Pele Publications is named after Madame Pele, the mythological volcano goddess that makes her home on Hawai’i Island (also known as the Big Island.) Over a period of 15 years I had a second home on the island, and I would go there several times per year to write or work on projects. I read everything I could find about the mythology and culture of Hawai’i island, and when it came time to choose a name for my publishing company, I chose the name of Pele. I of course had to respectfully ask for her permission, because as the legend goes, you don’t want to make the Volcano Goddess angry unless you want her to erupt with another wild lava flow.
I loved to explore the island with its rugged but stunning beauty, and I’d revisit my favorite spots on every trip. I amassed quite a collection of photos that captured the scenes that resonated with me and inspired my creativity. I’ve chosen some of my favorites to share with you in this photo album. I hope that you enjoy them.
Catherine Kitcho, Author and Publisher, Pele Publications
Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park (Hilo side) - Halemaumau
Every visit to the Big Island included several hours at the park, because Pele’s home is at the Halemaumau Crater, within the Kilauea caldera. In the early days, there was a trail that took you right to the rim of the crater. You’d often see “offerings” left at the rim by locals, to appease Pele. They would usually include flowers, fruits, or little bottles of gin. In March of 2010, Pele awakened, and there was an active eruption within Halemaumau. My visit in late 2010 meant that I could only view it from a distance. After 2010, eruptions continued, and a lava lake formed at the bottom of the crater.
Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park (Hilo side) - Thurston Lava Tube and Devastation Trail
The park is a stunning contrast of natural and geologic features. The Thurston Lava Tube is located in a thick rain forest, and it’s a very large and dark cave, silent except for a few drops of water emitting from the ceiling (and the tourists walking through.) I’d usually wait until it cleared out so I could walk through it solo, absorbing the cool, calming stillness. In contrast, the Devastation Trail is located in an arid area, with bright sunshine and heat. It has the appearance of a moonscape.
Place of Refuge - Pu’uhonua o Honaunau (Kona side)
This is a National Historic Park, located along the coast west of the town of Honaunau. In the 1700s and early 1800s, it was a place of refuge and safety for defeated warriors, those unable to fight, and those who violated “kapu” sacred laws. Part of the area was designated as the grounds for the royal chiefs, separated from the refuge area by a huge stone wall. In 1819, Kamehameha II abolished traditional religious practices, so these structures were abandoned, but in the 1920s, the area was set aside as a county park, and then became a national historic park in 1961. This is one of my favorite places on the island, because of its strong and rejuvenating spiritual energy.
Waipi’o Valley (north side, Hamakua Coast)
In the 14th and 15th centuries, Waipi’o was known as the Valley of the Kings, and the seat of political power. It was the site of many battles. This overlook spot is one of the most photographed on the island. There used to be Jeep and mule-drawn wagon tours to the bottom of the valley, but as of 2022, the road has become too dangerous and is closed to traffic, including hikers. In the past, I had hiked it twice also did a tour, and there was lots to see, so some of those photos are included here.
Akaka Falls State Park (northeast side)
The waterfalls and tropical rain forest make for a photographer’s paradise, even on a cloudy or rainy day. A short hike takes you through bamboo archways, lush with blooming plants in every color of the rainbow, and two sets of falls: Kahuna Falls (100 feet), and Akaka Falls (442 feet.)