Bird of Good Omen

And a good south wind sprung up behind;
The Albatross did follow,
And every day, for food or play,
Came to the mariners’ hollo!

Another adventure on land, but the sea was not far away.

On Sunday, I accompanied a friend to Ka‘ena Point (the westernmost tip of O‘ahu) via the Ka‘ena Point Trail. We started on the Mokule‘ia side.

Looking back to where we left the car:

start of trail

The trail is a dirt road:

dirt road

It’s fairly flat, but can be rough going in some places due to the ruts made by 4-wheel drive / off-road vehicles.

Fortunately, the day was overcast and hazy (due to VOG), or it would have been dreadfully hot.

Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.


The approach to the Natural Area Reserve. Boulders and a heavy gate allow people, but not vehicles, to pass:

people only no vehicles

Just beyond is the fenced-in reserve area with gates designed to keep out predators like rats, dogs, feral cats, etc.

Why the precautions? Ka‘ena Point is a nesting area for Laysan albatrosses (Phoebastria immutabilis) / moli and wedge-tailed shearwaters (Puffinus pacificus) / ‘ua‘u kani.

The shearwaters were gone.

One of many empty burrows:

shearwater burrow

But the albatrosses were there!

Laysan albatross nest

They are beautiful birds:

Laysan albatross flying

The trusty DSLR camera has a mechanical problem, so I had to focus manually. (I’ve been spoiled by the auto-focus feature.) It’s amazing that I managed to get some okay pics of the flying birds.

Ick! Parasites:

ick parasites

We were fortunate to see some sea creatures as well.

monk seal sign

Napping on a flat rock among tide pools were two Hawaiian monk seals (Monachus schauinslandi):

monk seals

Aw, cute!


Offshore (too far away for photos), there were some passing humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) making their presence known by breaching and spouting.

On a smaller scale, the rocks were dotted with helmet urchins (Colobocentrotus atratus).

helmet urchin

Near the monk seals, the beach was covered with coral shingle. A lot of the pieces had curious holes in them:

coral with hole

Puu Pueo is the peak at the point.

Puu Pueo

Looking toward the south along the coast:

coastline from Kaena Point

In the two photos above, you can make out parts of the fencing.

There is something to be said about road cuts:


Dike exposed in the cut:


The end of the line:


The trail just south of the point is a victim of erosion…a good example of the power of the sea. There is a side trail at a slightly higher elevation that bypasses the gap and rejoins the main trail on the other side.

O dream of joy! is this indeed
The lighthouse top I see?

While it isn’t as picturesque as a traditional lighthouse, the Ka‘ena Point Passing Light is still an important navigational aid:

Kaena Point light

There are a number of native Hawaiian plants to keep an eye out for.

One of them is the endangered ‘ohai (Sesbania tomentosa):

‘ohai flowers

There is also the very pretty hinahina (Heliotropium anomalum):


On the way back toward the south part of the island, this view of clouds and sunlight over the Wai‘anae Range was a fitting end to the day’s trek:

Waianae clouds

*Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge


One comment on “Bird of Good Omen

  1. starbuck5250 says:

    Wow, what gorgeous photos. Glad it wasn’t too hot, and happy you got to see the monk seals and albatrosses!

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