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Big Island of Hawaii - South Kona Coast

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June is from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, but is currently residing in New York. She loves to cook naturally with plants from her garden.


Welcome to the Big Island of Hawaii ~ The South Kona Coast ~ Part 5 of Our Tour

Aloha! E komo mai!

Hele mai! Hele mai!

Welcome back!

Mahalo for continuing on our tour of the Big Island of Hawaii!

If you missed the last 4 buses (pages) of our tour you can catch them at:

The Big Island of Hawaii, also named Hawaii, is the most diverse of all the Hawaiian Islands. You can travel around the Big Island in one day and go from white sand beaches to snow capped volcanoes; from cacti on cattle ranches to tropical rain forest; from black beaches to green sand beaches; and then on to live erupting volcanoes. All in one day!

But wait! You don't want to do it all in one day!

Relax, Take Your Time, Enjoy!

There is so much to see and do on a Big Island of Hawaii that you really don't want to try to see and do everything all in one day if you don't have too.

Take a day to explore each quadrant of the island to get a better feel of the Hawaiian culture.

It is well worth it to take your time and plan on staying for a while.

There are so many unique and interesting things for you to enjoy while visiting the Big Island of Hawaii. You don't want to just drive around the island without stopping and miss it all!

Take a chance. Slow down and absorb the beauty; slow down and experience the diverse cultures and life styles; slow down and savor the exotic tastes and aromas that the Big Island of Hawaii has to offer.

This is a Hawaiian Hale (House) - Tradition Requires You Remove Your Shoes Before You Enter


Eh! No Forget! You Gotta Remove Your Shoes Before You Go Inside

Elepaio Slack Key - by Keola Beamer

Press the play arrow and listen to the beautiful and heart-felt music of Keola Beamer, while you take the Big Island of Hawaii Circle Island Tour - Part 5, along the Kona Coast with me.

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Ho'okena Beach Park

Ho'okena Beach Park

Ho'okena Beach Park

Ho'okena Beach Park - South Kona

After leaving Ka'u on the last page of our tour, and heading towards Kailua-Kona, our first stop is Ho'okena Beach Park.

Ho'okena is part of the Honaunau area of Kona and the Ho'okena Beach Park is one of my favorite beaches (I have many - hard to decide the best) to spend a weekend or just a day in the sun having fun with my loved ones.

It brings back a lot of fond memories of weekends spent with family, swimming, fishing, partying and camping on the beach.

Ho'okena is a very magical area of Hawaii and was once home to an ancient Hawaiian heiau (sacred place of worship - temple). It was built under a frozen lava flow in the cliffs by the beach. One can feel the powerful mana (spirit) while at the spot.

It is a great place to swim, snorkel, camp out, party or just have a cookout. Many times the entertainment from family and friends playing Hawaiian music on the beach is one of the best parts.

Spinner Dolphin in the Water Off Ho`okena Beach

Lava Tube at Ho`okena Beach

The fishing here is great too. Often we've gone diving with just a Hawaiian sling (spear) and brought back our dinner to pulehu (BBQ ) over the fire on the beach.

While out diving you can sometimes find yourself swimming with spinner dolphins as they like to congregate there. They are very playful and seem to enjoy the company in the water.

If you walk towards the southern part of the beach and look up, there is a lava tube that you can explore, but it is very dark, you'll need a flash light. Depending on the height of the kiawe, or mesquite trees, it is probably hidden from plain view. If you didn't know it was there, you probably wouldn't see it.

If you walk to the right of the beach from the road entrance, there are a lot of tide pools and a few blow holes, which are always fun. Don't turn your back to the water when down by the tide pools as a huge wave could come up and take you away.

Opihi Cling to the Ocean Lava Rocks

At Ho`okena Beach you can find opihi clinging to the rocks to eat. Opihi are cone-shaped limpets, native to the Hawaiian Islands.

The shells look like a Chinaman's hat and the meat of these shellfish is a favorite delicacy in Hawaii.

We normally eat them raw, however, they taste like escargot when they are barbecued in their shells over a fire with garlic and white wine.

