Monday, October 11, 2010

Pokai Beach Park, Oahu

Waianae on Oahu's West Side is a long way from Waikiki, literally and metaphorically, and not many tourists take the time to drive through, much less explore. But this coast is one of the most beautiful in Hawaii, and though it is a little rough around the edges, if you show a little respect for the people and hang around for a while, the place will find your heart.

A good place to start Pokai Beach Park, in the center of the coast. A long crescent of sand, protected by a breakwater, extends from Army Beach to the park, from where a short trail leads to the terraced greenery that is the Kuilioloa Heiau (temple). From here, around 200 AD, one of the early Tahitian navigators named Pokai, set off on several round-trip voyages back to the South Pacific in open canoes, fetching the agricultural plants and livestock that were needed to establish life on the new Hawaiian homeland. The 5,000-mile excursions continue for several centuries and then ceased—leaving the Hawaiians in isolation for several more centuries until they were happened upon by Western sailing vessels.

Waianae was home to legendary slack-key singer Israel Kamakiwiwo'ole (better known as Iz)who attended the local high school. Iz died several years ago. A memorial bust can be found near the community center at 85-670 Farrington Highway. There's much more to see on the West Side. Check out pages 200-213 in Oahu Trailblazer.