that has never appealed to me. Sure, I can do it, but on purpose and 24/7? I don’t think so.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. AnnMarie says:

    I wish I could recall in which documentary we first heard of the “Place of Refuge” (since it really bothers me, I’ve re-queued several Netflix DVD’s that might contain that tale). Anyway, from what I remember, if the accused reached the wall then he had to run on it (or something similar) and jump huge widths to reach the priest. That’s the memory that stayed with me about that place, but will let you know once I find it . . . which I’m determined to and won’t rest (figuratively) until I do!

    I found all your subjects (and respective photos) very, very interesting . . . as I knew I would. My knowledge of the Hawai’ian culture and land is expanding by leaps and bounds now that you’re there. Of all your excellent shots, I’m very impressed with the B&W of the trees reflected on the pond. Striking contrast.


    • disperser says:

      I’ll have to ask when I’m there next, but my impression was they swam the “shark-infested” bay and landed ashore behind the wall. Now, given the number of snorkelers and swimmers out there, I don’t know that the “shark-infested” trope is much more than drama thrown in there.

      The swim alone would be difficult for many, especially if being chased, but there again I’ll point out that any strong swimmer could get away with a lot.


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