In our Outdoor Recreation group, we visited Waipi’o Valley to get an understanding of the place for our sustainable tourism project. We decided to make a plan for this area because of its high tourist traffic and lacking infrastructure. To prepare, we talked to the ranger at the lookout station and read through the cultural information at the viewpoint to see what is currently available to tourists. Then we rode down into the valley and experienced the beach to see what the greatest draw for tourism is.
Monday: Coconut Chris workshop /// Tī leaf planting
Coconut Chris, a farmer from Waipi’o and Waimanu Valleys, made a visit to the farm. He brought along an entire truck full of coconuts and demonstrated various ways to open the differing varieties. We tasted delicious coconut water, coconut shavings, and fresh heart of palm.
Later in the afternoon, when the sun was covered by clouds, we planted tī plants at the entrance of the farm. We specifically placed them around the Balinese statues to establish Hawaiian culture. These plants represent protection and security, so we wanted them to act as a blessing and welcome symbol for the farm.
Tuesday: Waipiʻo Valley (volunteer rangers) /// ʻawa (kava) ceremony
Today we were given the opportunity to sit in as park rangers at the Waipi’o Valley lookout. We were in charge of informing and advising the hikers and drivers of the regulations. Along with safety, it was most important to discuss the cultural significance of Waipi’o Valley to the tourists. We wanted them to gain knowledge and understanding of the respect they must carry with them for the land and the locals.
Wednesday: Waipiʻo Valley (volunteer rangers) /// dancing
During our second day working as rangers, we continued to inform the visitors about the significance of Waipi’o Valley. We tried to express how sacred the land is and how it is still occupied by many residents. It is important to respect the land of this particular valley because of its sacred history as the “Valley of Kings.” We also informed the visitors that they need to be careful driving down the road because of its very steep 25% grade. For safety reasons, four wheel drive is required for all vehicles. After dinner, we had a dance party put on by the girls in the Farm to Table program.
Thursday: Puʻukoholā Heiau
We went on an excursion as an entire group this day. In the morning, we made the drive to Beach 69 (Waialea Beach) to relax and enjoy the beach in Kona! Our next stop was a visit to the largest Heiau (temple) on the island. We listened to the ranger describe the history of the two kings, Kamehameha I and Keōua. After offering our ho’okupu (gift) to the Hawaiian God Kū, our ohana left the site with more gratitude and respect than we came with! We walked over to ʻŌhaiʻula Spencer beach park and spent the rest of the day there.
Friday: Kaʻūmana Caves, Mokuola, and Kīlauea
Friday was an action packed day! The first place we went on this excursion day was the Kaʻūmana Caves. The group explored these lava tube caves that dates back to an 1881 flow from Mauna Loa. After the caves, we went to Rainbow falls and found a massive banyan tree that everyone climbed and explored. Afterwards, we drove back through Hilo to have lunch at Coconut Island. The last adventure of the day was a trip to Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. This was an amazing opportunity because we saw the steam vents, an expansive view of the entire volcano, and hiked down to the edge of the crater. We also chanted our oli in this space of abundant mana (power) to honor Pele.