Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Hawaii Lava Flow: Puna and Pahoa Area - Alive and Kicking

Puna & Pahoa Area - Alive & Kicking

Stay at Hale Moana Bed & Breakfast and experience the Pahoa lava flow first hand: Hale Moana Bed & Breakfast is 7 miles away from the lava flow and Pahoa. The areas in and around Pahoa and Hale Moana Bed & Breakfast are safe for residents and visitors alike. There is no danger of lava inundation here at the Bed & Breakfast and currently there are no air quality issues.
Coming to Pahoa and the Puna area is completely safe. The lava flow has stalled and break-outs are in the up-slope areas about 5 miles from the town center. All roads are open and even the 300 yard stretch within Pahoa town opened today at noon, right in time for the holidays. All businesses, including restaurants and stores are open and doing business as usual. There will be a lava viewing area.
Here are several newspaper articles from today and yesterday:
Road opening & lava viewing
Lava flow stalled:

There is currently no access to "hot" lava in the Pahoa area, accept through helicopter flights over the Pu'u O'o area and down-slope toward Pahoa. The county will open the Pahoa Transfer Station as a public viewing area. At this site visitors will be able to see how close the flow came to this Recycling Center and how long lava is still warm to the touch.

Pahoa Transfer Station
The location of “hot” breakouts changes daily and this is also why it is difficult to establish a lava viewing area close to these breakouts. As soon as the lava is flowing into the ocean or is continuously visible in a specific area, the county will surely open a safe public viewing area that can then be accessed by many people.
The Pahoa lava flow adds to the unique experience and charm of this area. It presents a historic event and visitors can be part of this. It is quite amazing to see, how Pahoa despite the looming threat is alive and kicking. Restaurants, stores, the farmers market, banks, gas stations, emergency services and other business activities are open and doing business as usual. The way the community deals with this imminent situation is an experience of resilience and hope, - something we can all learn from and an important message for all of us to take home. The Puna area is the perfect place to also experience the intensity and prominence of Hawaiian culture and its Aloha Spirit – it is real and authentic.

The beauty and charm of this area, including the Red Road/Hwy 137, Kalapana, historic landmarks, parks (Ahalanui, Isaac Hale, MacKenzie, Lava Tree), Kapoho Tidepools and old lava flows are unchanged and unaffected by the current flow. Instead it adds to the uniqueness…Connecting Chain-of-Crater Road with Hwy 130 will present a great benefit to the visitors to this area. This project is in process, but will happen in time. It will provide easy access for the visitors into the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park from the Puna/Pahoa area.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Hawaii Lava Flow Update: Chain of Crater Road Connected

Chain-of-Crater Road Connected - First Stage

Stay at Hale Moana Bed & Breakfast and experience the Pahoa lava flow first hand: Hale Moana Bed & Breakfast is 7 miles away from the lava flow and Pahoa. Hawaiian lava flows are slow and the current flow is momentarily stalled. Its flow front is only 100 yards wide. The areas in and around Pahoa and Hale Moana Bed & Breakfast are safe for residents and visitors alike. There is no danger of lava inundation here at the Bed & Breakfast and currently there are no air quality issues.

To prepare for the possibility of Highway 130 and other alternate routes being crossed by lava, the Hawaii County has been working on connecting the eight-mile stretch between the end of Highway 130 in Kalapana and the end of the Chain-of-Crater Road from the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

The joining of the two sides of Chain of Craters Road was a milestone event and was covered from the air and the ground. Photos released by the National Park show Mayor Billy Kenoi, County Public Works Director Warren Lee, and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park superintendent Cindy Orlando arm-in-arm in celebration. But concerns loom over access. As recently as a few days ago, Hawaii County Civil Defense administrator Darryl Oliveira said the county was still trying to work out the details on who could use Chain of Craters and how it would be managed.

The following link will give you great pictures of the construction of the road and discussion of how access will be provided and who will be able to access the road: Our visitors will be able to come through the park to us and stay here at the B&B.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Pahoa Hawaii Lava Flow Up-Date

Pahoa Lava Flow Up-date

Stay at Hale Moana Bed & Breakfast and experience the Pahoa lava flow first hand: Hale Moana Bed & Breakfast is 7 miles away from the lava flow and Pahoa, in a safe area. There is no danger of lava inundation here and currently no air quality issues.

