Hello Friends and Family,

1981 - Hawa‘i, the Big Island, Part 1

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My next major trip was to Hawai‘i, the Big Island. Why do they call it "the Big Island"? Because it is larger than the states of Rhode Island and Delaware combined. If you chose to drive around the island, plan on a full-day trip — that's how big it is. It is also nicknamed "The Orchid Isle" because of the number of orchid growers located there, particularly in the Hilo area.

Seen here is the small but placid beach in front of the hotel where I chose to stay — the King Kamehameha Hotel (as it was known at the time — it is now part of the Courtyard chain). Note that at one time this property was home to Kamehameha the Great, who united the islands into one kingdom (partly by force and partly by diplomacy). The hotel was filled with interesting historical artifacts related to Kamehameha and his dynastic family. I hope it still is.

Turning around, one sees the royal Ahu'ena Heiau — a temple of peace and prosperity. It was built by King Kamehameha between 1812 and 1813 to honor Lono, the god of fertility. It served as the king's personal refuge since the immediate area was his home for the last years of his life. Many ritual prayers took place here, but it was not a place of human sacrifice.

You are not welcome to visit the heiau — so you must enjoy it from the beach or adjoining grassy area. Ahu’ens is not only a National Historic Landmark but considered to be one of the most important historic sites in the Aloha State. The temple was restored in the 1950s, became a Designated National Historic Landmark in 1962, and three decades later, was added to the Hawaii State Register of Historic Places.

I love this carving — reminds me that the football season has just started — Touchdown!

From this location, you also have a wonderful view of the ocean and coastline. I recall that the hotel visible on the shoreline was named the Kona Surf. (Its name has changed but I doubt you care much about that).

The Kona area is home to many boats, both commercial and private. If you are into big game fishing, check this endorsement, "Kona Fishing is quite possibly the best in the world when it comes to Big Game. The sheer number of trophy pelagics that can be found here is staggering. On any given day, you may encounter Blue and Striped Marlin, Mahi Mahi, Yellow-fin Tuna (Ahi), Wahoo (Ono), and Short-billed Spearfish. And when we say on any given day, we mean it. The thing which makes Kona such a dream location is that all these species are present all year round."

Another thing for which the Big Island is known is coffee. The combination of the rich volcanic soil and the perfect tropical climate produces some of the best coffee beans in the world. You can visit the plantations and processing facilities — followed by free samples.

Because the Big Island was formed by volcanic eruptions, it has landforms that few places on Earth can compete with. For example, check out ‘Akaka Falls just north of Hilo. The drop is 422 feet — the view is priceless.

And if you did not notice the rainbow in the previous photo — here is a closer shot. It doesn't get much better than this.

You may find this statue familiar if you ever watched the TV series "Hawaii 5-0" (original or the newer one). As you can read on the base, it is a statue of King Kamehameha I. But what you may not know is that this is not the original statue that was commissioned in 1879. American sculptor Thomas R. Gould completed the work in his studio in Rome, Italy — and the statue was shipped to Honolulu. Unfortunately, the voyage was ill-fated, and the ship burned and sank, leaving the statue beneath the ocean somewhere near the Falkland Islands. A new statue was eventually recast from the original mold and sent to Honolulu where it was erected in front of Ali’iolani Hale which eventually became an administrative building and now houses the Supreme Court of Hawaii as well as the Judiciary History Center. That statue is the one with which you are familiar from TV.

Ironically, within weeks of the second statue’s arrival, the original one also arrived in Honolulu – it had been found in a junkyard in the Falkland Islands. Now Hawai‘i had two statues! King Kalakaua recalled a prophecy of a Kahuna (that the statue should be erected on Kamehameha's home island) and thus sent that original casting to King Kamehameha’s birthplace near the town of Kapa’au on Big Island. That is the statue in the photo below.

There are two other statues – one is located near Hilo, also on Big Island, and the third replica was commissioned in 1969 when Hawai‘i attained statehood and stands at the Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C. Twice a year, on May Day and on King Kamehameha’s birthday (June 11), handmade leis are draped all over the statues to honor the king. The lei-covered statue is a sight to behold!

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

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