Cape Kumukahi Lighthouse
Cape Kumukahi is of great spiritual importance to native Hawai'ians. It is the Easternmost point of land in Hawai'i and therefore where the sun first shines upon Hawai'i every day of every year.
The traditional history of many native Hawai'ians of Puna tells of the Tahitians first landing on this Island at Cape Kumukahi, arriving here from Molokai.
The spiritual significance of the cape is highlighted by the Kapoho eruption of 1960. Just before six o'clock on the morning of January 13th of 1960 the earth began to quake resulting in the opening of large cracks yawned in the ground around the village of Kapoho. There are photos of men standing in the cracks with only their heads visible. Within hours towering fountains of lava were spewing from one of these cracks. The cinder and 'a'a engulfed the village and much of Cape Kumukahi. The spiritual message from Madam Pele was sent by leaving the church and the lighthouse untouched.
The lava, upon reaching the light, divided into two streams. The result was that it completely surrounded the pad of the lighthouse but never flowed onto it. The message was that these two structures were good for the aina and her people. The rest had to go.
Cape Kumukahi has a long history of being a somewhat dangerous landfall for European seamen. The record goes back to the first european vessel to arrive in the Hawaiian Islands. About 1:00 am of December 19th of 1778 Captain Cook's vessel Resolution was nearly grounded on Cape Kumukahi. Exceptional seamanship, resulting in significant damage to the rigging of Resolution, pulled the ship out to sea in the nick of time.
The current 125 foot steel structure was first lit in 1934 after an awkward start. It was automated in 1960. The automated light system was installed due to the fact that the 1960 eruption in Kapoho destroyed all of the ancillary structures, including the light keeper's quarters. The United States Coast Guard operates the light as an aid to navigation.