Here are some facts about the June 27 Pahoa lava flow:
  • Speed and Volatility of the Flow: Hawaii lava flows progress very slowly and are completely different from plinian eruptions at Mount St. Helens (1980) and Mt. Pinatubo (1991)
  • Size of the Flow: This current flow is 80 yards wide at the flow front.
  • Lava Glow visible: Even though public access is not available at this time, because the flow is going through residential areas, it is possible to watch the lava glow from Pahoa Village Road.
  • Access to Pahoa and the B&B: Alternate routes provide safe and adequate access in case the main highway is crossed by lava.
  • Pahoa Infrastructure and Life: Even though the lava flow is moving forward and going to split the town in half, residents are resilient and life continues in this little town that is also called the "Heart of Puna" : Restaurants are open, banks and post office are doing business as usual, stores are serving customers, no interruption of utilities gas stations are pumping gas!
For additional details and information on the lava flow, I am including the following links
  1. to the latest Civil Defense press conference providing a comprehensive Q & A session
  2. to the latest USGS press conference providing information from the Hawaii Volcanoes Observatory

Monday, October 27, 2014

Hawaii Volcanoes and Lava Up-Date: Hale Moana Bed and Breakfast - Safe

Pahoa Entered by Lava - Hale Moana Bed & Breakfast Safe

Aloha Friends,
This is for the many people, who are connected to us and who are hearing about the lava flow on the news and through the internet. This message is for all of you, who are not here on the ground able to assess the developments first hand: The children and I and the B&B are fine and safe!

The lava has progressed closely to the outskirts of Pahoa. Smoke is clearly visible from our town and the front of the flow is about 600 yards or so away from the center of town. Early this morning lava glow was visible through the trees behind Pahoa. Our house/B&B is in Leilani Estates, approximately 7 miles to the south of Pahoa. This area is in no danger of lava inundation. We are completely safe here and we continue to welcome visitors from around the world.

Once the flow crosses the village road and the highway, we will be a very good location to look at and explore the lava flow. The County has built alternate routes and traffic is directed safely along these detours.

I am deeply saddened by the events and I have great compassion for all of our friends and members of the community that are directly affected by the lava. All of us here are going through the emotional process of losing part of the things we love so much. There is inevitability and powerlessness while we are helplessly watching this slow progression. Like many times in life, we have to learn to accept the circumstances around us. It is our courage that will help us to find solutions, overcome adversity and to open new doors. The community here is coming together in a big big way. We have exceptional leadership in our Mayor, the head of Civil Defense, the County Department directors and all of their crews, the utility partners, private contractors, agencies, and all the community members working together. People are working around the clock to make sure everybody is well informed, safe and access to services and basic needs is uninterrupted.

I am asking you to keep us in your thoughts, to stay in touch, to support us through these tough times and to continue to visit Hale Moana Bed & Breakfast and this beautiful area on the Big Island of Hawaii.

I am including this video link for you to see, how the lava crosses the first road and then a second video about the lava flowing through the Buddhist cemetery:

Please, share this with your friends on FB or by e-mail. I am here for you, if you have any questions. 808-965-7015 or or

With deep gratitude for your support and my heartfelt Alohas to you and your families,

Petra Wiesenbauer
Hale Moana Bed & Breakfast

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Hawaii Volcanoes Park - Chain of Crater Road Construction and Closure

“End of the Road” will close during emergency route construction

This road will connect the end of Hwy 130 to the end of Chain of Crater Road in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Hale Moana Bed & Breakfast will then be only about 15 minutes from this world renowned park.

Hawaii National Park, Hawai‘i – Work begins Friday, October 24 on an emergency access route between Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park and Kalapana along the historic Chain of Craters Road-Kalapana alignment, from the park side.
The half-mile section of paved road that pedestrians use to access the lava that covered it in 2003 will be closed as of Friday. The popular “Road Closed” sign enrobed in lava will be removed to become part of park history. Other closures include the historic flows and coastal area alongside the construction.

Hōlei Sea Arch, the turnaround, bathrooms, and concession stand near the turnaround will remain open.

Motorists can expect traffic delays early Thursday and Friday mornings as large bulldozers and heavy equipment are transported from the summit of Kīlauea down the 19-mile stretch of Chain of Craters Road to the turnaround.

“We intend to reopen the closed area as soon as it is safe to do so and the bulldozers move closer to Kalapana,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “But now is the time to take those last photos of the iconic ‘Road Closed’ sign before it is removed on Friday,” she said.

