Beyond Alaska

Winter Swell Big Island Waves-Hawaii

Over the weekend, clouds rolled in and settled over South Central Alaska.  It was the first big predicted winter storm that actually came to fruition.  Many posted images of an angry ocean pounding off the Kenai Peninsula. Fond memories of winter Big Island waves in Hawaii came to mind as I watched.

When all was said and done, Palmer ended up with about 18 inches of snow on the ground.  Now temperatures are plummeting well into the depths of minus degrees.

That makes it a great time to reflect on a favorite hobby in warmer weather: watching big waves off the Kona Coast.

Big Waves, Kona Hawaii

Winter Swell, Big Island

Addicted to Waves

I love to watch the ocean in motion!  Waves have always fascinated me.  As a river guide, I’d stare for hours at the current, studying hydraulics and attempting to predict the safest path through rapids.

Heck, I’ll watch The Perfect Storm, The Finest Hours, Pirates of the Caribbean and The Guardian just for monster water! And, I’ve read The Wave multiple times (it’s worth a read if you love the ocean).

When we lived in Hawaii in Kailua Kona, one of my favorite things to do was watch Big Island waves during winter swells.  Since I was thinking about it today, I decided to pull a few favorite photos and share them.

Huge Wave Kona Hawaii

Waves at Sunset, Big Island

Big Island Waves, Hawaii

End of the World off the Kona Coast was our favorite place for cliff jumping.  Walls of unforgiving lava rock provided the stage to enter turquoise blue water.  Nicks and scrapes were battle scars sported proudly by those who dared take the plunge.

There were several heights to choose from, so all the kids could pick a platform to suit their level.

I remember one particular jump well.  Bridger was getting ready to go, and my friend Belinda and I saw what we thought was a oceanic white tip shark under the water in the back of the cave by the cliffs.  No matter, he’ll be fine!

Go ahead and jump!  He’s still here so it all worked out.

In the splash zone, Kona, Hawaii

During the winter, storms to the north kick up big swells that work their way towards the Hawaiian Islands.  While we certainly didn’t get the surf that the breaks on the North Shore, Kauai and Maui, waves got big enough to provide plenty of entertainment.

We’d pack everyone in the car and head down to view the awesome power (a couple of times, a little too close).

It was fascinating to see the normally tranquil waters we played in turned into a deadly washing machine.  One would never survive a fall into that turbulence.

Big Island Waves, Kona

Waves at Sunset

There was one time in particular I remember.  After losing 2 cell phones to the sea (and a purse, but that’s another story), I decided to take my dive camera with it’s housing.  I don’t know why I hadn’t done it before!

Waves were crashing and splashing up a storm and the images resulted in some pretty cool pics if I do say so myself.

As I pulled some shots from the archives, I was mentally taken back to Hawaii.  The smell of plumeria, taste of fresh mango, warmth of sunshine and sounds of the ocean seemed real and present.  They are what I miss most.

That and watching spinner dolphins in the bay on my way to work.  Our ability to emotionally transport to another place through senses is what makes memories so magical.

Sunshine on Bid Island Waves

Beautiful colors, Big Island Waves

I love Hawaii, and I will always be grateful for the two years we spent in Kailua Kona.  While there were good and not so good experiences, the beauty of nature and Aloha spirit there is undeniable.

I miss it.  And some moments I will never forget, like those enchanting Big Island waves.

I can picture it in my mind…And after our storm, I bet there’s a winter swell headed that way.

Crashing Big Island Waves



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