There are many wondrous, enigmatic and fascinating attractions on the Big Island of Hawaii, some better known than others, many out of the way and generally off the beaten track. Tour Guide Hawaii has produced an encyclopedic collection of the most up-to-date information, presented as short GPS-cued videos, in an app downloadable to iPhone and iPod Touch that covers the entire Big Island, highlighting the popular and the uncrowded, the famous and the secluded, the adventurous and the relaxing.
La’aloa Beach County Park
La’aloa (meaning “very sacred”) Beach Park is a small, but fascinating, beach. The beach is also called “Magic Sands”, name for the fact that during most of the summer and fall, it is a beautiful sandy beach. However, winter and spring storms wash the sand offshore, exposing a rocky terrace. With the onset of summer currents, the sands return. However, even when the shoreline is rocky, the water is still floored by smooth sand, making this a really pleasant place to swim, or just wade, once you scramble over the rocks and into the water.
The surf break is short, but spectacular, here, and many locals boogie board and body surf. Because of the violent, near shore nature of the break, it is not recommended for beginners. However, it is easy and fun to wade in up to your waist and feel the awesome power of Mama Kai’s nalu (goddess of the sea’s surf). At times of low surf, snorkeling here is wonderful, especially around the southern point and the rocks below; don’t go in if there’s any surf at all. Obey the signs, heed the Lifeguard’s advice.
Frequently dived but rarely visited by snorkelers, highly accessible, beautiful coral gardens, wild underwater topography (caves! canyons!) and many reef fish are to be found in the small bay immediately south of the parking lot at La’aloa. Although the entry is over a stony beach (wear reef walkers!) and somewhat awkward, snorkeling in this little bay is safe for even beginners.
The remains of Haukalua Heiau, makai of the parking lot, is very sacred to the native Hawai’ians and a hotly contested archeological site. Most of the temple grounds were dismantled to build the parking lot and the current stone platform built and filled in with the remnants. This has made the local population highly protective of what is left of their temple. Although not fenced off, visitors are asked not to wander the grounds of the heiau, disturb stones or walls
Seemingly, not much is known about this site for certain; family stories and oral traditions, though somewhat contradictory, place it as a temple of some importance. However, the whole area represents the sad and embarrassing fact of how many of these sacred sites and archeological treasures have been treated in Hawai’i. A 800 year-old temple in any other state in the Union would be protected as a park and studied as an archeological resource. In Hawaii it is made into a parking lot.
An additional historical note, the spot where the restrooms now stand is the original site of St. Peter’s Church, the blue church which currently sits at the north end of Kahalu’u Beach by Ku’emanu Heiau. St Peter’s was placed on poles and carried by hand and dragged by donkey down Ali’i Dr. to its current position, before the road was paved, in 1912.
A county facility, La’aloa Beach Park boasts showers, toilets and running water in addition to a volleyball court and lifeguards stationed throughout the day (except State Holidays).
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All media copyright 2009 by Donald B. MacGowan. All rights reserved.