Last week, bulldozers from the Kalapana side graded the 2.2-mile portion of Highway 130 covered in lava to where it meets the park boundary and becomes Chain of Craters Road. This week, crews start to grade the 5.4 miles through the park to the Kalapana boundary. The work is being done by the County of Hawai‘i, and overseen by the National Park Service and Federal Highways Administration.

Opened in 1965, Chain of Craters Road has been covered and blocked by lava for 37 years of its 49-year existence.

The emergency route is being built to assist residents of lower Puna, whose access to the rest of the island would be cut off if lava from Kīlauea Volcano’s June 27 flow reaches the ocean.                                                                  

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park News Release
Release Date:  October 21, 2014
Contact: Jessica Ferracane/ Public Affairs Specialist, (808) 985-6018;

NPS Photos:

  • A bulldozer approaches the boundary at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park last week from the Kalapana side. NPS Photo/David Boyle 
  • The iconic "Road Closed" sign. NPS Photo/Michael Szoenyi 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Big Island - Kalapana - Uncle Robert's Farmers Market

Uncle Robert's Farmers Market

 A Taste of Old Hawai‘i

by Denise Laitinen
published in Ke Ola Magazine issue Sep-Oct 2012

Judging from the size of the crowd, Uncle Robert’s Farmers Market is the worst kept secret in lower Puna. Held every Wednesday night from 5-9 p.m. at Uncle Robert’s in Kaimū, Kalapana, it’s the only nighttime farmers market on the island. It’s also one of the busiest. With vendors offering locally grown produce, baked goods, hand made jewelry, freshly cooked food, and live music, it feels more like a festival than a market.

“I don’t call it a farmers market, I call it a social market,” says Ikaika Marzo, one of Uncle Robert’s hānai grandchildren, as he looks across the crowd. Long, communal picnic tables in the dining pavilion are filled with people listening to the Kalapana Awa band perform and enjoying food from one of the many vendors at the market. A little girl is on the dance floor trying to dance hula to the music.

Beyond the picnic tables, throngs of people can be seen strolling the aisles of the farmers market, admiring the produce and wares available. “It’s a family place,” says Sam Keli‘iho‘omalu, one of Uncle Robert’s 11 children. “It’s a fun place.” It’s reminiscent of old Hawai‘i, and that’s the way we like to keep it,” says Prince Keli‘iho‘omlau, another one of Uncle Robert’s sons. “It’s very local, very relaxed.”

Situated on Uncle Robert’s four-acre family compound at the end of Kapoho-Kalapana Road in Kaimū, the site was already home to Uncle Robert’s Awa Bar and the starting point for Kalapana Cultural Tours (operated by Marzo and Andrew Keli‘iho‘omalu, one of Uncle Robert’s grandsons)
when Uncle Robert’s son Sam decided to establish the market. The market is truly a family affair and many of Uncle Robert’s extended family can be found working either behind a booth counter, directing traffic and parking, or up on stage performing. “The majority of people that come down here have jobs, so we decided to have the market at night,” adds Marzo.

Upon opening at the start of this year, the market was an instant success. Within six months there was a waiting list of vendors wanting to participate. Some of the vendors, like Tina Aiona, are related to Uncle Robert (she is his niece), while many others are area residents looking to supplement their
income, or just make an income.

Vendor Dave Cardall says he’s a house painter by profession but work has been hard to come by with the recession, so he started a second career creating custom jewelry. The market gives him an opportunity to showcase his wares. “I’m reinventing myself,” he says with a smile.

“We’re pretty much making our own economy down here,” says Marzo. The market is about more than food and music. It also features a permanent display depicting information on the history of the area with pictures from the 1990 lava flow. There’s also extensive information displayed about the
Hawaiian sovereignty movement, something dear to Uncle Robert Keli‘iho‘omalu’s heart and soul.
“Everything about Uncle Robert is about sovereignty,” says Garry Hoffeld, the island-wide organizer for Moku o Keawe Reinstated Lawful Hawaiian Government. For visitors and recently arrived residents, the displays are their first, and sometimes only, exposure to these historical and political issues.

The market is also reflective of Uncle Robert’s strong spirit of aloha, attracting residents and visitors alike. “You see a lot of local people and a lot of visitors,” says Lisa Bowring of Aloha Exotics, who sells chocolate-covered chili peppers and strawberries. “It’s a very festive atmosphere.” “It’s a mini ho’olaule‘a (festival) every Wednesday,” says Kea‘au resident Tracey Kauahi.

