Stories behind a Big Island summer

This past summer was filled with many memories made out in nature. Some of my personal favorites were from the Hawaii Island, or Big Island, when I went to visit with my family. I also happened to capture them on camera. Although a photo can never truly capture the essence and feelings of encountering nature’s powerful grandeur, behind every photo is a story. These are some stories I found worth sharing from this special place.

In this photo, one can see how the Hawaii Island stands with cliffs outstretched to the rest of the world. When I look back upon this photo, I am reminded of the lessons nature can teach us about ourselves when in its presence. Here, I learned that we do not really differ from the natural flow of things. Ridges of past stories articulate the sides of this prominently featured mountain, just as they do within the individual. Most of these might puzzle an onlooker who cannot provide insight to how they came about. When illuminated by a light, however, they are radiant and would not be as beautiful without them.

This island is the newest and largest in the chain of the Hawaiian Islands. Sitting about 30 miles away from its neighbor island, Maui, it creates the most southern point of the U.S. It spans about 4,028 square miles, able to cover the distance of all the other islands. This spectacle of land is famous for containing the most amounts of climates in a concentrated area. It is home to some of the most active volcanoes in the world, with eight different climate zones that range from icy peaks to tropical forests.

This photo was taken at Holei Sea Arch in Volcanoes National Park. A week prior to our visit, a chunk of rock, estimated to weigh about a ton, had fallen from the inside after being hit by a wave. Standing along this sea cliff made entirely by lava, one can hear the roaring waves below accompanied by strong winds. In this seemingly lonely place, however, greenery begins to grow. These tiny plants are promises of new life being brought forth, as seen in the foregrounds of this photo. 

Lava stands guard as a barrier over what once was a road. This was a road we encountered on July 20 when driving to the beach. The site is one that stopped the course of people living their day-to-day lives, showing nature’s ability to prevail in spite of what may be willed against it.

Journeying into the heart of the Hawaii Island takes us to Volcanoes National Park. Pictured in this photo are my brother and cousin, walking into an empty lava tube. This photo sparks a sense of adventure in me. I remember watching them walking into the darkness ahead, wondering what lay within. The moss that surrounded us is damp, and the darkness beckons us forward. When I look back at this moment, I am taken back into the greenery that covered the secrets this forest held. 

This photo was shot standing along the edge of the cavern that stretches out for miles within Volcanoes National Park. This space is constantly changing and raging with heat. The various colors of rocks visible and smoke that billows are a dramatic site that captivates onlookers. Kilauea is one of the few places in the world that is actively erupting, changing the scenery around it as it does. It serves as a natural wonder that can both destroy land and etch new life into the island.

This photograph was taken on a drive with my family. We turned the corner on a hilly street and all along were inviting palm trees on either side of the road. A green canopy stems all throughout, like the roof to a home with high ceilings. It is one of the most beautiful and memorable drives I experienced, as we made our way to Poohiki Beach.

The ramp pictured is hinted by the signs surrounding it to be a place with a past. Situated near the parking of Poohiki Beach Park, it was once in direct connection with the ocean. It led out as a channel but was blocked by flowing lava, like the sea being parted. The disruption of lava left a new pebble beach protecting this small area from where the ocean now meets the new land. What used to be churning blue waters is now a natural pool where communities gather to float in its heated vents.

Standing at the lookout to Rainbow Falls, I captured this picture of the majestic falls. This scenic area is lush and breathtaking, located within the forest of Hilo. I can still hear the loud rushing of water echoing in the cavern below and filling the space all around so that it can be heard from miles away. 

Here are the inhabitants of the Big Island laying out on its volcanic sand. Green Sea Turtles are a common sight on the black sands of Punaluu Beach. The turtles have a peaceful presence about them and, together, we listen to the crashing sound of waves, distinct to this pebbly beach as water seeps into the sand.

The Hawaii Island has a special atmosphere and way about it. Each time I visit, my disconnection from the outside world and immersion within the unique creation of this land give me an even greater appreciation for our planet and the beauty it has to offer when we look for it.