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Hiking to Kawakiu Bay, Part 2

During my previous trip to Moloka`i, I hiked north and west from the closed resort at Kaluakoi, following a path along the beaches. When I got to this beach, I decided to turn back due to approaching darkness.

This visit, I took an inland route and ended up on this far side of the enormous lava rock outcropping that dominates this particular beach. I wish there were someone standing at the base to give a size comparison. My guess is that the cliff is at least 75 feet tall, perhaps as much as 100 feet. You can even see the strata of multiple ancient volcanic eruptions, each laying down a layer of rock differing in color and density from the layer below.

Pressing on, I encountered the ubiquitous waves pounding the rocks, shooting spray high up into the air. It is marvelous to view, but one has to be careful not to get too close — it is easy to get wet — even easier to get salt spray on your camera lens.

I love these seaside spots where the rocks are just above the water level so that the waves cover them with water then retreat. These tide pools are remarkably full of life — ‘opihi (limpets), seaweed, crabs and small fish. Each, in turn, has a strategy for dealing with the rushing and retreating surf. Some just cling to the rocks, some hide in holes and some try to stay above the wave action.

One of my favorite visual treats is the contrasts between the black rocks, the blue water (reflecting the sky) and the white waves and foam. I could watch it for hours.

Ah, one of the landmarks I was seeking — the heiau that overlooks the ocean. This one I was able to scout in advance with the help of Tom, the owner of the B&B where I stayed. Before I started my hike, we used Google maps with the satellite images and zoomed in to the max to locate possible sites for the heiau. This one was right where we thought it should be.

It is a beautiful location for a sacred site — too bad about the keawe growing in the middle of it.

As the sun darted behind the clouds then into the open sky repeatedly, I arrived at Kawakiu Bay just in time to enjoy seeing some impressive waves. It is quite a hike through rough terrain with very primitive paths — a fact, which I suppose keeps the surfers away — but what a missed opportunity.

And such a pretty beach. I could have easily spent the entire day here with just my thoughts to keep me company. Maybe next trip.

After a period of contemplation, I turned back. Then I realized that in my dogged determination to get to Kawakiu Bay, I missed some spectacular rock outcroppings that the ocean was playing upon. So hard to leave.

More spray — enough to keep the high-level tide pools full of water.

Since the pathways are not well worn, it was impossible for me to follow the exact same path home that had brought me to Kawakiu Bay. Fortunately, it was easy to keep the ocean on my right and not too far away — absolutely no fear of getting lost.

Eventually, I popped out of the brush to discover that I had found the far end of the closed golf course. For those who do not play, this is a yardage marker telling the golfer that it is 200 yards to the center of the green. The course is getting so overgrown that it almost looks like a movie alien is reaching out to pull our hero (Mr. 200) into its gaping mouth. If this side of the island experienced more rain, that yard marker would have already been devoured.


I played this course some years ago before it closed — so I have seen it when it was in prime condition — and now am seeing it as it is returning to nature. I have to confess that this green plus the green-side sand traps were more attractive in those days. Perhaps when Mother Nature has had time and moisture to work her magic, the results will be more visually rewarding.

Covering the fairways were all kinds of non-USGA-approved plants. I have no idea what this one is — and I do not recall ever seeing one before. But it was an interesting subject for a photographer — so I played with it in black and white then sepia. I am experimenting with sepia, trying to really match the look and feel of the real thing. This one is not great but not bad either.

After returning to my rental car and driving toward the B&B, I spotted this full rainbow just as I entered Maunaloa town. Moloka`i was saying farewell and inviting me back. How could I turn down such a marvelous invitation? I do not yet know when — but I will be back.

Next week, on to Maui.

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com