When in Kona, I take the 30 mile drive to the Place of Refuge south of town, early in the morning where the ‘Two Step’ set of lava shelves make entry into this watery wonderland an easy in. I scuba dive there with two tanks when I can and it’s a snap to get in and out with all the gear and weight but the water is clear often to 130 feet further out. There are schools of spinner dolphins, an explosion of colours with tropical fish all over the healthy coral and turtles bobbing up and down en masse.
It’s a scenic drive down Napoopoo Road past coffee farms, fruit stands and B&Bs. Place of Refuge is a spiritual safety zone where those who had broken rules–stepping over the shadow of a royal, stealing fish from the king’s pond, shame in fighting, etc–could be purified of their wrongs. The trick was, they had to run many miles to it from their place of transgression with a herd of hardened warriors in hot pursuit. If they made it into the compound, they lived. If not, they were beaten, maybe even eaten.
For those who have never snorkeled it’s the prime place to start. Seasoned snorkelers run the risk of back sunburn so wear a t-shirt if you’re easily lured into the water and hard to get out. For scuba divers, it’s a wondrous dive, safe, easy and lots of critters.