I know what you’re thinking. You’re looking at that fence photograph thinking that it is the most beautiful, glorious fence you’ve ever seen. No? Well, if you’re not thinking that you really should. That, my friends, is a pest-proof fence. It keeps out pigs, dogs, cats, mongoose, rats and even wee mice. See, these animals are not native to Hawai’i. They were either intentionally or unintentionally brought to Hawai’i over the centuries much to the dismay of the native wildlife that evolved in the absence of these toothy creatures. Hawai’i was once an amazingly diverse land of birds and plants and they have been pretty much slaughtered by introduced species.
Why am I telling you all this? Well, i’m going to tell you about one of my favorite spots on O’ahu – Ka’ena Point. Once there was a road wrapping around this little tip of the island (even a railroad), connecting the north shore to the leeward side. Winter storms regularly ravished it and eventually it was abandoned. Good news for Hawaii’s coastal plants and seabirds. Many native plants rebounded, a handful of seabirds returned, and the area was designated a Natural Area Reserve.
About a decade ago Laysan Albatross started to nest at Ka’ena. These are fiercely beautiful seabirds with a wingspan of 6 feet that fly thousands of miles for a single meal. Although they were once widespread throughout Hawaii’s coastal areas, they are extremely rare on the main Islands today – found on a handful of offshore islets, Kilauea Point on Kaua’i and now Ka’ena Point. Their arrival was pretty special.
Is this place really kid friendly? Well, it’s hot out there, I won’t lie to you. Ka’ena means “the heat” in Hawaiian after all. Just head out early before the heat of the day (or after), bring plenty of water and snacks and leave the stroller at home. Winter is my favorite time of year. You can marvel at the big surf, humpback whales, Monk seals, beautiful native plants and of course, the albatross. When you’re visiting Ka’ena Point you’re getting a glimpse into Hawaii’s past and, hopefully, the future. I feel incredibly fortunate that I can share this with my kids.
Learn more about Ka’ena Point and plan your visit:
- Hawai’i State Parks http://www.hawaiistateparks.org/hiking/oahu/index.cfm?hike_id=21
- Friends of Ka’ena http://www.friendsofkaena.org/