On the North Shore of Kauai there are caves in the Ha'ena District that are known as "wet" caves because they have water in them. One of them is right at the edge of the road to Ke'e, and the other is uphill behind it, accessed by a short trail through the woods (or jungle, whichever you prefer).
When I first came to Kauai many years ago my Hawaiian uncle told me that the lower wet cave was called "Waikapalae," and the upper cave was "Waikanaloa." Since then I have often seen the names reversed on many maps. Which one is correct?
For the answer I turn to our resident authority, Frederick B. Wichman, author of Kauai: Ancient Place-Names and Their Stories:
Kanaloa was one of the four major Hawaiian gods, the brother of Kane. The two were noted for digging sources of drinking water as they toured the various islands. The upper wet cave was dug by him and it is called Wai-a-Kanaloa, "water made by Kanaloa."Wichman continues on to say that the lake within the cave was called Hala-aniani, a phrase of uncertain meaning. Wichman translates it as "clear pandanus," which is literally correct, but which doesn't make any sense, even figuratively. More importantly, he says, "The waters were thought to be able to restore an ailing person back to health."
The water in the cave lake is icy cold, but incredibly refreshing (interestingly, aniani can also mean "cool and refreshing"), so outstandingly so that it has always reminded me of the healing effects of the charged pool of water in the movie, Cocoon.
For many years this was the site of the locally famous "Blue Room," a dome-shaped grotto that was reached by a low, narrow channel from the lake only when the water was not so high that it covered the entrance to the channel. At the right time of a sunny day, once you reached the grotto you found yourself in a pool of brilliant blue water with a brilliant blue dome overhead. It was awe-inspiring. One time I brought an underwater flashlight and dove down below the grotto. I reached a ledge below which the cavern seemed to open up into a clear blue space without sides or bottom, so I quickly came back up.
At a scientific level, the dome was covered with calcite, which reflected the light from the water, which came from sunlight pouring through a hole somewhere in the complex of lava tubes inside the mountain. Once I saw two scuba divers coming out of the cave after exploring the tubes, but I didn't get a chance to talk to them about their experience. And there was a story of someone who went into the grotto during a rainy period, got caught in a rush of water, and drowned. In recent years the water level has lowered to the point where the grotto is now part of the cave and no longer seems as special as it did. However, the blue light may be gone, but the magic is still there.
Earlier this year I brought my son, Pierre, and his family to Waikanaloa for a swim, and of course I took some pictures with my Fuji Finepix 40i digital camera. After downloading them to my camera I was surprised to find that two of the five shots inside the cave showed odd, circular objects that I have since been told are called "Orbs." Many people apparently think that they are intelligent beings or extra-terrestrial entities, but to date I am more impressed with the view of Dr. Bruce Maccabee that they are flash reflections of airborne particles like dust or pollen, based on experiments that he conducted. Pollen would fit the cave area, and might also explain similar orbs photographed in the Thurston Lava Tube on the Big island and in the forest of Koke'e on Kauai, all the photos of which were taken with a flash. Until I see better evidence to the contrary, this is the most likely explanation I've seen so far.
On the other hand, a VERY BIG hand, some more recent photos of the Wai-a-Kanaloa wet cave demonstrate phenomena totally different from orbs, and completely inexplicable in ordinary terms. In these photos, taken with a 5.0 megapixel Canon Power Shot S500, something is happening that hadn't oughter.
The occasion was a visit to the cave by a group of women who had recently completed a two-week lomilomi course on Kauai. Among them were Susan Pa'iniu Floyd and my wife, Gloria. A series of fourteen shots begins with a blurred image of the cave entrance, which might have been caused by the photographer shaking the camera by accident. The next shot shows a very odd type of double-exposure, odd because the features of the women are very clear, but there is some kind of image shift up and to the left that looks very ghost-like (I'm not saying it is a ghost, I'm saying it looks like one... or two).
The next three shots are of one of the other women and they are clearly all triple exposures. This presents a big explanation problem, since my research on the web indicates that digital cameras don't do double exposures, much less triple ones. According to web experts, any double exposure effect has to be done inside a computer, and the originals of these are like this right out of the camera.
Did the camera lens somehow become defective?Well, if so, it fixed itself for the next three photos, which are perfectly normal. And then...are you ready for this?
The next photo after the landscape shot is of one of the women inside a car, and it is a doozy. Green light is pouring in through the windshield, white light is pouring over the dashboard like a waterfall, and some kind of white stuff seems to be hanging off the woman's ear. The woman, the seat, part of the dash, part of the roof, and the shift lever are all clear. And the woman's shadow is clearly outlined against the green light.
The next photo is of one of the other women inside the car. Here the woman's head is clear, but the view through the window behind her looks like the sky of another planet, with green light at the horizon level. Odd particles like white dust float above her head, passing over the vertical window bar. The window bar is oddly distorted, but the "sky" is definitely behind it, except for a bit of green that seems to be dribbling out of her mouth.
And are you ready for this? The next two photos taken with the same camera right after leaving the cave area show two other women inside the car with completely normal backgrounds. In fact, all the rest of the photos taken by that camera in this series are normal.
All the photos mentioned, plus more of the cave site itself, can be viewed online by clicking on Kauai and then Waikanaloa at Hawaiian Sacred Sites.
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Copyright 2004 Aloha International