May 18, 2011

Kahapapa Fishpond/Kuuali Fishpond

The above photo, along with the following two, were taken last summer at Kahahpapa Fishpond, near the Waikoloa Marriot Beach Resort. These ancient fishponds are said to date back to 250 BC. From around the 14th century to the 19th century, they served as aquariums for the native aristocracy, providing food supply but also functioning as an indication of power. Today, these archaeological remains are protected by the county and nearby hotels.

A word as simple as "fishpond" doesn't do justice to how uniquely beautiful these ponds are. Lava rock, so prevalent in Hawaii, can seem inhospitable, but here they surround water tinged in shades of green and blue and even orange, making for vivid scenery.

Despite the color of the ponds, the water is never clouded or scummy; it's so clear you can see straight through to the bottom. Small fish make their way to and from the ocean, and if your eyes can make them out, you may see shrimp as well.

However, this year, I was surprised to see that some of the ponds looked as if they had been neglected. But it wasn't human activity that had led to the ponds' decline -- it was the March 11th tsunami that hit the Big Island after devastating the Tohoku area of Japan. (I'd gone on vacation looking forward to escaping Japan, but had not gone far enough, it seems.)

Fortunately, some on the ponds, such as this one, were still as pristine as ever. 

Walking through the paths near the fishponds, you come out to the beach near the Marriott.  

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