Prying opihi loose from the rocks is called pounding opihi, and requires a swift technique using what looks like a putty knife. to harvest these morsels from the rocks.

Pounding opihi can be very dangerous endeavor in some areas because of the high surf and the slippery rocks.

Pounding Opihi

Pounding opihi in high surf can be quite dangerous.

I can remember, as a child, my Uncle holding me upside down over a cliff, with my opihi bag tied around my waist and my opihi knife in my hand, so that I could swiftly pry the big opihi off the rocks on the side of the cliff before a wave would crash against me and the rocks..

When a big wave would come crashing in he'd lift me up by my ankles and when the wave subsided and went back out to sea he lowered me down again to get those succulent opihi clinging to the rocks with the strength of Samson.

Hawaiian Opihi Shell Necklace

Jewelry is made from the opihi shells, by sanding down the rough and ridged exteriors to expose the beautiful varieties of colors in the shells.

The shells are then highly polished and covered with a protective coating. Adding a large polished opihi shell to a few strands of pearls is a true thing of beauty.

Opihi shells are made into unusual and very attractive jewelry, often accompanied with puka shells or cowrie shells.

View of Ho'okena Beach Park

A Little About Ho`okena Beach Park

Often times at sunset you can see the manta rays and the honu, sea turtles, swimming near the shore and it is a great place for night fishing or squiding with the use of Hawaiian torches.

5 by Ho'okena - Ho'okena Hawaiian Music

Beautiful Hawaiian choral music of the kind that is not frequently heard much any more.

There are guest appearances of Robert Cazimero and Keali`i Reichel. on this recording.

This CD won the 1986 Ka Himeni Ana award, an all-acoustic choral competition.

Honaunau Coastline ~ South Kona

Honaunau Coastline ~ South Kona

Honaunau Coastline ~ South Kona


Pu`uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park

City of Refuge

Our first stop in Honaunau is Pu'uhonua o' Honaunau, or the Place of Refuge of Honaunau.

The photo on the right is a shot of a replicated hale (home) at the park. Next to it is a brackish stream that runs into the ocean by the park. The fresh water comes from underground springs and mixes with the sea water.

This is one of the most visited and sacred places on the Big Island of Hawaii that is open to tourist visitation.

On the walk through this sacred place you will see the ancient heiau, sacred temple, ancient fishponds, the ki'i, (carved wooden statues that are incorrectly called tikis), and several ancient villages.

You can feel a sense of calm and security that surrounds the place. Every time I walk in the vicinity of the ancient heiaus I get chicken skin (pidgin for goose bumps).

Even the sea turtles, spinner dolphins and humpback whales seek out this serene and beautiful refuge. Camping here is not allowed.

The 182-acre Place of Refuge is now preserved as a National Historical Park but in ancient times it was a pu'uhonua (place of refuge).

Boat House at Pu'uhonua o' Honaunau

Pu`uhonua o Honaunau Video - Video About Pu`uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park

Ancient Hawaiian Law

In the days of ancient Hawaii, any Hawaiian who had committed a crime, or broken a kapu (taboo) would be protected if they were able to reach the heiaus at the pu'uhonua.

In the ancient times of my ancestors, the punishment for breaking a law, no matter how minor, was most certain death.

The only option for survival was if the kapu breaker could get to a pu'uhonua (sanctuary) where he would be protected and forgiven by the kahuna (priest).

Ancient footprints found in the hardened lava close to the pu'uhonua are believed to have belonged to someone so intent on reaching safety that he walked through the hot, soft lava to reach the place of refuge.

Most of the laws in ancient Hawaii were centered around the ali'i (royalty), as they were of the highest rank in the Hawaiian caste system.

A maka'ainana (commoner) or a kauwa (slave or untouchable) could not walk in the shadow of a king. A maka'ainana and kauwa had to immediately prostrate himself, face down upon the ground, in the presence of the ali'i.

The penalty for not obeying one of the kapus of the chiefs was death. There was no tolerance for the law breakers in ancient Hawaii. The laws were tough and the judgments were carried out carried out swiftly.

