Friday, January 4, 2013

Day 2 - Green Sand Beaches - South Point & WIND!

What a spectacular day!

After debriefing in the morning, off we went to tour the southeastern coast of the Big Island.

Taking the southern road route around the Big Island gave us moment after moment of shield volcano views and ocean views. Professor Van Kooten seen below explained detailed basalt geology of the Hawaiian Islands and entertained a bevy of questions from eager participants.

Rough a'a basalt from a 100 year old lava flow area on the south east coast of the Big Island
Often we would stop along the side of the road and check out an outcrop of rock or vista view of the geology and ocean. The windy south east coast featured a variety of horse and steer farms with wide pastures and narrow roads. Making our way out to the southern most point (of the United States of America) of the Big Island we stopped at a breathtaking view of rocky cliffs that were created from landslides as Mauna Loa grew larger and larger.

Professor VanHorn along the southeastern cliffs with Mauna Loa in the distant background (18.922056,-155.68349)
We ran into a cliff diver and I captured a sweet video of the dive (see Google Maps and copy in 18.914632,-155.682857 for the location).

Onto the green sand beaches of the southern coast. When magma hits the surface it is called lava. After cooling, the basalt contains a green mineral called olivine. The silty soil in the area erodes and the mineral is left as a deposit, thus the creation of green sand. I collected some small samples of this amazing stuff. Here is a view of some of this beautiful green sand.

Green sand from olivine deposits

Leah S. takes in the remarkable salt water at 18.916659,-155.668117

We spent time at a wonderful cafe, Punalu'u Bake shop, where Alex G. talked about the Hawaiian language and it history and unique qualities (all Hawaiian words are spelled with only 12 letters, a, e, i, o, u, h, k, l, m, n, p,w) and Professor Van Kooten gave a short talk about Romans 1:20.

Alex G. sharing about the Hawaiian language

Bill S. and Brianna M. at the bake shop

We then wrapped up our tour with visit to the black sand beach of Punaluu County on the south coast which is a popular nesting and resting site for green sea turtles (we saw two sleeping on the sand).

Black sand beach along the south coast of the Big Island @ 19.135757,-155.504732

After dinner it was off to our accommodations for the next several nights, the Pineapple Park Volcano Inn.

Somehow in the 20th Century, humans lost the ability to understand themselves in relation to nature - as part and parcel of nature itself. Our lost connection is never more clearer than this day when we saw the immensity of the sea, the landscapes of basalt, the ridges of Mauna Loa and Kileaua, and fragility of coastal life. Recapturing our sense of nature and our connection to the land - our real connection to the land should be contemplated and move us to action.The word of the day (and I believe may be many of these Hawaiian days) is Topophilia.


  1. Jason,
    What wonderful memories these photo bring back -- Jan and I were on the Big Island about 6 years ago and did that drive from Kona to Hilo and saw these beaches. They are spectacular.
    Take care, and safe travels to all of you.

    1. Oh so wonderful to hear Henry! I need you here to tell me what all of these wonderful plants and flowers are! Just beautiful!

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  3. LOVE the topophilia thoughts. And really all of this blog! I read all your posts so far and you are getting some serious #geographicstreetcred.
    Looking forward to your future posts!

    1. Thanks EDV!

      Thought you would like that one! Getting some serious #geographicstreetcred in Hawaii!