Friday, February 1, 2008


Almost all cultures have stories of places that exist in a different realm: Shangri-la, Peach Blossom Spring, the land behind the waterfall's veil. Waikapuna is such a place.

Most of the landfall of Ka'u meets the ocean with black lava cliffs against which the waves pound mightily, sending up white explosions of sea-spray. Waikapuna is one of the rare spots where the sea and the land meet on the same level, in a bay of the ocean and a cradle of the land. Directly behind the beach is a ring of hills that block off almost all indication of the rest of the world. All that matters when you are at Waikapuna is the sound of the ocean, the feel of the sun and the wind on one's skin, the warmth of the sand, the cool of the water. It is a place both elemental and unusually gentle for this rocky coast.

It is a quiet place, but rich. There are rock tidepools and inlets full of creatures, and there is a sheltered, sandy pool which fills and empties as the tide changes. There is a beautiful miniature bay into which perfectly formed waves break continually. On the sea-cliffs there are little pools full of fluer-de-sel salt crystals which glitter in the sunlight and taste like the essence of ocean. One of my favorite things about Waikapuna are the heliotrope trees. There are heliotrope trees elsewhere, but these trees seem to have personalities that shelter and welcome one to the place. In the night their beautiful branches seem like a net woven with stars, and in the daytime the sunlight glances through their leaves and bees drone amongst their flowers.

Waikapuna (lit. water (of) the springs) was much loved in ancient times for its three pools of spring water. The topmost pool was pure fresh water and was used for drinking. The middle pool was somwhat brackish and used for bathing, and the third pool even more mixed with salt water and used for washing. In the late 1800's an earthquake destroyed the spring and the pools and there is only one of the pools left in a cleft of rock deep in underbrush, and it is very brackish. The ruins and remains of many house-sites surround the beach.

And it is much loved today, though no one lives there anymore. Returning from a visit there, one feels that one has been somewhere far away.

1 comment:

bsug said...

I was following the coast with google maps from south point and noticed what I thought was ruins. I figured out later it was Waikapuna Bay. Is your picture and description of the structure I see north of the bay in this link? I was considering hiking but didn't seem there were any roads near here.,-155.57919&spn=0.003636,0.005348&t=h&z=18