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The Big Island: Kailua-Kona, Part 2

The oceanfront along Kailua Bay is considered the heart and soul of Kailua-Kona. The seawall protects the sidewalks, street and shops from ocean waves which can be large enough to soak the unsuspecting tourist even on a relatively calm day (note the water on top of the seawall and on the sidewalk).

On the north side of the bay, lies Niumalu Beach (literally, shade of the coconut tree), commonly known as Kanuha Beach. This marks both the beginning and end of the 2.4-mile rough-water swim which starts the most famous Ironman Triathlon in the world. This swimmer was in training for the competition that was to start a few weeks after I visited Kona.

I suspect this swimmer was not in training — just enjoying an early morning swim.

Across the street was a young musician sharing his music (Bob Dylan while I was there) for tips. If you love Hawai`i, you do what you can to earn a living so you can stay.

Also across the street was what appears to be an apartment complex — but the first one I have ever encountered with the plumbing and some of the wiring outside the building. It is not what one expects to find in the resort town of Kailua-Kona — it was such a curiosity that I had to snap the photo.

More along my expectations is the King Kamehameha Hotel. I stayed here for a few nights on my first visit to Kona. I loved the hotel because of the numerous displays of Hawai`ian artifacts in the lobby and shop areas. The hotel is situated on one of the most historic sites in all of Hawai`i. King Kamehameha the Great established his royal residence adjacent to the current site of his namesake hotel.

Two surprises during this visit. The first is that the hotel is now owned by Courtyard by Marriott and its official name is Courtyard King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel. The second surprise was that in March of 2011, a tsunami hit Kailua-Kona and did moderate damage to the lobby and shops. It is all cleaned up now and back to its pre-tsunami condition.

The beach here is one of the best in the area — a fact not lost on an outrigger canoe club that makes this spot its home location.

The beach is next to the pier where the cruise ships drop off and pick up their passengers. Naturally, the waterway is open to paddleboarders and other water sport enthusiasts.

Reconstructed by King Kamehameha the Great between 1812-1813, the Ahu'ena Heiau stands as a temple dedicated to Lono, who was the Hawai`ian God of peace, agriculture and prosperity. The heiau is on the register of National Historic Landmarks as one of the most important of Hawai`i's historic sites.

Members of Kamehameha's council frequently met with him at the Ahu'ena Heiau for ritual prayers and to instruct Kamehameha's young heir in the ways of wise government.

Additionally, three historic events occurred here which established Ahu'ena Heiau as one of the most historically significant sites in all of Hawai`i:

1. King Kamehameha I died on this site on May 8, 1819.

2. Kamehameha's son, Liholiho, who became king of Hawai`i following his father's death, ended the kapu system, which was the rigid system of laws that had been in effect for many years.

3. In 1820, the first Christian missionaries from New England were granted permission to come ashore here.

Carvings representing ancestral gods stand on the heiau. Kamehameha followed rituals honoring the gods, to assure their blessings for the Hawai`ian people.

In the heiau, the dominant image was of Kalaemoku, a chief deified for his healing of acute diseases. Carved upon Kalaemoku's helmet was a perched bird.

Note that the public is not allowed to enter the heiau.

To be continued.

Life is good.

B. David

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