One of my favorite places to visit on the Big Island is a series of tidepools at Miloliʻi where the last remaining Hawaiian fishing village remains.

Located 33 miles south of Kailua-Kona, the fishing village of Miloliʻi existed for generations prior to Western contact. Famous for ʻopelu fishing, Miloliʻi was renown for its productive waters and skilled fishermen.  But upon Western contact and the adoption of modern ways, traditional fishing ceased to exist every where else in the Hawaiian Islands — except at Miloliʻi.

From Highway 11, I turned onto the long 5 mile road that descends to the coast.  Miloliʻi is situated on a rocky coast where lava from the 1926 eruption of Mauna Loa entered the ocean.  The ‘a’a lava flow destroyed much of the fishing village but many of the original Hawaiian families rebuilt and still reside at Miloliʻi.  Some of them fish much as their ancestors did ages ago using traditional fishing spots handled down from one generation to the next.

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The 1926 lava flow left a jumble of rocks offshore that create a series of interconnected tide pools.

When I looked into the pools I saw large red pencil urchins or ha ‘uke ‘uke (Heterocentrotus mammillatus) and much smaller rock-boring or  ‘ina  ‘ula (Echinometra mathaei).

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The further I hopped from rock to rock the more emerald green the water became.

When I looked in cracks between the rocks I saw a number of opae (shimps) going from one urchin to the next.

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The largest of the emerald pools is located at the far end of the rocks.  There was no wind that morning and therefore no ripples on the water which enabled me to get a unobstructed look at the coral in the pools.

The pool was about 15 feet wide, 25 feet long and 8 feet deep, and contained a veritable garden of coral.

Cauliflower coral (Pocillopora meandrina) and lobe coral (Porites lobata) were the most common types of coral in the pool.

The shallowest of the pools were home to tiny fishes — aholehole (Kuhlia sandvicensis) and manini (Acanthurus triostegus).

After photographing the pools from above, I snorkeled in the pool to get a closer look.  I was thrilled to see butterflyfish, tangs, wrasses, jacks and a other host of other fishes.  My only regreat is that I do not have an underwater camera so could not take amy photos underwater.  So you’ll just have to go to Miloliʻi and dive in these tide pools yourself to see this amazing sight. Truly a spectacular sight!


Milolii, Hawaii, Wikipedia

Coral Reefs, Hawaiian Encyclopedia

Porites lobata, Hawaiian Coral, Marine Photography by Keoki Stender

Lobe Coral, Waikiki Aquarium