Archive for the ‘history of hawaii’ Category

 

Looking toward the Captain Cook monument from Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park. Photo: Wikipedia.

Kona Boys’ morning history lesson by kayak on Hawaii Island

Though I’ve lived within walking distance of Kona Boys’ headquarters in Kealakekua’s high-elevation coffee country for almost a year, it was only recently, prompted by visiting family, that I popped in and signed up for its Morning Magic tour to the Captain Cook Monument. I’m so glad I did.

The iconic monument, nestled into the northern and not-road-accessible end of Kealakekua Bay, stands sentinel over some of the best snorkeling off Hawaii Island. But for me, that wasn’t the reason for the tour. I’d visited once before, via the only other mode of entry—the steeply sloped and little-shaded trail off Napoopoo Road—and spent hours tailing brightly colored butterfly fish as they nervously darted toward the drop-off. This time, aided by expert guide Anthony “A.J.” Johnson, one of Kona Boy’s managers, I was here to learn and see the place with new eyes.

 

An almost-empty Kealakekua Bay near the monument. Photo by the author.

Those eyes are bleary at our 7:45 a.m. arrival to Napoopoo Pier—unlike our small group, A.J. has already been up for hours, and is unloading our access-permitted kayaks, floatation devices, paddles and lunch cooler from his truck. We step down a homemade ladder, launch into the clear waters of the bay and receive a short orientation.

“Kealakekua Bay is one of the best protected harbors on Hawaii Island, and Hawaiians have known this for centuries,” A.J. tells us. Near our parked car at Napoopoo Beach he points out the lava rock platform remains of Hikiau heiau—a Native Hawaiian temple I had completely overlooked last time I drove this way. Hundreds of years ago, this was a site of human sacrifice and the center of a community—workers and common Hawaiians lived on this side of the bay, while the alii (chiefs) resided on the opposite side at our destination.

The Captain Cook Monument. Chain partitions designate British soil.
Photo by the author.

I can’t get over how clear the water is. The skies are cloudless and I can see down maybe 50 feet to yellow tang schooling on the bottom. We take a direct route across the crescent bay to the monument, about a mile away. Besides our mini flotilla, there isn’t a single watercraft around. Spinner dolphins, usually a common sight here, are noticeably absent—A.J. says it’s because they’ve recently given birth and steer clear of their usual haunts when they have very young calves.

Six-hundred-foot-tall cliffs tower above us along the water’s edge. I’d all but overlooked them before, but I never will again after what A.J. tells us. According to what is likely a mixture of Hawaiian oral tradition and local lore, the sheer lava tube-pocked rock face is the final resting place of countless chiefs. Upon the death of an alii, commoners would get to work weaving hundreds of feet of sturdy rope from plant fibers and head up to the top of the cliff with the remains. A crew at the top would swing the bone-bearer along the cliff face to a lava tube opening. Once everything was secured, the cave’s secret location would die with its finder: He would be cut free to fall to his death on the rocks below.

Kayaks hauled out on the rocks opposite the monument. Photo by charleschandler/Flicker.

We arrive alongside the monument in what feels like no time. A.J. helps us to time our exit via a shallow tide pool so we don’t tip—the mosquitoes swarm. We leave the kayaks and walk around through some jumbled brush to the monument. There are no facilities here, but A.J. tells us Kona Boys’ staff, along with a number of local volunteers, help to maintain the site and keep it trash-free during yearly cleanups. Old cattle-corrals made from the lava rock remains of even older temples, line the area behind the monument.

Here, we learn about Captain Cook’s arrival during the celebratory makahiki season, his departure and his fateful return after makahiki had completed. A.J. points out an “X” etched into stone that I had never noticed before—it marks the exact spot of Cook’s death. On the plaque from the Commonwealth of Australia near the monument that reads in part, “In Memory Captain James Cook, R.N. the Discoverer of both Australia and these Islands,” the word ‘discoverer’ has been scratched out and reapplied. A.J. tells us that despite the controversial historical events that occurred here, the 100-or-so-square-foot area partitioned by chain rope around the monument isn’t actually part of Hawaii at all, it’s a no-passport needed slice of British soil. In 1877, Princess Likelike deeded the land to the United Kingdom.

