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In Hawaii, you may hear one natural phenomenon before you see it. As waves splash against a rocky coastline, some spurt up through a natural crevice to spray mist into the air. When the wave conditions are really good, it looks like a geyser but it is a blow hole.
There are many blow holes in the islands. Some are marked, like the Halona Blow Hole near Sandy Beach on Oahu, others are encountered randomly. The first blow hole I saw was along the Leeward coast of Oahu on a hike to Kaena Point. I didn’t know then how spontaneous they are – I thought you could walk by any time and see it, like Old Faithful at Yellowstone.
That idea was proven wrong when I was trying to take a picture of the Halona Blow Hole. We were at the overlook and the sign said the blow hole was beneath us, but I could not see it. Now I know that it is most active when the tides are high and the winds are h3. Even then, you may have to watch for a while before it produces a noticeable plume.
I have also learned that it is often easier to locate the blow hole by listening than by watching. The water makes an odd sound as it hits the rock formation. Even when only light mist is emitted, the sound is obvious and gives a better indication of where to focus. The sound reminds me of the game we played as children, blowing into an empty soft drink bottle to make a hollow noise.
Yesterday, as I stood on the shore at Turtle Bay, I heard the sound and recognized it immediately. I looked around but saw nothing. By walking toward the sound, I finally saw a round crevice that looked damp and some light ocean spray danced out. Soon the wind, waves and rock produced a plume of water. The visual results were sporadic – sometimes nothing, sometimes light mist, infrequently a water spout – but the noise was there every time the waves washed in. It was as though they were adding a musical note to the percussion of their pounding on the shore in nature’s seaside melody.