Hike to Kaena Point
This isolation has allowed the State to designate Kaena Point as a wildlife refuge and to provide a safe nesting area for the Laysan Albatross.
Daughter #1 and I hiked along the Leeward Coastline during her recent visit from Los Angeles. It is an easy, level hike but very hot and little shade (the same is true for the North Shore hike).
Most of Kaena Point itself is lava rock covered with sand and shrubs.
Within these shrubs the adult albatross digs out a shallow hole where it lays one egg each year.
Dogs are forbidden at Kaena Point because of the vulnerability of the eggs and chicks. Hikers are required to stay on paths marked out by white posts.
Even with these restrictions we were able to see many nests, one of which had an egg and another a newly-hatched albatross chick.
At the end of the point the sand disappears leaving the lava rock exposed to the surf. In the winter the waves can grow to be as high as 30-40 feet at Kaena Point. Unfortunately, the waves break directly onto the rocks so even the best surfer in the world would only be able to ride one of those waves one time...and then die!
In the summer, however, the ocean is calm. Upon our arrival we found a bonus surprise. Two months earlier a mommy Monk Seal (an endagered species) had given birth to a pup out on the lava rocks on the point. The mother had finally left (or "abandoned") the pup that morning.
Observant volunteers for NOAA had been waiting for that moment and immediately tip-toed out and placed a tag, back markings and a small radio transmitter on the pup. (Calling it a pup is somewhat ironic since it had already grown to be at least 6-7 feet long and must have weighed over 250 pounds . . . all from mother's milk!
When a mother leaves, the pup is on their own. As we watched (from behind temporary orange plastic fencing that kept us 100+ feet away) the pup wobbled across the sharp rocks down to the ocean and hopped in for the first time on its own. (I put the red arrow in the photo to help you find the pup in the water).
We left soon after and felt as though we had fallen into a National Geographic special!
It was a good morning hike that took a little over 2 1/2 hours including all the stops, photographs and seal watching.
Having now walked to the point from both sides I must say that this Leeward route is the most scenic and enjoyable. The North Shore route is somewhat further back from the ocean but does pass long-vanished sites where US troops once trained before setting off to the Pacific to fight the Japanese during World War II.
The military's presence is still felt with the highly visible radar/communication dome sitting at the highest spot on the bluffs above Kaena Point.
If you are a botanist you might want to bring along a book with descriptions of endemic Hawaiian plants as you will be sure to find more than a few along the way.
During the winter and early spring the area also affords a wonderful venue for watching the Humpback whales, something I normally prefer to do from the opposite end of the island at Makapuu Point. But that's another story...
Oh, several days later at Hawaii Kai we watched jellyfish swimming in the murkey water of the boat harbor. If you look closely at the first photo (or click on it to enlarge it) you can see several floating just beneath the surface.
The second photo shows me holding one upside-down in my hand. You can see how perfectly clear and colorless this particular jellyfish is--without sail and without anything but the smallest fringe of tiny tentacles.
The world is a beautiful place and full of wonders if we only take a little time to pause and enjoy it from time to time. And you don't have to live in Hawaii to enjoy it, either. It's just a wonderful right where you live!