Some kapus of the ali'i nui (highest chiefs) were considered equal to those of the gods.

This drawing by Jacques Etienne Victor Arago depicts the death of a man for breaking a kapu.

Because the ancient Hawaiians relied on nature for all things, the kapu ai system was followed with reverence and respect for the natural world that they lived in. This aloha aina, love of the land, made the kapu ai, system one of the earliest examples of environmental protection.

Fishing was allowed only in certain seasons, for certain species. The Hawaiians knew that fishing this way would conserve the natural resources and keep their main food source plentiful.

Opelu, mackerel, could only be fished half of the year, the other half being kapu. The ancestors understood that opelu was not only a main food source, but was also important in the food chain to feed larger fish such as ahi, yellow fin tuna. Aku, the spinjack tuna, could only be fished when the opelu were kapu. This rotation of the fish that could be fished and what couldn't be fished, also coincided with the natural breeding times of ocean life.

Certain fruit were reserved only for royalty and kapu to the commoner. For example, bananas were kapu to maka'ainana, commoner men. Women and men also ate separately and on different diets.

Ancient Hawaiian Royalty was the Highest Class

It was kapu for the kauwa (slaves or untouchables) being the lowest class, to marry an upper class citizen. The Hawaiians believed that the kauwa were so contaminating that it was kapu to share a meal with them, to touch them or to sleep near them.

Even the shadow of the kauwa could not fall on one of their superiors. It was believed that the inferiors would pollute the pure superiors of the chiefs and warriors and again, the penalty was death.

The kauwa were most often the victims used for human sacrifice at the luakini heiau (sacrificial temple) however anyone that had broken a law and was sentenced to death, could become a human sacrifice.

There was no such thing as an 'accident' or 'not on purpose'.

There were no excuses. The law was the law and the penalty was death.

The only ones that had the power to pardon, or spare a life over a broken kapu were the ali'i nui (high chiefs) and the kahuna (priests) of the pu'uhonua, or place of refuge.


Women and the Kapu 'ai System

Also, foods for husbands and wives had to be cooked in separate ovens and eaten in separate structures.

During the four principal kapu periods of each month, women were forbidden to ride in a canoe or have intimate relations with the opposite sex.

Women were also kept in separate hales, houses, during their menstruation periods and could not be visited by the men during this time. The men felt the power of women at these times and felt it best to keep them contained. During their pregnancies, women had to live in separate hales from their husbands. A violation of the law was certain death.

Other kapu seasons were during preparation of an approaching religious ceremony, such as the makahiki festival time, when the ceremony had had come to an end, before going to war, or when an ali'i was ill.

Incidentally, it is an interesting fact that early Hawaiians were seldom sick until the coming of the haoles, foreigners, who brought their diseases with them.

Added note: The term haole is not a derogatory term, as so many people from the mainland assume because of their lack of understanding of the Hawaiian language and culture. I myself am hapa haole, part white, and am not offended by being called haole, because that is partly what I am.

Law of the Splintered Paddle

Law of the Splintered Paddle

Law of the Splintered Paddle

The Changing of the Kapu 'ai System

It has been told that in the year 1782, the soon to be greatest chief of all, Kamehameha I, had an experience that resulted in the enactment of a law that was to become one of the most well-known of all his laws.

As the story goes, Kamehameha I had set out from Maui one day in a canoe to make a raid off of the Puna coast on the Big Island of Hawaii.

He came upon two enemy fishermen who, upon seeing the invading chief, fled to the shore to warn the other people of the village.

Kamehameha chased after them across a lava field. While running, one of his feet was caught in a rocky crevice. Unable to free himself, he was at the mercy of his enemies.

Realizing Kamehameha was stuck and was not able to free himself, the two fishermen who he had been chasing, came back and attacked him. The men beat Kamehameha using their canoe paddles as weapons.

The story says that the men attacked him so severely, that one of their paddles splintered when they struck Kamehameha on the head. His beaten body was left to die. Kamehameha did not die, and when he recovered from the attack he never forgot it.