We spend almost two hours snorkeling and lounging in the sun nibbling on our early lunch. I swim around to a natural rock arch and watch the fish go through it with each wave. I hover above a moray eel and try to find fish I’d never seen before. I spot at least three. After we’ve been here awhile, the peaceful paradise that we first entered is shattered as several huge tour boats pull up bearing masses of noodle-wielding snorkelers, blaring reggae music and emitting smoke from onboard BBQ grills. Our cue to head home. We paddle back to our starting point hugging the coast.

I’d recommend Kona Boy’s Morning Magic tour to any Kona visitor—not only will you beat the crowds to one of the Island’s most popular spots, you’ll learn a lot in the process.

Moorish idols and yellow tang in Kealakekua Bay. Photo by the author.

The National Park Service and the United States Navy will co-host the 75th commemoration of the attack on Pearl Harbor. This event is also supported by the City and County of Honolulu, the State of Hawaii and the Governor’s Office, members of Hawaii’s congressional delegation, and other branches of the U.S. military.

Pearl Harbor, named for the pearl oysters once harvested there, is the largest natural harbor in Hawaii, a World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument and the only naval base in the United States to be designated a National Historical Landmark. The devastating aerial attack on Pearl Harbor resulted in 2,403 dead and 1178 wounded, and drove the United States into World War II. Pearl Harbor honors this history-changing event with the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites:

The USS Arizona Memorial is a place to learn about this historic attack and pay your respects to the brave soldiers that fell that day. Begin at the Visitor Center where you can watch a film about the attack and view plaques honoring lives lost on that fateful day.  You’ll then take a boat shuttle to the USS Arizona Memorial, a floating memorial built over the sunken hull of the Battleship USS Arizona, the final resting place for many of the ship’s crew. In the shrine room, a marble wall exhibits the names of the men who lost their lives on the Arizona. Poignant and powerful, this is a place where visitors come face to face with the devastating effects of war.

Battleship Missouri Memorial   General Macarthur accepted the unconditional Japanese surrender that ended WWII on September 2, 1945 on the Surrender Deck of the Battleship Missouri Memorial. Now located at Pearl Harbor’s historic Battleship Row, the massive “Mighty Mo” is a living museum, with exhibits spanning three wars and five decades of service.  Explore the decks of this 60,000-ton Battleship, three football fields long and twenty stories tall. Stand on the Surrender Deck and view the documents that ended the war. Take a tour and get special access to restricted areas. You won’t want to miss the ship’s most stunning feature: towering 16-inch guns that could fire a 2,700-pound shell 23 miles.

USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park   The U.S.S. Bowfin (SS-287) is one of the 288 U.S. submarines that carried out the war in the Pacific during World War II. Explore the 10,000 square foot submarine museum to learn about the battle under the seas. A tour of the grounds will take you to a Waterfront Memorial honoring submariners lost in WWII as well as interactive gun and torpedo exhibits.  Step onboard the USS Bowfin, also known as the “Pearl Harbor Avenger,” for a panoramic view of the harbor. Step below decks and walk through an authentic submarine, touring its torpedo room, engine room, and sleeping quarters. In the Bowfin’s claustrophobic quarters you may ask yourself if you have what it takes to be a submariner.

Pacific Aviation Museum   Located within former WWII airplane hangars on Pearl Harbor’s Ford Island, the Pacific Aviation Museum is an immersive aviation museum complete with interactive simulators and exhibits showcasing the stories behind authentic WWII fighter planes and bombers.  Explore the battle in the skies in Hangar 37, a 42,000 square foot airplane hangar that survived the Pearl Harbor attack. See planes like an authentic Japanese Zero and a B-25B Bomber, similar to the one used in the famous “Doolittle Raid” on Japan in 1942. Gain a new perspective on the war at the Pacific Aviation Museum.

USS Oklahoma Memorial   Dedicated on December 7th, 2007, the USS Oklahoma Memorial honors the 429 crewmen who lost their lives in the Pearl Harbor attack. Approximately nine torpedoes hit “The Okie,” capsizing this 35,000-ton battleship in only twelve minutes.  Some crewmen were actually trapped in compartments below deck after the ship capsized. They used hammers and wrenches to signal rescue crews on the surface. Two days after the attack, thirty-two men were rescued from the overturned hull of the Oklahoma.

