It’s been a year since we vacationed in Hawaii — and the WHO declared COVID-19 a worldwide pandemic just five days after we returned home. Yikes! Since then we’ve only ventured out for local bike rides around our home city of Toronto. We’re currently hunkered down in another lockdown in cold Canada, so I thought it was a good time to finish blogging about Bromptoning in tropical Hawaii!
We spent the first week of our trip on the east side of The Big Island, using the city of Hilo as our home base. Adventures there included:
After that, we folded the Bromptons and got back on the bus to Kona. The purpose of this little vacation was a dear friend’s wedding, so we spent much of the second week hiking, snorkelling and dining with friends, but we did fit in two more cycling adventures, and the first was a ride to “The End of the World”!
- Distance – 17 km
- Average Speed – 17 km/hr
- Top Speed – 43 km/hr
- Cycling Time – 1 hour
As you can see from the stats, this was a short, leisurely ride that gave us plenty of time to hang out at the various sites.
We began our journey cycling south on Ali’i Drive. There’s no separated bike infrastructure, but there is a paved shoulder for pedestrians, cyclists and parked cars. Yep, it’s a bit of a free-for-all, but since the traffic on Ali’i Drive doesn’t move super fast, we felt safe pulling into the car lane when we needed to get around other users of the shoulder lane.
📍Sight to See — White Sands Beach
A couple kilometres into the ride and we were already at White Sands Beach, also known as La’aloa Beach Park, Magic Sands and Disappearing Sands. Why all the names? The first is obvious – the beach is made up of white sand, which is a bit of a rarity on The Big Island known for it’s colourful black, green or salt-and-pepper beaches. Second, La’aloa is the area of land the beach sits on. But the last two names – Magic and Disappearing – are the most intriguing. We didn’t witness the phenomena, but research tells us that during periods of high surf, usually in the winter months, violent wave action will wash away the sand down to bare rock within twenty-four hours, causing the beach literally to disappear overnight. When the heavy surf subsides, normal wave action and ocean currents slowly move the sand from the offshore reservoirs and redeposit it back onshore. However, it can take several months before the beach once again contains its usual volume of sand.
When the surf is not high (like when we were there), the beach slopes gently into the deeper waters offshore, providing a safe, shallow swimming area. There’s also a sandbar that produces waves suitable for novice bodysurfers.
At White Sands Beach Park there are restrooms, showers, a lifeguard tower, and a small parking lot. As usual in Hawaii, there’s no official bike parking, but we locked our Bromptons to the sign like these other bicyclists did.
📍Sight to See — Little Blue Church
Next up, just a couple kilometres south of White Sands Beach, is a little wooden church painted white and blue. It’s known as the Little Blue Church, but it’s officially called St. Peter’s By-The-Sea Catholic Church.
The church was built in 1880 on the site of an ancient Hawaiian heiau (temple). In 1912, the church was placed on poles and carried by hand and dragged by donkeys to its current spot at the north end of Kahalu’u Beach. I don’t think it moved very far, because a mere dozen paces north of the church is a plaque marking the place of the Kuemanu Heiau, a temple that was devoted to surfing! It stands opposite an excellent surfing break, which is still popular today.
📍Sight to See — Kahalu’u Beach
Directly south of the Little Blue Church is Kahalu’u Beach Park, which is known as the perfect beginner snorkelling beach!
Kahalu’u Beach Park is a tiny sheltered cove with shallow waters and an abundance of tame fish, which is why it’s such a popular snorkelling spot. For more information, check out this website: Hawaii Snorkeling Guide
As for facilities, there are bathrooms, water fountains, a snack bar and some food trucks.
After Kahalu’u Beach, we traveled south on Ali’i Drive for about 2 kms until we reached the intersection of Ali’i and Kamehameha III Road. On the NW corner is a lookout point with a map of sights to see and tourist information. This is a nice place to stop because it’s at the top of a hill climb!
From here, we went straight on Ali’i—now called “Highway” rather than “Drive” which is fitting. Though traffic moves faster on this stretch, there wasn’t much of it, and the shoulders were nicely paved and wide. After 3 1/2 kms, Ali’i veers south (where it’s “Drive” again) and the highway (now called Mamalahoa Bypass Road) goes straight. We stuck to Ali’i and cycled past some goats to our next destination…
📍Sight to See — Lekeleke Burial Grounds
Behind the monument in the photo above is a lava field that stretches to the shore. This is where the Battle of Kuamo’o took place, and all 300 people who died in the fight are buried in the terraces on this lava field.
📍Sight to See — The End of the World
Appropriately, to get to the end of the world, one must bypass this gate.
The sign reads, “AUTHORIZED VEHICLES ONLY BEYOND THIS POINT” but in smaller print at the bottom it says, “PEDESTRIAN ACCESS PERMITTED”. We figured that was us, so we cycled in.
The road goes around the Lekeleke Burial grounds and ends at this wooden ramp which leads to another locked gate (that looks more private). We figured we’d arrived!
So what’s with the apocalyptic name of this spot? You might be surprised to learn that it has nothing to do with the huge battle that took place here and changed Hawaiian history. Instead, it’s all about these 30 to 35 foot cliffs—they are what’s popularly known as “The End of the World”.
Apparently, people willingly jump off these cliffs. Not only is there a chance the rocks could shift and move with the powerful surf, potentially making your landing deadly, the only way back up is to CLIMB THE CLIFF while ocean surges try to slam you against its jagged rocks. And since this spot is very unofficial, there’s no lifeguard in sight to save you. But for thrill seekers, this place is a draw!
So there you have it—we made it to The End of the World and did not jump off!
On the way back, we took a small detour to see the Mo’ikeha Cave and read some more historic plaques, and ended our ride with some excellent eats from Da Poke Shack.
All-in-all, a pleasant way to spend an afternoon on The Big Island.