This is an Earthcache, so please take a couple of minutes to read this and you will learn a little about the geology and marine life. Honaunau Bay (also known as Two Step Beach) is easy to get to from Kona-Kailua area. This bay has some of the finest snorkeling in all of the Big Island of Hawaii. We found the snorkeling here better than even Captain Cook Bay.
When we snorkeled here we found a large variety of tropical fish, large green sea turtles, cool eels, and even a family of dolphins with a baby dolphin. The clarity of the water is fantastic and the reefs are beautiful. The water is calm and the swimming is easy. Make sure you have experience snorkeling, use appropriate snorkeling gear, and use good swimming safety. Use your GPS phone or device while on shore to see where the general location of the geocache is located. Once you see the general area, just remember that. You do NOT need to bring your GPS out into the water - you can use it if you want, but its not necessary.
The bay is beautiful and you will want to swim all around to see the variety of sea life. Just snorkel out into the bay and keep your eye on the sea floor. You will come to a large open area and there will be a HUGE word spelled out on the floor of the ocean. Its practically impossible to miss and you will easily be able to determine the word.
GEOGRAPHY: The Honaunau coastal plain, is unique, as it was created by ancient basaltic lava flows from the Mauna Loa volcano. What is basaltic lava you ask? Basalt lava is dark in color (here at the Bay its black) and is made up of 45% to 54% silica and is rich in iron and magnesium (footnote #1). The type of basaltic lava that formed the Bay is Pahoehoe lava. Pahoehoe is a Hawaiian word roughly translated to mean "good to walk". This type of lava flows out on flat or gentle sloping plains and cools to ropy or billowy surfaces (footnote #2). Many people (ourselves included) think that it looks like big fluffy pillows, some of which become scrunched up and look like lumpy ropes.
This slow-flowing Pahoehoe lava poured over the existing lava coastline into the ocean and formed the southwest wall of Honaunau Bay (footnote #3). This created a natural bay with slow-sloping underwater terrain that was perfect for coral to grow and sea life to take root. This bay is home to some of the most beautiful coral reefs on the Big Island. Healthy coral reefs are among the most biologically diverse and economically valuable ecosystems on earth. Coral ecosystems are a source of food for millions; protect coastlines from storms and erosion, provide habitat and spawning grounds for economically important fish species, and are sources of new medicines (footnote #4).
Nestled below the water of this bay are lots of coral formations, mostly belonging to the genera Lobites (lobe coral) and Pocillopora (cauliflower coral). The cauliflower coral forms large colonies that have a lumpy surface texture and are a greenish-brown color. Make sure you take the opportunity to visit some of the coral reef’s inhabitants- there are hundreds of varieties of tropical fish and other marine life that live in the bay. Please take care to not touch or stand on any of the coral, at it is easy to damage this ecosystem.
LOGGING TASK: To log this Earthcache, send us a message with the following information:
1. Do you see more billowy or ropy Pahoehoe lava at the "two step" entrance to the Bay?
2. Why do you think Pahoehoe lava is relatively smooth and flat?
3. What does the lava flow have to do with the creation of the fertile coral reef? 4. What was the word you saw spelled out on the ocean floor?
Please do not post your answers in your logging of the cache - send the answers via message to us. Enjoy the cache and afterwards go get some shave ice and enjoy Hawaii! Mahalo!
Footnote #1: Facts from Oregon State University - Volcano World -
Footnote #2: Facts from DecadeVolcano.net.
Footnote #3: Facts from the National Park Service - NPS.org
Footnote #4: Facts from the National Park Service - NPS.org