Coral art in Big Island, Hawaii

There is graffiti, and then there is graffiti. Its looked down upon by the law-abiding citizens, by the police. Its loved by the graffiti artists, and the big city gangs.

So, in Big Island, Hawaii, it was a pleasant surprise to see graffiti was perceived as art, primarily because of the medium used.

So, what do they use for graffiti in Hawaii? Spray paint?

No, coral.

By highway 19, or the Hawaii Big Island Belt Road, you will see a lot of examples of Hawaiian graffiti by the roadside when you drive up the Kohala coast north of the Kona airport. The highway passes over huge lava fields, the reminders of old volcanic eruptions. Its mostly craggy 'a'a lava, which some yellowish green grass growing here and there. But the most remarkable about the immediate scenery was the graffiti everywhere, created by arranging pieces of white coral on black lava.

On our trip to Mouna Kea, the van driver was positively praising "our Hawaiian graffiti". He used it as a way of showing how Hawaii is, well, different (not that he needed to tell me :) ). He also suggested that the best way write our names on the lava was to re-use coral from another graffiti, because "thats how it's normally done". He was joking, of course.

On a different day, on our drive to Hawi in the north coast, we stopped someplace to get up close and personal with the graffiti. M found a coral in the shape of a heart! Someone's labor of love, perhaps.

No, we didn't feel upto rearranging someone else's graffiti to write our names on lava.