Contact writer Denise Laitinen:

Monday, September 29, 2014

Hawaii Lava Flows - Kalapana Remembered

Kalapana Remembered

Timely - as the June 27 flow continues to move toward Pahoa! Stay at Hale Moana Bed & Breakfast and experience old and new flows in the Puna Area. Visit the little town of Pahoa!

Reminiscing with Mayor Billy Kenoi about his childhood home before Pele reclaimed it.

by Denise Laitinen
published in Ke Ola Magazine Mar-Apr 2014 issue.

Kalapana. Synonymous with the destructive power of Madame Pele. Little signs remain of the community that was destroyed by lava flows from Kupa'ianaha vent between 1986 and 1990.

Those borne in the remote fishing village of Kalapana are proud to call the place home. They remember well a tight-knit community surrounded by beautiful Kaimu black sand beach and Queen's Bath.

Just ask Billy Punapaiaalaikahala Kenoi. The two-term Mayor of Hawai'i County has fond memories of the place he grew up and the way things used to be before the town was overrun by lava in 1990.

"It' one of those places where when you're a small kid, you think you're poor, but when you're an adult and you look back, you realize you were one of the luckiest kids in the whole world."

Billy was born right across from Kaimu in November 1968. His mother had moved to Hawai'i with Billy's oldest brother and two sisters after the death of her first husband. She subsequently met and married Billy's father, giving birth to Billy and three more daughters.

"Then we wound up hanai'ing (Hawaiian form of adoption) my oldest brother's friend. So there were eight [kids] in our house."

Life was simple for the large family, lacking electricity and other modern conveniences some take for granted today.

"We had kerosene lamps," says Billy. He continues, "There was no running water so we had outhouses. We took a shower at either Harry K. Brown Park or would bathe at the Queen's Bath."

A collapsed lava tube filled with freshwater from nearby natural springs, the Queen's Bath was used only by ali'i (royalty) to bathe in and relax in ancient times.

"When we were young, that was a community bathing place. All the families would gather in the evening and sit and talk story. The Keli'iho'omalus, the Ka'awaloas, Hauanios. The families would take turns walking down, bathing as a family and walking back up. A lot of families were 'ohana."

Indeed, Billy is related to another well-known Kalapana family, the Keli'iho'omalus. (See Sep-Oct 2012 issue of Ke Ola for "Talking Story with Uncle Robert").

"My Dad and Uncle Robert Keli'iho'omalu are first cousins," explains billy.

"The best part of growing up was it was all about family. Everybody was a cousin. Every adult was an aunty or an uncle. Had a lot of love a lot of respect. Not plenty money, but nobody cared about that. Always seemed like we had food on the table."

Billy may not have minded the lack of material wealth when he was younger, however there was one thing that he was ashamed of: his middle name. Billy's middle name is Punapaialaikahala, which translates to "the fragrance of the hala that was associated with Kalapana."

He explains, "In Kalapana the lauhala mats were unlike anywhere else. They would go up along the walls. It was very unique. In most places the lauhala mats would extend to the wall itself, but in Kalalpana the mats would go up the walls about 6-9 inches. In the space in between the lauhala mats and the wall people would sprinkle the fruit of the hala tree. So people would walk into a house in Kalapana and it would have a certain fragrance. And that fragrance is Punapaiaalaikahala.

"But that's not the kind of stuff that's cool when you're growing up," he says with a laugh. "you'd rather have a middle name like Ikalani 'the warrior from the heavens.' You don't want to smell like a tree."

billy points out that he is now proud of his middle name and has given each of his three children middle names that reflect Kalapana. Son Justin's middle name is Kalapana, Liam's middle name is Pilipo, and his daughter's middle name is Mahinalani, which refers to the full moon that rises over the ocean in Kalapana.

Billy's family moved to the Waiakea area of Hilo when he was in kindergarten and the family frequently visited their Kalapana home. They would use it as a beach house, spending weekends and holidays in Kalapana.

After graduating from Waiakea High in 1986, Billy returned to Kalapana where he worked building stone walls and started his own landscaping company.

"We never had a bus system, but if any aunty or uncle passed by (in their car) they would pick you up," says Billy.

In 1986 Madame Pele started reclaiming Kalapana. Kilauea Volcano had begun erupting in 1983. In July 1986, lava erupted from the Kupa'ianaha vent and began its slow voyage to the sea. By November of that year, the lava had reached the ocean and 17 homes had been destroyed, including eight homes of Kapa'ahu (a town west of Kalapana) overrun by lava over the Thanksgiving holiday.

