4 Apr 2010, 9:38am
Restoring cultural landscapes Saving Forests
by admin

Easter Sunday Sunrise at Honomalino Beach

Reposted from SOS Forests, Version 1, April 15th, 2006

Honomalino Bay, one of the most protected bays in South Kona, once supported a large fishing and farming community. Numerous pre-contact cultural sites are located along the perimeter of the bay and in the amphitheater-shaped gulch inland of the sand beach. …

Low sea cliffs line most of the water’s edge of Honomalino, but a beautiful pocket beach is set into the northern corner of the bay. The beach consists primarily of black sand, but it appears gray because of an admixture of olivines and calcareous white sand. A shallow sand bar fronts the beach, but drops off quickly on the seaward side to overhead depths and a flat, rocky ocean bottom. … An extensive cocoanut grove, perpetuated by regular replanting by the area residents, covers both the backshore of the beach and adjoining Kapalua Point. Sand drifts extend a considerable distance from the nearshore vegetation into the inland kiawe groves. …

Honomalino Bay cannot be reached from the Hawai’i Belt Highway without a vehicle with four-wheel drive and without crossing private property. There is no convenient public access.

-– from Beaches of the Big Island, by John R.K. Clark. Univ. of Hawaii Press, 1985.

The ocean snores at Honomalino.

At night the only sound is the rhythmic rumble of the surf, crashing and foaming every 10 to 15 seconds. Snoring people make the most noise on the inhale; the ocean makes the most noise on the exhale, sonorously breathing out the energy of ocean swells in curling drumbeats on the sand. The waves rise and fall in a chorus line, closing their hollow tubes like long zippers around the half moon of Honomalino Beach.

Just before dawn on Easter Sunday, in a handful of colorful dome and tarpaulin tents set back in the coconut grove, sleepy campers sit up, rub their eyes, and huddling in their sleeping bags, gaze out through tent flaps at the vast Pacific Ocean. Honomalino is on the leeward side, the western side of the Big Island. The sun rises, at Honomalino, behind the huge shield of Mauna Loa, and strikes the water first while the beach and coconut grove are still shadowed in twilight. The shining ocean, the cool dawn breeze off the water, and the hypnotic snoring of the surf make it very difficult to shrug off the sleepiness.

This being Easter Sunday, however, efforts are made. Short, fat candles are lit and placed in the sand in front of tents. Prayers are said, silently and individually, by the early risers. Then one by one or in small groups, the people walk slowly down to the water, wade into the waist-high surf, and perform ablutions.

Splashing water in ritual bathing, and chanting ancient Hawaiian invocations and supplications, the worshipers sing praises first to the sea, and then turning their backs to the waves, sing praises to the island. A couple, bound at the waist by a silky white rope made of native fibers, wade together into the waves and renew their vows, to the sea, the land, the sky, and to each other.

A young man, large and strapping with long black hair over his shoulders, marches into the surf. He shouts his vows over the ocean’s roar and beats his flattened palms against the water. Throwing spray high above his head, he forms sparkling halos in the side-shafting morning sunlight. Devotions complete, he backs out of the water, always facing the sea in a gesture of respect and brotherhood. Back on damp sand, he turns, bends down, and scratches something in the sand with his finger.

He has written PA’A.

PA’A is Hawaiian for steadfastness, to hold on tight, the way a limpet clings to the rock. Even the endless, pounding surf cannot break the mighty grip of the tiny limpet. That is PA’A.

Children start to gather near the water. Little kids, toddlers even, begin to dig and splash and generally frolic in the frothy skim flowing up and back, up and back. Under the coconut trees, large women in flowered muumuus open ice chests and place enormous quantities of food on rickety picnic tables. Barbeques are lit, and the faint aroma of lighter fluid and burning briquettes spice the sea breeze. It is going to be one heck of a great breakfast. Laughter, chatter, and Hawaiian music from assorted boom boxes obscure the rumbles of the waves. The ocean keeps on snoring anyway, seemingly oblivious.

In the dawning light of Easter Sunday morning at Honomalino Beach, vows are made in front of God and Man. Bonds are reconfirmed, and commitments recommitted. Symbolic acts of devotion, love, and celebration, and expressions of unwavering resolve, are performed where sea meets land meets sky meets the caretakers, God’s Children, the keepers of the Promise, the tenders of Creation.

4 Apr 2010, 9:38am
by Mike


The earth, the solid foundation


The heavens, the starry firmament

pa’a ‘oia ma ka pono

Steadfast in righteousness, strongly attached to the truth



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