Saturday, August 13, 2011

Big Island Bliss: Ho'okena, Honomolino, Okoe

After leaving Kealakekua Bay, we had a relatively slow sail in light winds. We decided to check into Honaunau (aka Two Step), a well known snorkeling venue and home to the now historical park of the restored “City of Refuge,” sanctuary for Hawaiians in trouble since the 16th century. Although it looked beautiful, tons of people swarmed the beaches and waters. As we found only the tiniest spot of sand for an anchor, we decided to continue south. 3-nm later in Kauhako Bay and the town of Ho’okena, we were greeted by spinner dolphins (who use the large sandy area as a resting ground) jumping in welcome. The biggest sandy area yet, we happily set both our bow and stern anchor with bow heading west toward the incoming swell and our stern facing the protective cliffs. After the sun set we enjoyed the “air conditioning” as the offshore breezes funneled right into our boat throughout each night.

This small fishing town with no electricity was the main shipping port until WWII when the road connecting the Kona Coast to Hilo was completed. Now, the beach park is crowded with families during the day and permitted campers at night. We spent several days here mostly in the water with sunny days and clear water creating amazing snorkeling visibility (100-ft!). Ho’okena, which means “to satisfy thirst” was interesting snorkeling with fresh and salt water mixing plus sand, coral, lava, rays, fish of every variety and size, and even a lava tube high up on the surrounding cliff, visible from the water. We also spent one day, termed “Apacolypto” by Chris, relaxing aboard as Chris fought a stomach bug.

Still seeking isolated anchorage, we continued south another 12.3-nm to Honomolino Bay (approximately 25-nm north of South Point). Paradise found. Nearly deserted, reef-protected, palm tree filled bay with a big sandy area for anchoring in the center, clear water filled around the edges with forests of coral, and stark lava at the shoreline creating natural bridges dotted with a few mostly boarded up vacation homes. Snorkeling between coral heads we even met the resident white-tipped-reef-shark who was just as scared to see us as we were to see him. That drove us (mostly by Shawn’s urges) out of the water for a bit and we sailed Fatty a mile or so up the coast to just off the little town of Miloli’i, supposedly the last remaining traditional fishing village in Hawaii. We spent another entire day sailing approximately 2-nm down the coast along an amazing Aa lava flow to neighboring Okoe Bay. Both Honomolino and Okoe are fine grey-black sand beaches and were heavily impacted by the Japan tsunami this past spring. Honomolino’s coconut lined beach was stripped of much sand and the forest reorganized, while the solitary home at the north end of Okoe Bay was completely pulled from its supports. As everywhere else, the clean up efforts have left manmade debris nearly impossible to find, but the substantial natural changes are still obvious.

Initially we were drawn to the south end of the bay by an interesting black and white beach of coral and lava. Tying up the sail and pulling out the oars, we rowed past a breaking wave into 360-degree lava protection for Fatty. Turns out we literally stumbled into a historical wilderness area. On shore we found stands of coconut trees heavy with ripe coconuts. Following what looked like a road in the lava-coral beach we past an intact Ancient Hawaiian sled run, then further on water sources and stone work and finally a trail system through the unforgiving lava fields. As we wound back, we noted even more trails, some of them “cobbled” with large coral stepping stones. It was a very spiritual, magical, enchanting area, and upon returning to internet, quite difficult to find information on.

As the afternoon was getting late, we sailed back to the north end of Okoe Bay and tied up for a few moments to a tiny underwater mooring we found so we could snorkel a bit around the bay. We walked on the beautiful black sand beach and marveled at the lack of what was obviously a home prior to the tsunami. Back in Fatty, with storm clouds menacing, we headed back toward Honomolino and Tao. Unfortunately, the threatening clouds actually followed through bringing an unexpected downpour and a slacking to no accompanying winds. We kept warm by rowing the rest of the way home, getting there just before sunset, we were pleasantly surprised that very little water had actually gotten in through our wide open hatches.

This gorgeous isolated area was food for our hungry souls and we recharged luxuriating in the sheer beauty of it all. We saw a relatively small number of people on the beach each day, hiked around the lava caves and did more snorkeling among the lava statues and through underwater bridges. Always the adventurer, Chris got some especially amazing views and also a little kiss from the coral on his calf which will keep him out of the water for several days to allow healing. Although we feel like we could stay here forever, we are excited also to see the rest of the islands, so with no more known welcoming anchorages to the south, we've started our northward movement.

1 comment:

  1. You two(three) are so very lucky. My heart races with joy at the love and adventure you have found in each other. May your journeys together sail on.xo Aunt Barbie