The worst seemed to be over. It wasn't. In 1990, eruptions from the vent continued with sporadic pauses. After each pause, lava would overrun the previously created lava tube and form new tubes, pushing the lava further downhill toward the oceanside community.

"You know, it was going since 1983. By l990, I kept thinking Madame Pele was not gonna take Kaimu, not gonna take the bay, not gonna take Left Point," said billy.

By the end of February 1990 lava had entered the ocean just west of Kalapana. That didn't stop Billy and his friends from surfing, though. "We'd walk around the road blocks, shaka Harry Kim, and go surf. The respected that it was our home. (At the time Harry Kim was head of Hawai'i County Civil Defense. He would go on to serve as Hawai'i County Mayor from 2000-2008 and asked Billy to serve as his executive assistant from 2001-2007. Kanoi succeeded Kim as Mayor in 2008).

As spring turned into summer in 1990, the lava continued its relentless onslaught into the Kalapana community.

"I didn't think [the lava] was going to take Walter's [Kalapana Store and Drive Inn] even when the [Star of the Sea Painted] Church had to move. Never thought the church was gonna have to move.

"You know that was a devastating day. That was a very divisive issue in the community - on whether or not to actually move the church. Half the community said 'leave 'um' and half the community  said 'move 'um'. That was a difficult decision," Billy says.

With massive community effort, the church was loaded onto a flatbed tractor-trailer and moved out of harm's way just an hour before lava overran where it stood. Now decommissioned and on the National Register of Historic Places, the Star of the Sea Painted Church can be found on Highway 130 between mile marker 19 and 20. It's open to the public seven days a week free of charge between 9am-4pm.

And while his beloved community was going through tremendous upheaval and devastation, Billy's life was also about to change. After taking classes at Hawaii Community College and HU Hilo, he had been accepted into the National Student Exchange Program to attend University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Billy kept surfing in Kalapana up until the day he left for the mainland. "I was in the water paddling toward Drain Pipes. The lava was in the bay and was hitting Drain Pipes already - you could smell the sulfur. I surfed Kalapana to the very last day I left in August 1990. When I left in August 1990 to go to UMass, Kaimu was still thee. In October 1990, I got the phone call - Kaimu, gone. Left Point, gone."

By the end of 1990, Madame Pele's onslaught into the community had claimed more than 1`80 homes, parks, businesses, roads, historical sites, and beaches, burying them all under nearly 50 feet of lava.

Billy said pain from the destruction of his birthplace was so intense it took him years before he could bring himself to go back to the community. "It took me three years to go down and look at it. If I had a function to go to in Kalapana at Uncle Robert's house, I would go at night, so I didn't have to see te lava.

"Finally after three years I went back. It was devastating. It let you know that nothing is permanent. I never took a picture of myself at Kaimu because I thought Kaimu would always be there. I think back now and think I should have taken pictures. "Now, from where you used to put your foot in the water you have to walk 20 minutes to get to the ocean." And yet, when Billy speaks of Kalapana, it is not of regret for what was lost, it is of gratitude. "For all the tragedy of the taking of the area, I still to this day think how blessed we were to grow up in Kalapana. My sister and I look back and we laugh. Looking back [we had] no stuff that other kids had, but now we look back and think if we had to do it all over again we'd do exactly the way it was growing up."

For billy, Kalapana is a place of solace, not destruction. "It's my home, where I was born and raised. And will finally rest. I feel at peace when I go down there. It's where my parents rest. It's where my children are named after. "I'm very humbled and appreciative to know the families that call Kalapana home. They're all very honorable, humble people. I feel privileged to be related to such talented Hawaiian families. Every family that calls Kalapana home is a special family."

Kalapana means to Billy, "The laughter, the love, the family, the music, the ocean. The smell of Kalapana, just driving down the hill. It's still the most special healing place in the whole world."

billy also credits his hometown with helping him achieve his goals. While attending UMass, he was selected to intern with the late Senator Daniel Inouye. He went on to receive a law degree from UH William S. Richardson School of Law where he was the class commencement speaker. And in 2008, at age 39, he was the youngest elected Mayor in Hawai'i County history.

"When you're from Kalapana and you don't know nothing, you're fearless," says Billy. "What happens if you don't make it" Nothing. Then I get to go home and surf in the most beautiful place in the world."

For more info and public domain pictures of Kalapana:

Contact writer Denise Laitinen: