Christmas in Hawaii: Day Four

Click here to get to the beginning of the story.

You would think that after a fun-filled Christmas Day, we would want to relax and hang around Volcano. Nope, we had to have an adventure: a trip to Punalu'u Beach, the Black Sands Beach, and Pu'uhonua O Honaunau, the City of Refuge.

Some background information on Punalu'u: The sand is made from volcanic basalt from Kilauea. If you look closely in the granules, you can see small pieces of olivine, which, in it's gem form, is also called peridot and chrysolite. Small areas are fed by submerged freshwater springs, which creates extremely cold regions in an otherwise temperate bay. Another cool thing about Punalu'u is the anchialine ponds, which are home to rare algial and invertebrate life forms. There are only about 700 of these ponds in the U.S., all of them in the State of Hawaii.

And some background information on Pu'uhonua O Honaunau: I'll call it "the City of Refuge" from now on, to make it easier. The City of Refuge was built as, well, a refuge for criminals and runaways. If you could make it to the City, usually by swimming, without dying, you were granted amnesty. There was also a small site of worship and a royal landing bay, which is now inhabited by green sea turtles. The area is protected under the National Parks System and is open to visitors year round.

Ahem. Now that you have your Hawaiian history lesson, some pictures:

The baby didn't even make it out of Volcano. She fell asleep in the car almost immediately, but we refused to let her miss the experience of being at her first black sand beach. Of course, she didn't wake up, so ... well, she missed it anyway.

There's my three-year-old, hanging in her adorbs rash guard and ruffled bikini bottoms. After this picture, she took off like a shot towards the anchialine pools to check out the shrimp.

We had to reel everyone back in for a family photo op. The baby, clearly, is still asleep.

We had to stop near Na'aleahu (the U.S.'s southernmost town) because we crossed paths with an L&L Hawaiian Barbeque joint. I don't even know how to describe this goodness. It's American, Asian, and Hawaiian fare, so you can get anything from a burger to beef curry and rice. My oldest decided, at this meal, that chicken katsu is her absolute favorite Hawaiian dish, as long as she doesn't have to eat the katsu sauce. You know what that means? She likes chicken fingers.


By the time we got to the City of Refuge, everyone was awake and ready to walk.

This shot captures the essence of the City of Refuge. In the foreground is the royal landing bay, which was off-limits to non-royals and is now off-limits because of the turtles. I prefer to believe that the spirits of the ancient Hawaiians are using the turtles to protect their parking areas. In the background is the place of worship. There are wooden carvings looking out over the water as if searching for refugees; others guard the chapel. They are extremely similar to the carved faces on Easter Island.

{ Image source: Wikipedia }

Surprised? Don't be: the Polynesian triangle stretches to New Zealand in the south and west, Easter Island in the east, and Hawaii in the north. It encompasses Samoa, Tuvalu, Tonga, and the Cook Islands, to name a few others, and the inhabitants and descendants share similar language, culture, and belief systems. It makes sense that the moai at Rapa Nui (i.e. Easter Island) would be similar to the monoliths at Honaunau.

Wow, I got preachy again.

Anyway, we had grand plans to drive up Saddle Road and hit the Manua Kea Observatory, but after a day of driving, diving, and walking, we were exhausted. We decided to go back to our place and drink instead ... and it was the best decision we could have made. We lit a fire, curled up with the kiddos, and drained a bottle of wine before jumping into the whirlpool tub that, amazingly, EVERY CABIN had!

Other posts about our Christmas in Hawaii:
Days One and Two
Day Three
Days Five and Six
Day Seven
The Rest

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