BEST BEACHES ON BIG ISLAND | HOW TO PROTECT + PRESERVE
BEACH DATE DAY SHENANIGANS
For the past several months, Ryan and I have talked about visiting this beautiful gem of a beach Ryan had found during his first year in Hawai'i and finally decided to road trip down south to explore this hidden oasis. Ryan fell in love with this beautiful gem when he discovered it with his roommate two years ago. We debated various activities for our Sunday-Funday date day, and came to a quick decision to adventure to the other side of the island! Although we didn’t start our hike to the beach until 1:30pm, Ryan warned me that there wasn’t much shade along the hike so we made sure to bring enough water, skin protection, and hats for the both of us.
WHY THIS BEACH IS SO SACRED TO THE HAWAIIANS
Along our hike, Ryan told me all about the history of this isolated region of the island. As we trekked across this barren, lava rock landscape, he pointed out several Ancient Hawaiian shelters that were created by lava flows many years ago. Throughout this entire area, there are numerous lava tubes underground that were extremely important to the Polynesians that first discovered this island. Many believe that the district of Ka'u is where the first humans first stepped foot on this beautiful Hawaiian archipelago.
He further explained that this area had actually been at risk of being bought by a thousand acre resort called the Hawaiian Riviera. Although there was an incredible amount of money to be made from this development, residents from Miloli’i protested the building of this mega-resort saying that this addition could ruin their rich fishing grounds and way of life. Hearing this story made my body radiate with a sense of pride for this fight they had won. As we approached the coast after walking three miles down the mountain, I saw the first glimpse of the stunning bay surrounded by coconut trees and my heart began to pound with excitement!
PROTECTING THE ANCHIALINE PONDS
Ryan and I first spent some time at the anchialine ponds that were hidden in the lava field on the Northern end of the beach. At first, I was struck by the sheer beauty of these ponds. As Ryan collected some coconuts for us to replenish our electrolytes from the long hike, I went to inspect the ponds more closely. What I saw was truly disheartening. I couldn’t believe all the trash that lay barren all across the beautiful ponds. Needless to say for those living in Hawai’i, these anchialine ponds are one of Hawaii’s most threatened ecosystems. I wasn’t sure if this was trash coming in from the currents of the ocean or if this was people bringing in trash and leaving it there. Nonetheless, we made sure to pick up the trash that was covering the ground.
HIKING TO THE BEACH
After spending some time admiring this site, Ryan and I hiked along the Kealanuipuni Trail which is a trail system that extends around the entire island. Ancient Hawaiians built this pathway by laying smoother rocks on top of the jagged a'a lava flows for easier transportation over land. These trails linked the important areas around the island and now reveals the landmarks that were most significant in ancient times. As we carefully followed the trail, we soon discovered the majestic paradise of the isolated Pohue Bay in the distance. Before I even set down my bag under the coconut tree, Ryan immediately sprinted into the playful waves. We snacked on cheese, crackers, hummus, and sipped on a tiny bottle of wine while we cooled off under a shady palm.
We saw a group of three campers who were fishing off in the distance and an elderly hiker that jumped in the water for a few moments and soon departed. Other than that, we had the entire beach to ourselves! I was hoping to spot a Hawksbill turtle since Pohue Bay is known to be a critical habitat for this endangered species, but because of the intense surf, we didn't have any luck. Even though I didn’t spot any turtles on this trip, Ryan comforted me by letting me know he had seen cages to protect the nesting areas on a previous trip.
LESSONS LEARNED FROM SPENDING THE DAY HERE
As Ryan and I made our way back to the car around sunset, we reflected on what an amazing day it had been. It had not only been remarkable to find a new gem, but to have this place practically to ourselves was amazing! We hope that we have encouraged others to take care of this aina (land) if they do decide to make the sojourn to this pristine bay. Our helpful hint is to bring a trash bag down with you to assist with picking up some of the rubbish that is left behind. Together, we can all take part in maintaining these sacred ponds and ensuring that they are kept pristine. We are excited to further explore other opportunities to protect these landscapes and conserve the hidden gems nestled within this beautiful island.