The Big Island’s “First Beginnings” are still a Mystery

On the most eastern land in the Hawaiian archipelago, Cape Kumukahi (“First Beginnings” in Hawaiian) are clues left by people who pre-dated the earliest Polynesians in the second century. Small stone monuments found by archeologists in the 1800s are of unknown origin–lending support in some circles as evidence of the defunct (think Atlantis) Lost Continent of Mu.

You can check it out for yourself by strolling the sylvan acres of Green Lakes, which charges a modest ($5) fee to explore. (Other popular sites in the Islands on private land have shut down trails that were popular among visitors. Thanks to Smiley Burrows, the woman who runs the show, the property has solved an illegal camping problem, and created some really cool recreational space, including gardens.

East of Green Lake–at road’s end at the cape itself–are more recent monuments, the King’s Pillars. These stacks of rough a’a lava were used as beacons by the the crews of King Pi’lani in the 1500s when navigating canoes from Maui. Cape Kumukahi is now the site of many acres of the Big Island’s most recent lands, thanks to an enormous eruption in 1960. At the top of a green hillock sticking up through the lava slag heaps about a mile inland is the site of the Kukui Heiau. Chief Umi in the 1400s used the rock structure as an astronomy observatory.


All these places are ‘out-there’ in Puna, seen by relatively few visitors. Those who do come to the cape are hell bent on getting to a nearby tepid-water sea pool, known as Champagne Pool. More on that in our next blog. For directions on how to get to these island curiousities, consult your Hawaii Big Island Trailblazer guide.