Sunday, January 18, 2015


Paʻu o keahi o Waiwelawela o ka lua e
Aloha na poʻe la o

The pit of Waiwelawela is encircled by fire
Greetings to the people of the upland pit

(From the chant “A popoʻi haki kaikoʻo” – it describes how Pele got established in Puna; it compares the movement of the lava to the movement of water.)

There are indications that the ancient Hawaiians made use of natural hot springs for recreation and therapy. Oral history relates that the ancient chieftain, Kumukahi, frequented hot springs in Puna to relieve his aches and pains.  (Woodruff/Takahashi)

“The fame of the waters of the warm springs of the Puna districts has been great during many years. In fact, it is a legend … that when the ailments of the body overcame the aliʻi of old they betook themselves to the spring known as Waiwelawela … and there they were healed of rheumatic affections through bathing, and their systemic ills cured by drinking of the waters.”

“This legend has come down to the Hawaiians of today and even now there is a fame attached to the waters of the springs, which draws to the side of the stream scores of the native residents of nearby districts.” (Pacific Commercial Advertiser, January 28, 1902)

Waiwelawela “is a warm spring, crescent shaped, and of a vivid ultramarine in color …. The spring, named the Blue Lake, is 90-deg in temperature and 900-feet above the level of the sea.  The water is wonderfully clear and, strange to relate, at this elevation, it has a regular rise and fall which is said to correspond to the tide of the ocean.”  (Daily Bulletin, August 28, 1882)

The Kapoho Warm Springs was formed when the downthrown block of the Kapoho fault slipped below the water table and exposed the warm waters, probably heated by a magmatic body intruded in 1840.  (USGS)

“At present no practical use is made of them, but were there a proper access a small hotel would be built and many invalids would be able to make use of these springs.”  (Hawaiian Gazette, September 17, 1889)

“The famous warm spring is to be found near the residence of Mr RA Lyman (Kapoho’s largest landowner) and is one of the finest bathing places on the islands.  Natives formerly flocked to the place from all over the islands believing that it was possessed of great healing powers.”

“The water is a pleasant temperature for bathing and is clear as crystal, small objects can be readily distinguished twenty feet below the surface. There is a mineral taste to the water.”  (Pacific Commercial Advertiser, March 22, 1892)

“The railway now goes so close to them that it is believed if a few cottages were built, and attendance provided, many afflicted people would be glad to go there and be healed.  Even those who need no physician would find at these springs a place for rest and contemplation, far from the maddening crowd.”  (Pacific Commercial Advertiser, October 12, 1908)

“It is the most marvelously beautiful place in all these beautiful islands. There is not a doubt of it. The pool, at the base of a small peak that is like what Diamond Head would be if that had sugar cane growing to its very summit, lies shaded by a dense growth of ʻōhiʻa and koa and lehua trees and guava bushes, the sun glistening upon it through the leaves of these.”

“The waters, not steaming, but of perceptibly higher temperature than the air, by some strange law of refraction are shot through with dazzling gleams of a blue that is like the blue depths of the sky. Yet the rocks in the pool are not blue. They are of rather reddish cast.”  (Mid-Pacific Magazine, 1912)

“The exposed basin where the spring comes to the surface is something like five by six yards, and the water rises from no one knows where and departs no one sees how.  The water is warm and is very full of mineral salts.”  (Pacific Commercial Advertiser, January 28, 1902)

“This spot is unquestionably one of the loveliest in all Hawaiʻi, and its charm is typical of Hawaiʻi.  It is close against the face of a volcanic cliff.  Here there is a shady grotto, and in this grotto a pool almost as it hewed out of the rocks for the bathing place of some giant of the forest.”

“The water is in spots 20-feet deep, but so translucent that it seems much less than 10.  It holds many lights and shadows, many hues and colors, varying from the deep indigo blue to a transparent jade-green and in spots a golden brown.  There are seats here and the shade is grateful.”  (Honolulu Star-bulletin, September 6, 1916)

At Warm Springs, where portions of ‘Bird of Paradise’ (1951) and other motion pictures had been filmed, stone steps led to a spring-fed, naturally heated pool fringed by ferns, cattleya orchids and lau hala trees.

The grounds and a half-mile drive were landscaped with plumeria, thousands of ti plants, crotons and ginger. Picnic tables and barbecue pits dotted a smooth lawn shaded by mango trees.  Slim Holt, who leased the property from Lyman, had labored for years to create this beauty, assisted by interested individuals and organizations.  (Flanders)

Then, “Something was amiss.”  An eruption at Kilauea had ended on December 21, 1959.

“(B)ut the shallow reservoir beneath the summit of Kilauea volcano was gorged with magma, far more than before the eruption started. Rather than removing pressure, the eruption had, for all intents and purposes, created more.”

“The uncertainty ended at 1935 January 13, (1960,) when red glow in the night sky above Kapoho announced the 1960 eruption.”  (USGS)

Bulldozers erected a quarter-mile line of dikes designed to prevent the lava from reaching Warm Springs.  Despite this effort, toward midnight the flow surmounted the embankments.

Barbecue pits exploded; trees, shrubbery, tables and benches burst into flame. Lava poured down stone steps in a cherry-red stream.  Still water, reflecting the infernal scene, disappeared under the flow. The new cinder cone was dubbed Puʻu Laimanu.  … Today, buried beneath this primeval landscape, under 50-feet of lava, lays Warm Springs.  (Flanders)

“Estimates of damage from the six-day eruption of Kilauea volcano rose into the millions today.  State Senator Richard F Lyman estimated damage to his land, blanketed by the lava as $2,000,000.”

“He owns 80-acres of sugar land and the Warm Springs resort area, now buried by the flow on Hawaiʻi Island.  Other landowners reported 3,500-acres of farmland destroyed.”  (The Spokesman, January 20, 1960)

“Waiwelawela (meaning ‘warm water’) was a warm spring pool near Kapoho which was covered in the 1960 eruption. … It is said by people of the area that Pele covered the springs because people were charging others, namely Hawaiians, for use of the warm springs. In former days these warm springs were available to everyone.”  (Pukui; DOE)

The photo shows Waiwelawela.  In addition, I have included other images in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook and Google+ pages.

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