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Pearl harborbowfin

safari3Safari Helicopters motto is safety first.  Safari utilizes the toughest, most robust helicopter in Hawaii because the safety of passengers and pilots is paramount. Our state-of-the-art Safari A-STARs are flown nowhere near full power; another built-in safety precaution because if the pilot needs a little extra lift, the power is right there. Safety first, then an exciting and unique helicopter adventure is next.  Conditions change daily and even hourly. You can expect Safari Helicopters pilots to fly the safest and most scenic route for the given day. Pilots monitor combine weather data with their intimate knowledge of the varied micro-climates in Hawaii. Each day is different, and that’s where experience comes in.  All Safari Helicopters are FAA Certified, and all pilots all have instrument ratings and extensive experience in all forms of flights throughout the world. Owner Preston Myers requires that all his Safari pilots adhere to the same high standards of professionalism that he personally has carried out over the years. Preston believes that the best way to safely navigate the skies of Kauai is to have new top-of-the-line helicopters, experienced pilots, and a rigorous maintenance schedule with attention to every detail on every flight.  Safari always makes it standard practice to balance the aircraft and make general inspections for each and every flight. “Safety is in the details, not by chance” says Preston Myers. Our policy is to exceed safety standards and practices set forth by the FAA.   For you as our valued customer and precious cargo, know that we’ve gone to great lengths to ensure the quality and comfort of your experience.  Safari combines the right equipment, practices and experience to make this the safest and most comfortable experience possible. After all we want you to relax, and be awestruck at the amazing sights we’re going to show you.

Take a flight to the World’s most active volcano. The Big Island has been erupting almost continuously since 1983, pouring red-hot molten earth into the cool waters of the Pacific Ocean.

All Hawaiian volcanoes are produced by a plume of lava known as the Hawaiian magmatic hot spot. This plume of lava rises up from deep within Earth’s mantle and burns through the seafloor crust to form volcanic mountains that eventually rise above the surface of the sea to form Hawaiian Islands. The Hawaiian Islands are actually just the summits of these massive volcanoes that grew up from the ocean floor as much as 18,000 feet below the water’s surface.

The Big Island is the youngest Hawaiian Island, less than a half a million years old, and its two major volcanoes are Mauna Loa (which includes Kilauea Voclano) and Mauna Kea. These massive volcanoes are a sight to behold from the vantage point of a helicopter (when clouds do not interfere). Mauna Kea rises to 13,796 feet above sea level. Mauna Kea is considered the tallest mountain on Earth if measured from base to summit, towering up more than 6 miles from the ocean bottom.

The volcanic activity of the Hawaiian hot spot lava plume continues today on the Big Island at Kiluaea Volcano, and a Safari Helicopters tour will survey the diverse array of volcanic formations throughout the whole area where this activity has recently occurred and also where it is happening right now!  The aptly named Chain of Craters Road descends 3,700 feet from the summit of Kilauea Volcano to the sea, and has repeatedly been blocked by lava flows with more than 9 miles of the road covered since 1986. The Pu’u O’O Volcano flows into the ocean (fluctuating between Chain of Crater Rd and Kalapan Back Sands Beach) and sends up plumes of volcanic gas and smoke. From a helicopter this is a most impressive sight to behold.

There are four main districts in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park including: the Upper Rift Zone; the Mauna Ulu Zone; the Hilina Pali Zone; and finally the Coastal Zone, which is where the lava from Kilauea Volcano meets the sea (note: our Hawaii helicopter tours do not visit all districts – we only fly to where the current volcanic activity is taking place).  The Upper Rift area of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is where the road begins and where many old craters are located. The landscape in this area is also very lush as it receives much rain. The Mauna Ulu area is only a few miles down the road from the Upper Rift Zone but is much more sparse in vegetation because of lava flows in the mid 1970s.

Also sparse in vegetation is the Hilina Pali zone which has steep cliffs caused by huge landslides. The Coastal Zone is also very sparse with vegetation because of little rainfall and very recent lava flows. Expect to be absolutely amazed at the incredible sights you will see from a Hawaii volcano helicopter tour. There are so many unique land formations and visible volcano history before your eyes that it is difficult to encapsulate it all in words.

If you go online to make your reservation, they will give you a substantial discount.  You must arrive 45 minutes before you flight to go over the safety instructions.  This is a must do when on the Big Island!

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