Pahoa digs: Off the beaten path

Musicians, dancers, yogis and yoginis harmonize their beats to form an unlikely band Sundays at Kehena Beach on the Big Island.

Citizens of Pahoa and a few visitors who have strayed off the beaten track play flutes, beat on bongo drums and strum guitars every week on the unofficial “drum circle” day.

Uninhibited souls dance to the smooth beats, and yoga enthusiasts sync their asanas (yoga poses, for the less yoga familiar) to the tunes.

Did I mention that approximately half of the partakers are buck naked?

Kehena, located in the Puna district of Hawaii, is one of the few beaches in the state of Hawai’i that is considered a clothing optional beach.

The black sand beach welcomes all beachgoers: short, tall, big, small, those in bikinis or board shorts, and yes, even those who prefer to go au naturel.

Meeting some really funny characters is inevitable on the shores of Kehena. People from around the world visit, enamored with the secluded location and easygoing aura. Don’t worry though, the general atmosphere of the beach is friendly. It is not uncommon to be offered a freshly-cracked coconut or to be the recipient of someone’s surplus of papaya or mountain apples.

On good days, dolphins can be seen frolicking through the waves. Some strong swimmers take advantage of the opportunity, grab their snorkels and swim out to see the dolphins up close. And, if you’re really lucky, you may be able to catch a glimpse of a whale jumping out of the water.

However, the current at Kehena is not to be taken lightly. Caution is urged when the waves look choppy. A California man drowned in the ocean in December 2006, according to a media release on the Hawaii Police Department website.

A piece of advice that is always good to follow, from the State of Hawaii Department of Public Health: “If in doubt, DON’T go out!”

Despite the possibility of the occasional rough day, the surf at Kehena can be calm and swimmer-friendly. Crowds of people wade in the water for instant refreshment on warm, sunny days. Trees create cool, shaded places to lounge for the ocean-shy, while other treeless areas satisfy sunshine-hungry sunbathers.

Making the trip to Kehena is a unique and rewarding experience. Forget about the fast-paced world, listen to the waves caressing the shore, slow down a bit and melt into the laid-back Hawaiian lifestyle.

This is volume 3 in the Pahoa Digs series. Interested in reading previous installments? Pay a visit to kaleo.org or harleydiven.wordpress.com for the full series.

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