Big Wave Season

From our house, we feel the beat of the waves like the soul of the island, a part of every breath. When the waves get big, we get excited. Our hearts speed up to meet the rhythm of the ocean. We watch weather maps and wave buoys so we don't miss out.

Of course the best is right here at home, on our northeast-facing cliffs. The ocean floor drops off steeply. With deep water this close, the really big waves break alarmingly near.

Because we are on the young end of the island, the vibrations propagate through the solid lava flow to shake the earth for blocks inland. The effect is primal, and the pictures we get are intense.

When storms form off Japan, it's time to head to the End of the World, also called Kualanui Point. This rough jumble of lava on the Kona Coast dramatically takes on monster waves.

It's a good spot to wear jeans, because the rocks we'll perch on are rough. The waves get pumping, and I just can't stay away, so I'm glad of my camera's weatherproof case -- and the change of clothes I've learned to pack! We've been there at times when we couldn't tear ourselves away until after sunset, and had to grab a hotel room in Kona to catch the morning light the next day.

Summer Swells are a delight to see. Nearby, just down the Red Road a piece is MacKenzie Park. Dramatic cliffs funnel the waves to create a drenching splash dozens of feet above. Ironwood trees lend a mystical air, and remnants of the King's Road along the coast encourage people to tell spooky stories about the place

As you approach the island's southernmost point, Ka Lae, everything changes. Windswept trees and looming windmills flank the wandering road, which narrows until it dies out completely at a favorite local fishing spot. Sometimes, two swells come from different directions and crash in watery fury. The waves actually break against each other in the middle of the ocean!

Deep water makes for close waves and dramatic captures. When conditions are just right, giant blow holes spout water dozens of feet in the air.