Hawai’i – Kona – Day 11

Today was our trip up to Kona.  We were planning on staying up there overnight, but too many snowbirds (yes, they call them snowbirds too) were on the island and the hotels in Kona were full.  No room at the inns. So this was going to be a shorter day than planned, and it also meant we would not be in Kona for sunset.  I was batting a thousand for sunrises and sunsets on this trip.  Oh well. Be Happy.

With all the volcanic activity, we experienced a lot of haziness, also called VOG.  I learned a new term – VOG,  is a form of air pollution that results when sulfur dioxide and other gases and particles emitted by an erupting volcano react with oxygen and moisture in the presence of sunlight. The word is a portmanteau of the words “volcanic”, “smog”, and “fog”.   Another well.  Either I get to see lava and at least some sputtering of the volcano or I get clear skies.  Hmmm.  Guess this trip meant I got to see volcanic activity.  The VOG carried all the way over to Oah’u. I had heard the local new mentioning Vog, but didn’t really pay any attention to it.  It was hazy over there too.  Now I know why.

But this morning, I was given the chance to see Moano Kea – with snow on top, even with the haze you can see the observatories on the left side.hawaii-11-1

We never attempted to go up to the summit as Maunakea is one of the only places in the world where you can drive from sea level to 14,000 feet in about 2 hours, so altitude sickness is a high possibility.  At 14,000 feet, there is 40% less oxygen than at sea level, so visitors should acclimatize to the altitude before proceeding further up the mountain.  And that is only part of it. At the Visitor Information Station, located at about 9,000 ft, after you get used to that altitude, you then also need to make sure you have a true 4 wheel drive vehicle. About 200 yards beyond the station, the pavement ends and the next five miles are a steep graded-gravel road.  They warn you that most rental car companies do not allow their vehicles to go to the summit.  Not to mention, if your vehicle breaks down, it would be very expensive to get it repaired, not to mention, I can’t imagine towing fees off a mountain top. lol.  Ok, enough on the big mountain, since we weren’t going to attempt it. On to Kona.

But we stopped in Waimea – as they just had a cherry blossom festival (a couple weeks earlier)


Since we couldn’t stay, we went to the National Park  (another one to tick off my list) – Pu’uhonua O Honaunau. hawaii-11-25

This place was known as the city of refuge until its name was restored to the original Hawaiian name.  Imagine you had just broken the sacred laws, the kapu, and the only punishment was death. Your only chance of survival is to elude your pursuers and reach the Pu’uhonua, a place of refuge. The Pu’uhonua protected the kapu breaker, defeated warriors, as well as civilians during the time of battle. No physical harm could come to those who reached the boundaries of the Pu’uhonua.  Now to really understand what that means – you first need to understand that the King’s royal grounds were right next door, and it was Kapu to step on the King’s royal  grounds. So if you did break a kapu, whoever saw you break the Kapu was bound to enforce the law, including your spouse.  They would pursue you.  So you needed to get around the royal grounds, and reach the boundary of Pu’uhonua, by swimming. This was a long distance, with coral and lava reefs, not to mention sharks.  Once you reached the rocks, you still needed to climb over them to reach the beach to be safe.  If you managed to do that, you would spend a couple of days, and then you would be forgiven and could return to your village.  Another example would be if there was a war.  The winning side did not take prisoners, so you would try to make it here, so that you could live.

There is a few things to see at the visitor center, including some art work – and a turtle from the reeds of the palm. hawaii-11-3 I recommend that you stop and listen to the lecture by the park rangers.  It was very interesting to here the whole history of this area.  Then take the walk. You can do this with a ranger or follow the path with the sites numbered on the handout.

hawaii-11-4 There are  many ki’i (carved wooden images) around the grounds.


hawaii-11-6 This is a model of the Hale o Keawe, showing the detail of the construction..



Bear and Bearbette getting ready to play the ancient game – Konane.  It is a strategy game played with black and white pieces on a papamu (stone playing surface- carved into a lava surface.)


The Hale o Keawe.



Bear and Bearbette climbed a coconut tree.



Two Guardian Ki’i stand on shore to alert everyone of the great mana here.



The heiau was a royal mausoleum housing bones of 23 ali’i, including Keawe-i-kekahi-ali’i-o-ka-moku, Kamehameha’s great grandfather.  These bones give the heiau immense mana.


The great wall up to 12 feet tall and 18 feet wide and over 950 feet long. marking the royal grounds.  This wall was constructed over 400 years ago using dry set masonry.


A bit of the rocks you would have had to scramble over in the surf to reach this place of refuge.



One of the fishing ponds for the King.


And to protect the canoes  today, before it was an ancient shelter for working.




another wonderful day sight seeing –

Be Happy – from the visitor center as we were leaving.



sorry I am so far behind.  I am trying to catch up – but with another trip starting in the morning, I will not finish the posts for this trip until I return, though I might get a couple more days posted tonight.  This is what happens when you are without the internet for the first week of a trip. Hang in there, I will get it posted.












2 thoughts on “Hawai’i – Kona – Day 11

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