Kahoolawe Virtual Field Trip

Virtually Hawaii features several Virtual Field Trips that have been prepared by students, either at the University or in our local schools. Often these trips have great appeal to our electronic visitors, and so we are very pleased to present this exciting trip to the remote island of Kahoolawe, which was prepared by Cristina Lumpkin.

This virtual field trip to Kahoolawe is based on a real field trip made by student researchers led by UH professor of geography, Tom Giambelluca, in September 1996. The researchers were examining the impacts of past restoration attempts in order to recommend revegetation strategies to the Kahoolawe Island Reserve Commission.

There are no luxury hotels on Kahoolawe, nor any restaurants or even an airport where you can land a plane full of tourists. You cannot book your next vacation there, but you can come along on this scientific expedition to the island to research revegetation strategies.

Before you go, you have a lot of preparations to make. Visitors to the island must bring along all the supplies they will need, including fresh water for drinking and washing, tents, sleeping bags and a tarp to line the ground, and all the food they will consume. Having made these preparations, you check the weather reports anxiously at the last minute. Small craft advisories are of particular interest, as these can mean cancellation of the entire trip. If everything is clear, you fly to Maui on the last flight of the day before your trip to Kahoolawe. There you are met by a member of the Protect Kahoolawe Ohana (PKO), the only group with permission to visit the island. You spend the night under the stars on Maui, but you don't get to sleep very long.

At 4am, you are awakened by the members of the PKO. Time to start loading the small fishing boat which will transport you to the island. All items going to the island must be wrapped in plastic bags and tightly sealed to protect them for the moment when you toss them into the ocean to ride the waves ashore. You climb onto the boat finally, braving the engine fumes and making nervous jokes about seasickness to your fellow adventurers. At last you see the island clearly, much larger than you expected. Now the moment arrives when you leave the relative security of the fishing boat for the much smaller and less sturdy rubber boat called a Zodiac. Kahoolawe has no truly safe harbor to offer a boat, so the fishing boat floats offshore, with the Zodiac carrying the first batch of visitors closer to the island.

Arriving upon Kahoolawe
The Hike Up
The Research Site
The Research Project
The Hike Down
Returning to the Base Camp

Author: Cristina Lumpkin cristina@mael.soest.hawaii.edu
Copyright by Cristina Lumpkin
Curator Lori Glaze
Copyright © 1996
All Rights Reserved.