Offerings to Keoniloa, God of the Sea

Sunny.  80.  Ocean blue.  Ocean green.  Waves steady.  Low tide today at 9:28AM.

Took a 2 hour hike along the Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail.  This is an up and down trail along the southern shore of the island.  It begins in the County Park right next to the Hyatt and heads east from Shipwrecks Beach.

At the county park an older Hawai’ian man with a great bushy white beard got out of a beat up pick up, slung a plastic bag over his shoulder and headed out along the trail.  I followed a bit later.

There was a blue tent pitched not far east of the parking lot, also not far from the sign that read No Camping in County Parks.  The trail goes up over a lithified dune into Pa’a Dunes (dry and rocky).  All along the way trails worn down by hikers, runners and island fisherfolk weave in and out, sometimes three, sometimes only one.  One trail finds shade, if there is any and another finds the edge nearest the ocean.  Through Pa’a I hiked the edge trail going out and the shade trail coming back.

After the dunes come a stretch of sandstone pinnacles (think Lake T’ai rocks) eroded by wind and rain and ocean into fantastic shapes, shapes that any Chinese literati would make a home for in their study.  On a tide pool just below the sand pinnacles I saw the Hawai’ian man waking in flip-flops collecting something from the pool area just vacated by low tide.  On the way back I went out there myself and tried to figure out what he was after.  The only thing I saw were sea slugs.  Are they edible?

The trail runs up hill from the pinnacles to a bay filled with black lava rocks covered with a green lichen.  These rocks, stacked carefully to form a huge structure, look like other Hawai’ian temples or heiau’s, but these are so old that no one, not even the Hawai’ians know its name or whether it was ever a heia’u.  It’s called the fishing temple, the assumption being that offerings to Keoniloa, god of the sea, placed here would ensure good fishing.  No one really knows.

After crossing just behind the heia’u, the trail strikes out across another sacred landscape, the Poipu golf course, scene of many of pro golf’s most important contests.  Why?  Well, where the trail used to run near the edge people fell off as the ledge crumbled.  They died.  So, the trail now runs along the greens for about 300 yards.  There are signs to make sure hikers look for golfers and vice versa. 

I stopped about three-quarters along the way and struck out off the trail to find Makau-wahi sinkhole (Fear, Break Through). It is a small part of the largest limestone caves found in Hawai’i. Paleoecology and archaeology have found evidence here of how the first humans affected the local biome.  This is one of only a few such sites in the world.

The walk back, with the sun higher, became hot and somewhat onerous, so I headed back to the lanai for a rest.

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