The Pacific Ocean has long been home to a great seafaring race. Moving
eastward from Indonesia, people now called Polynesians discovered
and colonized islands scattered across the huge ocean. They brought their language,
customs and gods to live in delicate harmony between land and sea.
I studied with many native Hawaiian
kahuna and kupuna ... I thank Papa Henry, George Naope, Miriam Baker,
Margaret Machado, Mona Kahele, John Kaimikaua and Daddy Bray for their
incredible knowledge and wisdom that I and my friends integrated into
a cohesive whole (see Awaiku).
Kealakekua is a reminder of an older Hawaii. With a
1000 foot (300m) cliff on one side, a stony beach on another, dense
jungle behind and an ancient temple to the south. It is a pocket paradise on Big Island.
You may feel hooked from your first view from the end of the Napo'opo'o
road in the village of Kahikolu.
Captain Cook and Lono
Both a paved road and a wild road accesses Kealakekua Bay - and it's a good
idea to avoid driving on the wild road, unless you have a four-wheel drive
vehicle. Across the bay is the monument to Captain James Cook, RN ... near where Cook was killed by angry
people who had previously thought he was a manifestation of the god Lono.
Hikiau heiau 1999
Hikiau heiau 1779
Kealakekua provides a refuge for people who
want to avoid the twenty-first century for a while. But don't
expect to be showered with aloha if you trespass on kapu
(private) property. You don't want to experience the mana of irritated
Hawaiians! Honor their privacy, and, as you walk around Kealakekua, remember
that the banana, avocado and citrus trees and their fruit all belong to someone.
Kealakekua Bay includes an incredible underwater park. I have seen dolphins,
sharks and giant
barracuda here and heard about groups of hammerhead sharks.
Practical Tips for Kealakekua
Pack in fresh water. I suggest a gallon (4 L) per person.
After a long walk in the heat - you will want it, and having some left
over is much better than not having enough. Been there ... done
that ... got the dehydration.
There are no public footpaths from the access road to
Cook's monument. Pack a lunch and rent a kayak. If you wish, take a mask snorkel and fins
(and a plastic noodle if you are not a good swimmer) ...
and shoes (not beach slippers) that can cope with the terrible acacia thorns!
Kealakekua history records the death of Captain Cook, where a
monument to him stands. Captain Cook arrived in Kealakekua Bay during
a festival dedicated to the god Lono-i-ka-makahiki. The Hawaiians
decorated the festivities with symbols of white banners, which resembled the
masts and sails of Captain Cook's ship. About 10,000 Hawaiians were attending.
James Colnett was a master on one of
Captain Cook's ships at Kealakekua. His journal reads: one of the chiefs was
a priest, attended with the Taboo Rods & a white Flag at each end of the pendant
stick was a bunch of green Bows. He included a sketch.
Colnett MS: 17 January, 1788
The Hikiau heiau (pre-Christian Hawaiian temple) is
where Captain Cook was apparently deified. To the north of the heiau is a
fresh-water pond and the ruins of a village. A lovely sandy beach was washed
away by a hurricane in 1992, although many writers of tourist guides haven't
Captain Cook sailed from Kealakekua Bay but returned after a
storm. The Hawaiians stole Cook's cutter - a valued possession. Cook took a
Chief as hostage until his cutter was returned - but in old Hawaii a chief was
extremely sacred. During a struggle, the Hawaiian natives killed Cook on
Feb. 14, 1779. His body was ... poetically and physically ... cooked (as part of
normal death rites - not as food).
Why not meditate
here, under the palm
trees, with the sound of surf and a cool trade wind? Try to visualize an old
village called Ka’awaloa and sandy beaches strewn with canoes. Try to imagine
yourself as a native Hawaiian ... in a remote community at the base of a cliff
at the edge of a forest ...
Ride the Tide ...
The waves on the beach at Kealakekua hide
an underwater park. Unless you are a strong swimmer, however, rent a kayak and
paddle across to the north side, by Cook's monument. (Note that a government sign warns you that it is illegal to molest a dolphin or a turtle.
Work it out.)
On the north side of the bay from the access road is the
end of a TOUGH walk or drive from the village of Captain Cook. If you decide to
hike in - prepare carefully. It's a
strenuous walk for fit people. Unless you are blessed with a 4-wheel drive
vehicle, by the time you return to Captain Cook village, you can expect tired legs and a sunset that you will