Later, after Kamehameha came to power he recalled that incident and commemorated it in one of his best known edicts,

Mamalahoe Kanawai which means "Law of the Splintered Paddle". This law was designed to protect the innocent and helpless from wanton attacks such as the one he had been subjected to.

This means that anyone who is weak is entitled to protection and assistance, and to respect, even from the King.

Read More of the Law of the Splintered Paddle


ʻAi Noa - The Ending of the Kapu`ai System

Kamehameha II (King Liholiho) is credited with overthrowing the kapu system in 1819.

The king sat down to eat with commoners and women in public and abolished the kapu`ai.

Hewahewa, who was the highest ranking Kahuna from Oahu, renounced his office, because of his anger over this relinquish of power.

King Liholiho then decreed that all the temples should be abolished throughout the kingdom.

Across the entire island chain the priests followed the command and by this single act many heiaus were forever abolished.

When the kapu system was overthrown, it was not only the ending of the kapu 'ai law but also the complete overthrow of the entire power of the Hawaiian ali'i (monarchy), class and the Hawaiian religious beliefs of the Kahuna (priesthood).

This act was a deliberate relinquishing of power over the common people and an act of liberation for the whole society from the binding force of the kapu akua (laws of the gods) and the kapu ali'i (laws of the chief).

Illustration from Mark Twain's "Roughing It'

Illustration from Mark Twain's "Roughing It'

Ooro, One of the Principal Officers of Kamehameha II

Ooro, One of the Principal Officers of Kamehameha II

Heiaus Destroyed

Mark Twain stated, "There exists no other society in the history of the world in which the kings ended their own divine right to power."

This drawing by the French artist, Jacques Etienne Victor Arago depicts "Ooro, one of the first officers of Kamehameha II, 1819, the same year as this historical ending of the kapu 'ai system.

The end did not come without a fight, however. Many Kahunas, lower chiefs and warriors were angered over this breaking of the Hawaiian law and felt that this edict was the end of the Hawaiian people and their rule of their own domain. Who knew at the time how prophetically true those feeling were?

More can be read about the battles that surfaced from this overthrow of the kapu system at Big Island of Hawaii ~ Kailua-Kona

The missionaries wasted no time in assisting with the destruction of the ancient Hawaiian heiaus upon their arrival and replacing them with churches in their effort to "cleanse" the Hawaiian Islands of their pagan ways.

Recommended Reading

Ancient Hawaii by Herbert Kawainui Kane

Herbert Kane's is not only a fabulous artist, his writings of the history of Hawaii are superb.

I highly recommend this book as one of the most accurate depictions of the early days of the Hawaiian Islands.

The art work that you see on this page were painted by Herbert Kane. I used the cover of this book to show you how the ali'i of old would have looked. This book is HIGHLY recommended for anyone interested in the true history of Hawaii written by one of Hawaii's favorite sons

The Legends and Myths of Hawaii

Written by King David Kalakaua, this book gives an excellent view of ancient Hawaiian law and Hawaiian mythology.

In the early 19th century, and under the rule of Kamehameha II (King Liholiho), a group of religious and political leaders conspired to overthrow the centuries-old native Hawaiian religion and kapu traditions.

This was the prequel to the conspiracy to overthrow the Hawaiian monarchy. It was all over monetary greed and power by these political and religious leaders none of whom were of Hawaiian ancestry.

King Kalakaua wrote this book with the hopes of restoring this cultural dissolution and returning to his people the full majesty of the ancient Hawaiian traditions.

Honaunau, Captain Cook District

St. Benedit's Painted Church - In Honaunau on the Big Island of Hawaii


St. Benedict's Painted Church

After leaving Pu'uhonua o' Honaunau, we will make a quick stop at a very quaint yet artistically interesting little church in Honaunau, at the slopes of Mauna Loa (long mountain), not too far from "The Place of Refuge".

The history of the church began early in 1842 when Father Joachim Marechal, was assigned to care for both South Kona and Ka'u Districts. The original chapel, was known as St. Francis Regis Chapel.

