Friday, September 3, 2010

My Big Island trip: Pine Trees Beach

On Friday, the Housemate and I went along with his brother's family to Pine Trees Beach. The Housemate and his brother were planning to go surfing while the rest of us played in the (coarse) sand and tide pools. However, the many sea urchins made the trek out to the less-than-impressive waves not worth it, so we ended up staying there only for about an hour.

Still, the beach was unlike any that you'd see on O'ahu, where the land is older, and the lava flows a more distant memory. If you're not familiar with the geological history of the Hawaiian Islands, they are formed from volcanoes caused by a hot spot in the Earth's mantle. As the Pacific tectonic plate has moved northwest over the hot spot, the Hawaiian Islands have formed successively in the southeast direction; the Big Island is the newest, with still active volcanoes. Even on the Kona (west) side of the island, far from the east side's Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the land is young enough to show many clear signs of its lava flow past; the most recent lava flow to reach Kona was in 1950.

Pine Trees has a distinctive pahoehoe rocky coast; pahoehoe is the less viscous, more free-flowing lava that can harden into cool ripply/folded patterns (not sure how to describe it...just look at the photos). We also saw a few cute things in the tide pools, and the road to the beach had some interesting rock formations.

This was on the dirt road that led down to the beach. My theory is that a lava flow hardened over a layer of rubble/dirt/softer rock that was resting on top of a previous hard lava flow. Over time, the layer in between washed out, but the hard lava flow rock remained. I'd love to have a geologist's explanation, though.

There were a whole series of those formations along the road. Here's a closer look into one of them.

View from the beach.

I liked this pahoehoe formation.

In the tide pool, the Housemate snapped a shot of this little (baby?) eel, as skinny as my finger. I got some video of it, but the video editing from the trip will take a little more time, so you'll have to wait for that one.

The Housemate pointed his camera under a rock in an attempt to get a different fish that got away, but here's what he found. I love that little guy in the upper left corner. I really want to know what it is. Cute enough to be a Pokemon.

This is a place we stopped at on the highway, slightly north of Pine Trees. It's just sitting there, no signs or anything, and you can't really see it from the highway (you have to walk to the edge of the slope to look down). But if you happen to know where to pull over, the lava tube is right there.

A look into the lava tube.

If you liked this lava tube and the lava rock formations, be sure to check back next week when I post photos from my trip to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Tomorrow I'll have more snorkeling photos.


soft nonsense said...


Eleni said...

Cool! What did you do there? Enjoy the urchins?

soft nonsense said...

Just walked around the beach some, didn't snorkel or anything too terribly exciting. But either way, I feel we have bonded over this shared experience.

Eleni said...

Yeah, it seemed mostly good just to walk around. All those urchins.

Very cool. Bonding time :)