Hawaii: It’s a big island with lots of layers

By | September 18th, 2010

This is Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Park on Hawaii’s Big Island, where layer upon layer of stones from Pololu Valley were gathered to form an ancient temple for Kamehameha the Great.

It may also be a fitting metaphor for the island.

This part of the Aloha State isn’t just a pretty picture. It’s more like an onion — peel back the layers and it reveals much more of itself than you could have imagined.

It’s an island of microclimates, for example.

Down in the valley, amid black volcanic rock and golf courses where we’re staying at Mauna Lani Point, it’s desert; in the foothills overlooking the North Pacific where cows and horses graze, it’s mediterranean, up on the Mauna Kea Observatories, it’s an alpine climate; and as you weave northward along Highway 19, it’s tropical rainforest.

The change from one to the other is jarring.

Today’s highlight was stumbling upon Pololu Valley Lookout on the north side of the island. Highway 270 abruptly dead-ends, and you’re faced with this impossibly beautiful seascape of mountains, cliffs and ocean.

Imagine a postcard of Hawaii with the saturation turned way, way up. That’s what it looked like. I rest my case.

One more impression before I sign off: fear. The boys aren’t really accomplished mountain-climbers. These warning signs made them think twice before descending to the beach.

A little fear is a good thing when you’re a parent. At least you don’t have to worry about one of your children falling off a cliff.

Or maybe, not as much.

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