Sunset, Kailua-Kona, The Big Island, Hawaii, March 11, 2024

Sunset, Kailua-Kona, The Big Island, Hawaii, March 11, 2024
Sunset, Kailua-Kona, The Big Island, Hawaii, March 11, 2024

Saturday, December 3, 2016

A Place of Refuge, and a Place of Relaxation - Wed., Nov. 30, 2016

Ah, sweet sleep, much needed after yesterday, was afforded to me. Waking up refreshed and relaxed, we had nowhere to be this morning. I took my time getting ready and we relaxed in the room. 

Part of my breakfast - papaya and pineapple
Today the weather looked favorable for snorkeling. Two-step at Honaunau Bay was our choice to go see schools of yellow tang, trumpetfish, parrotfish, damselfish, and needle-nosed butterflyfish.

At the same bay, is Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, a Place of Refuge in the days of the ancient Hawaiians. I wanted to stamp my National Parks Passport book and take a look around since we were here anyway. 

The park is very interesting. Here are excerpts from the park brochure telling the history:
"...Pu'uhonua o Honaunau preserves aspects of traditional Hawaiian life. Honaunau Bay with its sheltered canoe landing and availability of drinking water, was a natural place for ali'i -- royal chiefs-- to establish one of their most important residences. Separated from the royal grounds by a massive wall was the pu'uhonua, a place of refuge for defeated warriors, noncombatants in time of war, and those who violated kapu, the sacred laws.
"...Royal Grounds This was the home of the ali'i [royal chiefs] of the Kona District on the island of Hawai'i. The royal grounds were within the ahupua'a of Honaunau, a political subdistrict that descended the slope of Mauna Loa into the ocean. This mountain-to-sea method of land division gave residents areas for farming, collecting drinking water, and fishing...
"...Place of Refuge A massive stone wall, built in about 1550 and still standing, separates the royal grounds from the pu'uhonua. It was not the stone wall that bestowed sanctity to the area but the chief's sacred bones. Tradition holds that the ali'i possessed mana, spiritual power. 
"...The mana of Keawe, an important chief, was believed to protect the pu'uhonua, a sanctuary that gave people a second chance.
"Blood could not be shed within its have broken a kapu [sacred law]. You swim across the bay, pursued by warriors. As they close in you reach the pu'uhonua shore. You are safe! No one may shed blood here, and you thank the gods. Soon you will be absolved by a priest and allowed to go home." 
Honaunau Bay and Two-Step

Half-size reconstruction of a temple

Place of Refuge
Two ki'i, guardians of the place of refuge

After a brief exploration of the place of refuge, we walked over to two-step, one of our two favorite snorkeling spots on the Big Island. This snorkel spot is called two-step because there is an area in the lava rock with two steps to get into the bay. It makes it pretty easy to get in and out as long as you time your entry and exit to the small waves that lap at the lava. You sit on the top step to put on your fins, mask and snorkel, and then move down to the bottom step to get in. We were there at high tide, so the water was high enough to make it pretty carefree to get in.

Once in the bay, you notice the schools of yellow tang moving in unison with the waves over the coral. The water felt cool at first, but we got used to it quickly. Snorkeling is so relaxing. Float on top of the water, follow and watch the different reef fish as they swim and sway. 

The coolest fish I saw today was a trumpetfish. That's a long tubular fish that looks so docile and placid that the other fish just kind of ignore it. Then, bam, it sucks up a fish for dinner. So far I've never seen a trumpetfish catch another fish, but I keep on eye on them just in case there's a nature moment in store for me.

My second favorite fish are the needlenose butterflyfish. They are beautiful and unique. It was a good snorkeling day, even though we were there only about 1/2 hour. 
Two-step at Honaunau Bay
Two-step looking toward Place of Refuge
Taking the low road back
We drove home a different route so we could see Kealakekua Bay and the Captain Cook Monument. 

Kealakekua Bay and Captain Cook Monument
Bob and I took an ocean kayak across this bay a few years ago to snorkel at the Captain Cook Monument. When we kayaked across the bay, we saw spinner dolphins "napping" in the bay. That was so cool!

Most people are familiar with bottlenose dolphins because of the TV show "Flipper" from years ago. Bottlenose dolphins flip head over tail. Spinner dolphins spin side to side. That kayak trip was the first time I had seen spinner dolphins spin.
Info on spinner dolphins

Back at the Kona Coast Resort, we decided to have dinner at their restaurant overlooking the pool. Dinner was mediocre and way over-priced. We would not eat there again, but the ambiance was nice.

Family pool at Kona Coast Resort
Resort's restaurant overlooking pool
Bob and I
Breezeway at the resort decorated for Christmas
Sure was nice to have a relaxing day today! Good night all.

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