Flashback to an overcast April day, a relatively empty Pu’ukohola Heiau NHS, my camera and a few hours to explore before I met up with friends. I decided to visit Pu’ukohola Heiau alone as my friends preferred shopping to a rainy morning adventure. I was determined to visit the Park and get a passport stamp before I left the island. Also, I had heard black-tipped reef sharks could be seen in Pelekane Bay (early morning is usually the best time). Upon arrival I spoke with a park ranger to gather information about the park. I was told to walk around, stay on the trails, read, and listen. I wasn’t sure exactly what the listen part meant, but I left the Visitor Center pretty certain the ranger meant the cell phone audio tour.
I began walking, read all the posted signs, and occasionally listened to the cell phone audio tour. Eventually I just walked the trail, observed, and listened. Not to the audio tour, but to the sounds of this beautiful place. I sat on a bench for a while in the light rain and watched black-tipped reef sharks swimming in the bay! Watching the beauty of the sharks was worth the visit and by far the most fulfilling experience of the day. I tried to take photographs, but the rain made it a complicated process. Eventually I put my camera away and simply existed in the moment. I walked down to the shoreline to get a closer look at the sharks, unfortunately, it didn’t allow for a better visual on this low tide day. I sat near the shore under tall palm trees and listened to the water, rain, and wind.
I cannot tell you how long I was there as I had lost track of time in the peacefulness of the Park. I was sitting by the water when I heard other visitors in the distance and decided it was time to head back to the car. Without realizing that I hadn’t explored the whole park I acquired my stamp and departed. I would like to revisit Pu’ukohola Heiau again, learn more about its historical significance, and explore its entirety as I missed a lot of it the first time. Though I wonder if the experience would be as powerful the second time around.