Yesterday was a difficult day. My last remaining grandpa passed recently and yesterday was the last chance I had to hop a flight back to the mainland so I could attend his funeral today. For hours I waffled back and forth between going and staying before finally realizing that it just wouldn’t work. We’ll be in the area at Christmas and can pay our respects then and give my grandma an extra big hug. But even with the decision made, it was still a depressing day. Just as I was about to head to bed for a long afternoon nap my hubby popped into the room and asked if I felt like taking a drive. “To where?” I wondered. “Anywhere, everywhere. It’s a beautiful day. Let’s get out and go see some place we’ve never seen before.” Yes! Just what was needed. A reprieve from my dark and gloomy thoughts.
But before I share the photos from our afternoon, I’d like to share a bit about my grandpa. This is my mom’s dad. I remember him as someone always in motion. From my earliest memories as a small child, he was always just “busy.” Busy mowing his small front yard with an old-fashioned push mower. Busy cleaning out the attic in an old home belonging to his parents. Zipping here. Zipping there. He was a wiry guy and I doubt he sat still for more than 5 minutes at a time. He had old, faded, gray tattoos that covered his arms and my sisters and I would sit beside him while he told us about them. He was a Pearl Harbor survivor and the stories about his time in the Navy and other adventures he’d had were nothing short of amazing. As I grew older, he slowed down a bit but still, he and my grandma seemed to always be on the go. They were avid square dancers and I so loved to peek into the downstairs closet and look at the dozens of outfits they kept stored down there. I remember being envious as they would hook up their little Scamp travel trailer to the car and take off for warmer weather in Arizona. It seemed that their life together was full of non-stop excitement and adventure.
How fondly I recall hopping in the car with grandpa to visit the local “everything” store; stopping at the bakery to get huge sheets of squishy cinnamon rolls; his ever-present smile and non-stop happiness. He was truly a great man. And he’ll be greatly missed.
I immediately felt better just stepping outside. One of my sisters had sent me a text earlier in the day showing their weather to be 12F (yep, twelve! – Colorado) with snow showers. And my dad told me that it was so cold (Washington state) that just being outside for a few minutes, he thought his face was frozen. So to step outside and be hit with the warm weather and breeze, it was amazing. (and I do feel very sorry for all those who are in yucky weather while we soak up the sun here…)
The first stop in our drive was the Menehune Fish Pond.
Menehune Fish Pond is located just above the Nawiliwili Harbor. Alekoko (Menuhune Fish Pond) got it’s name from the legend that a small race of people known as Menehune built these ponds 1,000 years ago. The ponds which create a dam across a portion of the Huleia River was used to trap fish to feed the ali’i ( Hawaiian royalty). Large stones were used to create walls 900 feet across and five feet high. Legend says the ponds were completed overnight.
The sun was shining brightly and I ended up with some rather interesting refractions on my shots. The hills here are the same ones we can see from our backyard and it was really cool to see them closer and in more detail.
From there, we made our way past the Nawiliwili Harbor and a massive cruise ship docked there. Unfortunately, there was no place to pull over so I wasn’t able to get a shot. It was incredible to see this towering white square rising just mere feet off the roadway. Either the harbor is naturally deep or some serious dredging took place to allow entry to liners of such gargantuan size.
Stately cruise ships use this harbor as their port-of-call. It is located at the mouth of the Hule’ia Stream which creates a natural channel for the large ships. This harbor and nearby Niumalu Beach Park were pictured in the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Located at the center of this harbor is a *huge* Marriott complex with multiple hotels, resorts, a golf course, condos, more. We drove as far as we could and ended up at an area that overlooks the harbor entry. It was there that we first saw the lighthouse at the tip of the point. It was immediately decided that we simply had to get out there and take a closer look. A few photos of the area and then we were off to find our way to the lighthouse.
The Marriott property backs up right next to the Lihue airport and we ended up driving a few miles along the fence line (watching large jets take off and land – cool!) before we finally made it to the lighthouse. This is set on a small tip of land that is surrounded by black lava rocks of all sizes and shapes. The water is maybe 20 feet below (hard to get any perspective with the photos or video) and it’s easy to think that you are alone on the island when you stand there. Not a single person in sight. No other cars. No noise. Just the old lighthouse, lava rocks, the pounding surf. I didn’t want to leave…
Once we got home, the hubby did a bit of googling and found out about our lighthouse.
Hawai`i’s only navigable river, the Wailua River, is found on Kaua`i, however, no natural deepwater harbors exist along the island’s entire coastline. To remedy this situation, a portion of Nawiliwili Bay, near Lihue, was dredged and protected by a breakwater to form Nawiliwili Harbor.
Nini Point, which marks the northern entrance to Nawiliwili Bay, was leased by the Hawaiian government from the Lihue Plantation in 1897 as a site for a lighthouse. Several light structures have served at the point over the years. The first was a wooden, frame tower, forty feet high and surmounted by a lamp room, which housed a light and reflector at an elevation of seventy feet above the sea.
The light’s first keeper, Manuel Souza, was born on the U.S. mainland to Portuguese parents. His future wife, also of Portuguese descent, came to Hawai`i from the island of Madeira as a contract laborer for a sugar plantation. Souza bought out her contract, and together they lived at the lighthouse for six years.
Each evening before sunset, Souza would climb the tower, light the oil lamp, and place it along with its reflector behind the glass window that formed a corner of the small lamp room. The light would have to be tended during the night, and then around sunrise, Souza would extinguish the lamp, polish the reflector, and prepare the lamp for the next evening.
The original Nawiliwili trestle tower was torn down and replaced with a lens lantern atop a thirty-three and a half foot tall mast. The new light was first exhibited on December 22, 1906, and was rebuilt in 1923. As keeper, Oliver Kua would climb the mast to service the light each day via galvanized spikes set into both sides of the pole.
As Nawiliwili Bay had become the principal port on Kaua`i, George Putnam, the Commissioner of Lighthouses, felt that the present station on Ninini Point was inadequate and requested that $48,100 be appropriated for a high-powered, long range lighthouse to served the harbor. The money was soon made available, and the present eighty-six -foot concrete tower was constructed in 1932 along with a new three-bedroom keeper’s dwelling set on concrete block footings.
Keeper Kua was retained as keeper of the new lighthouse and served for a total of twenty-one years at the station, finally retiring in 1939 when the Coast Guard took control of the light.
During World War II, the Nawiliwili Lighthouse, along with all others in the Hawaiian Islands, was darkened. On December 31, 1941, a Japanese submarine surfaced near the entrance of the bay and shelled the harbor. Fortunately, several of the shells, including one that made a direct hit on a large gasoline storage tank, failed to explode and damage was limited to about $500. Fears of a possible Japanese invasion, led to the stationing of additional Coast Guard personnel at both the Nawiliwili and Kilauea light stations.
The Nawiliwili Lighthouse was automated in 1953, however an attendant remained at the station and was responsible for routine maintenance of the Nawiliwili Light and seven minor lights on the island. The tower’s fourth-order Fresnel lens was replaced by a DCB-36 beacon in 1984. The lantern room has been removed from the tower, compromising the structure’s beauty.
And that was our little afternoon venture. I have plans to take a picnic lunch out to the Nawiliwili Lighthouse soon and enjoy a quiet afternoon soaking up the sun, listening to the waves, and enjoying the planes landing and departing from the airport. And we’ll also be taking a trip out to Kilauea to look at that lighthouse as well. There is just something mysterious and magical about an old lighthouse…