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Living in Pele's (the Hawaiian god of fire and volcanoes) shadow has never been easy.  When Europeans first viewed the coastline below, they saw many villages.  Sinking shores, great waves and changing times caused them to be abandoned.  You may still see the ruins of several villages along the coast and others have been buried by recent lava flows.

Great earthquakes in 1868 shook this island causing a tsunami (tidal wave) to batter the shoreline below. The following accounts are from passengers aboard the schooner "Oddfellow" cruising along the coast nearly two weeks after the disaster.

...Sunday, April 15, 1868. Made Kealakomo, Puna, at daylight. The houses nearest the beach gone; the same at Kahue. All swept clean at Apua. Reaching Keauhou... Every building, eleven in all, washed away.

...Apua, the last village in Puna, was swept clear and sunk. Its pretty sand beach and miniature bay, rendering it a resort for fishermen, are no more; the sea stands some six feet deep where houses once stood...
Hele ke ala mauka o Ka'u,
Hele ke ala makai o Puna,
I Kama'ama'a, i Kapualei.
E loa ka wa i 'Apua.
Ka pi'ina i Kukala'ula.
Ho'opuka aku la ka Pu'ulena,
'Aina a ke akua i noho ai.
The path goes upland to Ka'u,
The path goes seaward to Puna,
To Kama'ama'a, to Kapualei.
Long is the time in 'Apua.
The ascent is to Kukala'ula.
The path emerges at Pu'ulena,
land where the goddess dwells.