Driving can get tiresome day after day, so we opted to return to Anaeho’omalu Bay (locally known as A-Bay) rather than explore further south as we’d originally planned. First, we stopped to take a look at the world-class Hapuna beach. The stretch of white sand was extraordinarily beautiful but crowded, so we didn’t stay long. We opted instead for a hike at the less accessible Makalawena Beach, which draws fewer people. Continuing south, we made a couple stops before going to the beach. First was the Malama Trail to the Puako Petroglyph Park near the Mauna Lani Resort. The trail leads to an 800-year-old Native Hawaiian site with thousands of petroglyphs (kii pohaku, meaning “image stone”), mainly of warriors and other human forms. On the way, we saw a vivid red house finch (Haemorhous mexicanus) and his mate, a pair of tiny buff colored birds with dark backs, and lots of little red-eyed mongooses (Herpestes javanicus) that scampered around the lava rocks like squirrels. After this, we visited the Queens Market near A-Bay, an outdoor mall where we met a friendly lady at Malibu shirts who sold us a new hoodie with a vintage pattern of the Hawai’i Surf Club for Joseph and a tee shirt featuring humu humu nuku nuku a pua’a, the Hawaiian state fish, also known as the reef triggerfish (Rhinecanthus rectangulus). On the way out, I spotted a wild goat with a jet black coat posing on a small tower of rock in a lava field near the highway.
The drive out to Mahai’ula Beach was passable but a little rough. It’s not far, but the road crawls over lava rock. Plenty of sedans make their way in, though. Inexplicably, a couple of short stretches of tarmac had been laid down over the lava in the middle of the route, and these came complete with speed bumps and traffic signs warning us to keep the speed down! Mahai’ula Beach is in Kekaha State Park, which also includes beautiful shorebirds, anchialine pools, a historic fishing camp, and our destination, Makalawena Beach. Several young women were working at the anchialine pools, probably part of a restoration effort to return native Hawaiian red shrimp (‘opae’ula, Halocaridina rubra) to the area. Anchialine pools are landlocked freshwater pools with an underground connection to the ocean. These particular pools were flooded with sand from the 2011 tsunami in Japan that damaged the Fukashima Daiichi nuclear power plant and killed thousands of people. The fishing camp at Kekaha State Park has never been accessible by road. It was built in 1880 by a fisherman named John Kaelemakule as his home, and it’s now a state-owned historic landmark. Reaching Makalawena Beach requires a mile-long hike over a jagged, black aa trail. It’s worth it. The hiker is rewarded with white sand dunes, acres of beach morning glory (Convolvulus cneorum), and a gorgeous beach without big crowds. Though the water was choppy, I ventured in, getting a good soak in the surprisingly chilly waters of the South Pacific.
Rather than try an unknown restaurant that may or may not be good, we decided to revisit the Lava Lava Beach Club for dinner. After waiting in line just to talk to the hostess, we were told the wait for a table would be two and a half hours. There are a lot worse places to be than the beach club’s waiting area, with a large green lawn, a vintage Volkswagen bus turned mini bar, and a cheesy, flashing, lighted “Aloha” sign. I enjoyed a Mai Tai while watching the sunset while Joseph enjoyed a nice red wine. The wait turned out to be only an hour and a quarter before we were seated outside listening to live music and I was enjoying ahi with saffron jasmine rice and etouffe sauce, fresh vegetables, and another Big Swell IPA. Joseph had a signature sizzling shrimp dish and an IPA. The music was provided by a young woman who sang and played the guitar, giving us exceptional, bluesy takes on some of my favorite rock songs. Unfortunately, we didn’t get her name. While enjoying dinner, some of the resident wild cats started prowling around in search of ear scratches and handouts. One warmed up to Joseph while another shy kitty hunched up on a surfboard stacked along the fence, watching everything with wary feline eyes.