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Preserving Sacred Places: Makapu'u


Preserving Sacred Places: Makapu'u

SurfRider Oahu

Images and story by  Rafael Bergstrom

Images and story by Rafael Bergstrom

The energy of this place shifts my mind to another dimension. I’m at a loss for an exact adjective to describe it – in fact I’m inspired to create new words to define its impact on me. There is something hinted at, but not spoken, a spirit of accumulated experience, mana, and magnificence. The regenerative power of the place beams through, echoing its eternity, humbling me into a state of appreciation for something bigger than myself. Standing amidst a place such as this, my demons are distracted, I see the world as a collective, not of individual desires, but intertwined forces of harmony. This is how I define a sacred place, an etherialistic spectaculo.

I arrive at Makapuʻu beach almost every week, just before the sun beams burst over the horizon. Most times I have this sacred sweep of sand and surf all to myself during that first hour of light. It is a place of meditation as I walk along the seasonally changing mounds of sands, or glide and tumble through the curls, tubes, and barrels that give me the rides that have forever changed my life. It is here that I found my deepest connection to the ocean and its immensity, its clarity, and its soothing power. That connection extends beyond the physicality of the world, it moves into a realm reserved for the unthinkable, the realm of the sacred.

 "It is here that I found my deepest connection to the ocean and its immensity, its clarity, and its soothing power."

The stretch of Oahu from Makapu’u to Hanauma Bay has not been heavily touched by private or commercial development. It is an area unlike any other in this island - not a single house dots the shoreline or restricts access to the beach, not a single hotel casts shadows from above. Inspiring activist, John Kelly of Save our Surf, helped avert major development here by uniting and engaging communities in collective action. Land owners such as Hawaiian Homelands held strong on not developing Makapu’u beach area. The City, County and State Parks’ Systems have maintained preservation of the Ka Iwi shoreline for its sacred beauty. It is our job as engaged citizens to ensure that never changes.

Some mornings I see solitary individuals walking the beach of Makapu’u collecting the human liter that often dots our beaches. Groups like Surfrider Foundation -Oahu Chapter and Sustainable Coastlines Hawai’i frequently coordinate large efforts to clear Makapu’u of micro plastic and garbage accumulation. As wonderful as these efforts are, cleaning up should not be the ultimate effort of protection.

To really preserve our most sacred places we must deeply look at our lifestyles, choose to consume less wasteful products, and foster deeper connections to our resources. It is our job to keep to keep plastics, styrofoam, and debris from strangling our marine life and threatening our ocean ecosystems. These are preventable problems.

Regardless of race, gender, culture, economic stature, education, religion, or political affiliation, we can all connect on a deep love for this earth. Sometimes we have to give up the comforts of convenience to preserve something greater. All of our little steps of awareness and lifestyle change together will eventually facilitate a regenerative leap for humanity.