Exploring the Big Island and finding your Mana (Hawaiian for "life-force)

The power of this place struck me immediately. There must be something in that blue water or maybe it’s the volcanic dust that hangs in the air on still days but something about this town, this coast and these islands that speaks to the men in my family.

Sunrise over Pololu valley. The northern most of the seven sacred valleys on the Northeast coast accessible only by foot or kayak.
A sunrise paddle across the lagoon in the Waipio valley. The southernmost of the 7 sacred valleys.

My grandfather first came to the Hawaiian Islands with Uncle Sam on his way to fly fighter planes and supply runs over the ‘hump’ from India to Burma in World War II. Like so many others who chanced upon the islands, they stuck with him and he began a lifelong love affair with Hawai’i, its people and its culture.

Sunset on the north end of Holualoa bay, a sacred surfing grounds for the ancient Hawaiians.



CodyDoucette-2102 Katie about halfway up the 1800 ft. return trip from a morning of snorkeling and free diving in Kealakekua Bay with her Nomi.

He also loved the fishing. He brought my father here for the first time when he was just a young kid, but he speaks clearly of this day, of how he was overwhelmed to the point of tears by the beauty and power of the islands. My first trip was much the same... there are crystal clear memories of incredible beauty and feelings of dumbstruck wonder.

Exploring the tide pools on the south Kona coast with Katie Vermillion.

The native Hawaiians called this energy Mana and roughly translated it means ‘life force’ and over the past year I have seen first hand that it is very real and runs very deep on the Big Island.

This small coconut palm grove fronts the grounds of Pu’uhonua O Honaunau, known in English as the Place of Refuge. Should an embattled warrior make it to these grounds he was safe and could not be harmed. Kind of like a perpetual safe zone from all tribal conflict.

In it’s roughly 4,028 square miles the Big Island manages to pack in 4 out of the 5 major climate zones on earth. There are 5 volcanoes, 3 of which are active, with an elevation of over 33,500 feet when measured from the base (Mauna Kea tops out at 13,796 ft above sea level), making them some of the largest on earth.

 A giant Banyan tree sits sentinel on a street in Hilo.

It is home to the youngest land on earth, acres of primeval lava rock are born each day. A year of calling it home and we haven’t even scratched the surface but there have been some beautiful moments along the way and the opportunity to explore is endless with a good truck, sturdy shoes and a good backpack. My Deuter SUB 28 and Katie’s Nomi are the perfect packs for our single day adventures here on the island.

Yours truly and my SUB 28 out for a look around on the South Kohala coast. Ready for whatever the day brings.

Katie and her trusty Nomi take in the view after the hike in to Ki’holo, a lagoon famous for the legions of green sea turtles that come to the placid waters to rest.


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