Big Island

Green Sea Turtle on Punalu’u Beach

Punaluʻu Beach, a sparkling black sand beach along the south eastern shore of Hawaii, took us about two and a half hours driving from the Royal Kona Resort. Even so, we couldn’t have been more happy to spend our day so close to volcanic rock formations, the tiny grains that formed the beach, and mighty blue waves that crashed and careened around the beach.

Hundreds of pond lilies slowly showed their colors as the day wore on just to the other side of the beach near a small store pavilion topped with corrugated metal roofing. Several parents tried to occupy their children here after reading the warning signs regarding drowning in the coastal currents!

It’s very helpful to wear water shoes of some sort in Hawaii because volcanic rock remains sharp, even after years and years of wave bashing. Another useful tool turned out to be the mask and snorkel that my son brought. Swimming out a ways, he caught a glimpse of a green sea turtle swimming near an outcropping of volcanic rock. Once I donned the goggles, several colorful and exotic looking fish could be seen darting about, picking at the algae, but I never saw the green turtle. I could hear faint clicks from other fish doing the same thing. Although I wanted to spend more time snorkeling, I soon felt the pull of those strong coastal currents. Not wanting to be too tired to make my way back, I turned around and headed in after about twenty minutes.

The only indigenous reptile found in Hawaii, the Honu, or large green turtle, is said to be a symbol of good luck in the form of a guardian spirit, or Amakua, to Hawaiians. These turtles are an endangered species making their way back and to spot one means the conservation measures are working. Often swimming hundreds of miles to reach Punalu’u Beach to lay their eggs, many simply stop and rest for many days, exhausted from the effort. We spotted one and thought it deceased, but orange cones indicating the wide area needed for its peaceful resting clearly exhibited the great love and understanding afforded these turtles by the Hawaiians. Each surviving turtle will dig several holes and lay hundreds of eggs. At one point, the turtle raised her head and set it back down on the wet sandy shore.

I’ve thought about the lesson of the green sea turtle. Follow your destiny! Work with all you’ve got to get to a place and time where you can rest and leave a legacy. When resting, tune the rest of the world out. Awaken and travel on with a renewed sense of adventure wherever the currents will take you!

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