It wasn't until 1899, when a young missionary priest from Belgium, by the name of Father John Berchmans Velge, took over the diocese at St. Francis Regis Chapel.

He moved the church from it's original location up to the lower slopes of Mauna Loa, made repairs on the church and re-christened it in honor of St. Benedict.

It was moved again in 1980 to where it is now, when faced with the imminent threat of lava when Kalapana was covered.

Father John was quit the artist and was "God inspired" to paint the interior walls of the church with some striking scenes of various Biblical events.

Father John designed and painted the interior of the church in a trompe-l'oeil style of a miniature European gothic cathedral in Burgos, Spain.

The columns are decorated with Hawaiian texts. His murals soon became famous, and St. Benedict Church became known as "The Painted Church of Honaunau."

St. Benedict Roman Catholic Church
84-5140 Painted Church Road
Captain Cook, Hawaii (HI) 96704

Phone: 808-328-2227

Visit the Painted Church Website to learn more of the history.

Painted Ceiling of St. Benedictine's Church


Inside the Painted Church -Videos

Photo by Jan Russ


Kealakekua Bay

At Honaunau

Driving down Napoopoo Road we are heading to Kealakekua Bay which is one of my favorite snorkeling, diving and fishing spots, but you must be an expert swimmer-diver to be able to handle the water depths and tides here.

Napoopoo Road is a curvy, scenic drive that winds past coffee farms and country stores down to the bay. I have always loved the drive down to the bay as this area is quite rural and the road is reminiscent of old Hawai'i

Kealakekua Bay is the site of the first contact between Europeans and Hawaiians. It was where Captain James Cook came ashore in late November of 1778. The photo above is of the 27-foot white marble monument that was erected to commemorate the historical event. The monument is a far distance from the actual landing site,


An interesting bit of trivia is that the piece of land that the monument resides on is the only piece of land still owned by the British. British ships still come to shore at the monument to clean and repair it, as needed.

The name Kealakekua translates to "pathway of the God," because it had been prophesied in early Hawaiian legend that it would be at this very spot that the god Lono would return to usher in a new age.

Kealakekua Bay was also the site of Captain Cook's death. The exact location is about a mile and a half swim from the beach through open ocean in what can sometimes be shark infested waters.


Mostly hammerhead sharks are the type of sharks seen in the water during the swim to the monument but not to worry, hammerheads are not known to be a threat to man.

There are only four species of shark that have been known to attack man and they are the great white, the white tip, the tiger shark and the bull shark.

A little later I'll tell you a story about my brother, the beer and the tiger shark while fishing at the Kealakekua Bay.

Exploring Kealakekua Bay


British Version of Captain Cook's Death

The version of the history of Captain Cook's death on this video is only slightly accurate. It is a mixture of the British and Hawaiian version. We believe our version to be the true story.

In those days, there wasn't a written language. All of history was past from one generation to the next orally in songs, chants and story telling. There was not a reason for a lie in the telling of the event for the Hawaiians. There was nothing to lose or to gain. It was just an event that was. That was not the case for the British.

It is a well known part of Hawaiian history that when the Makahiki festival would end each year, it was kapu for anyone to be out and about except for the ali'i (chiefs or kings) and the Kahuna (priest).

The punishment for anyone breaking this kapu was instant death.

Captain Cook and his men returned to shore at Kealakekua Bay when the Makahiki had ended, because of a broken mast that need repairing.

The Captain was unaware of the Hawaiian law, or surely he would not have allowed his men a shore.

The Hawaiians, when seeing the sailors on land, then realized that the Captain was not a god or he would have known about the kapu and would not have allowed his men ashore.

This was the reason for the fighting and the death of Captain Cook. The Captain and his men had broken a kapu and the breaking of the law was death.

The story of the theft of a long boat by a Hawaiian for the nails, was a fabrication. There were not any maka'ainana (commoner) or a kauwa (slave) around when the Captain came to shore because of the kapu.

The people of Hawai'i knew not to be out and about because of the penalty of death. The fighting that commenced over the breaking of the kapu was between the Chief's guards (who the Chief had called to enforce the law) Captain Cook and his men.

Captain Cook was killed because of the breaking of the Hawaiian law, not because of a theft made by a maka'ainana (commoner) or a kauwa (slave).

The Hawaiians realized at that time, that the good Captain was not a god or he would have known it was kapu for his men to be out and about.

Looking Out from Napoopoo

Hiking to Captain Cook Monument

This fellow in this next video mistakenly states that the Hawaiians ate Capt. Cook. This is not true. The Hawaiians are not nor have they ever been cannibals.

They did practice human sacrifice, but they did not eat people or each other.

Uhu ~ Parrot Fish

The uhu, or parrot fish, can be seen while snorkeling at Kealakekua Bay.

There are several varieties of parrot fish in Hawaii and they are all gorgeous, but the two most common come in two different color blends.

The one shown above in the photo with multi-hues of aqua, green and lavender, is a male.

The females are multi-hues of red, black and orange. These fish are not only beautiful, they are very good eating too. They have firm white flesh with a sweet flavor.


Snorkeling at Capt. Cook Monument

Kikakapua ~ Butterfly Fish - Kealakekua Bay

The kikakapua (butterfly fish) is seen here with a yellow sea anemone on the right of the photo.

My Brother, the Beer and the Shark

One day my brother and I were hungry for some fresh fish so we set off for Kealakekua Bay with fishing poles in hand. Before heading down Napoopoo Road it was getting pretty warm that day so we figured be had better get some beer to take with us. We stopped at old Sam Higashi store and bought a case of beer and off we went.

We hadn't brought a cooler with us, so when we got to the pier at the bay, we dropped our beer into the water to stay cool on the ocean floor. Whenever we wanted a beer we'd just dive in and get one.

We had a great day of fishing! We caught plenty fish, friends stopped by to have a few beers with us and talk story, it was the end of an all in all great day.

Kealakekua Bay at Sunset

Kealakekua Bay at Sunset

Kealakekua Bay at Sunset

As the sun started to slip behind the horizon we figured we better dive for the last of the beer before the sun went down complete and we wouldn't be able to find it in the dark.

Just as I was about to dive in to retrieve the beer, a tiger shark swims up close to the pier, right on top of our beer!

My brother comes down to see what the hang up is and follows my stare at the water. He looks out at the ocean, as the sun is quickly descending into the horizon and the sky is changing from blue to pinks and shades of purple. He looks back down at the lazy circle of the tiger shark around the last six-pack of our beer.

Tiger Shark

Tiger Shark

I look at the shark circling our beer and I look at him and say, I'm not diving in hell with the beer."

At that moment there was a huge splash as my brother cannon-balled into the water. All I saw was a huge wall of water push up in front of me and the shark take off at high speed back out to sea.

Up out of the water comes by brother with the 6-pack in one hand yelling, "I don't care who he thinks he is, he's not getting my last beer!", as he gets out of the water laughing.

My brother's got more olos than he's got brains and I think this time the shark was more scared of the sudden splash in the water than I was scared of the shark!

So that is the story of my brother, the beer, and the shark. You had to have been there.

At the time it was pretty funny to us, I wouldn't advise anyone else doing it. The tiger shark is extremely dangerous indeed as seen in the photos below.

Tiger Shark Attack

Here is an example of how a tiger shark can can tear into you.

It really is no laughing matter!

Tiger sharks tend to be territorial and will attack to protect their territory. Stay out of their way!

This photo belongs to Alan and Megan Finley, a couple who was vacationing in Maui when Alan was attacked.

Below is a Short Video with a reminder to have respect for Hawaii's ocean life.

Diving, Snorkeling and Swimming Etiquette While in Hawaii - Respect the Ocean & Sea Life

Kokua Malama Kai - Help Take Care of Our Ocean

Humuhumunukunukuapua'a ~ Hawaii Trigger Fish

Humuhumunukunukuapua'a ~ Trigger Fish

Humuhumunukunukuapua'a ~ Trigger Fish

My Little Grass Shack

This Hawaiian song references our state fish the Humuhumunukunukua'pua`a.