This is it, folks – the last Hawaii post! I know some of you are sad about that, but I’m excited to share some photos from some of our other adventures as well.
We took it easy on our last day, making our way back to the Kona side of the big island, stopping into a beach or two, hitting up the southernmost restaurant in the U.S., and wrapping up the trip back at our Puka spot near the airport.
But by far the highlight of the day was Punaluu Beach Park. This is a black-sand beach on the south end of the island, famous for spotting sea turtles. We were exhausted by this point in the trip, so one of our friends took a nap in the car while the other took a nap on the sand. Meanwhile, I did what any sane, dead-tired photographer would do: I ran around taking pictures!
First, I loved the beach itself. It’s rocky with some fine waves and some tide pools. Just in from the rocks, the sand is a mystic black, fine to the touch, and perfect for lazing.
Then, the lily pond. Brilliant green pads blanket much of the surface of this calm pond, and simple flowers tinged with purple are sprinkled about. I was also fortunate to catch a Muscovy duck hen paddling about the lily pads with her bright red face.
Aaron discovered a bridge on the other side of the pond, so of course I had to explore, admiring the gigantic bands of Moreton Bay fig tree roots along the way.
This bridge had many holes; it obviously hadn’t been maintained, and I would caution anyone who wishes to check it out. It was still plenty passible, bit I stuck to the main structural beams.
The bridge led me someplace unexpected, and it wound up being one of my favorite parts of the trip.
At first, I thought it was somebody’s residence, with a large deck currently under construction. I was hesitant to get to close, not wishing to trespass on personal property. However, as I continued along the perimeter, I discovered the opposite was true: this was no residence, it certainly wasn’t occupied, and the structures were coming down rather than going up.
I had stumbled upon a decaying complex of small hut-like buildings, wonderfully photogenic in its dilapidation.
I couldn’t quite identify what it once was; I suspected a small resort of some kind. Now, all that remained were trashed rooms, broken glass, walls of graffiti, and roofs punctured by palm trees reclaiming the space from the human intrusion. I was fascinated by the site, every detail mesmerizing. The photographer in me was thrilled.
Coming back home, I poked around a bit, and I ultimately found the information I sought.
The structure was once the Punaluu Village Restaurant, a luxurious building housing a lounge, a dining area, and an outdoor deck and dance floor. In 1975, several tsunamis struck the beach, demolishing the business.
Now, it remains only as ruins, a real treasure for the passing photographer. If you find yourself in the neighborhood, it’s certainly worth checking out, but do please be careful of the sharp debris, the failing structures, and the rotting wood. The deck was particularly treacherous.
Interestingly, a 20-foot mural depicting centuries-old life on the islands was stolen from the site in 2005 (I’m not sure what one would do with such an artifact). Two years later, the original artist, Herb Kawainui Kane, painted a new version, with added details and refinements. “That leaves the thieves with what is now little more than a preliminary sketch. Vengeance is mine.”
I love that photography takes me on these adventures, and I love that blogging about it forces me to reveal these hidden historical gems. Absolutely fascinating!
After that, the day was mostly driving back toward the airport, with a brief stop in Whittington Park (with a spectacularly massive tree! and beach kittens!) before one last tropical sunset.
Our second visit (in truth it was my third, but I was too young to remember my first) to Hawaii was a completely different experience than the previous, but it was all the more enjoyable because of it. We got to explore new spots, and I got to give in to all of my trigger finger’s desires.
I’m certain we’ll be back. For now, mahalo and aloha.