Yes, those were witches you saw paddling around Hilo Bay

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A cackling coven converged Sunday morning on Reed’s Bay Beach Park, exchanging brooms for paddleboards, kayaks and canoes.

The fourth annual Fly Around Hilo Bay once again welcomed all witches — and warlocks, too — in full regalia for a Halloween paddle from the beach, around Coconut Island and back on their water vessels.

A cackling coven converged Sunday morning on Reed’s Bay Beach Park for the 4th annual Fly Around Hilo Bay. Photo Credit: Nathan Christophel/Big Island Now

The gathering, organized by Pam Owens, co-owner of Pineapples restaurant in downtown Hilo, also included a potluck and fellowship.

“This is my fourth year and we always have so much fun with Pam,” said Irene Donquis-Moore, who is originally from Venezuela and now lives in Hilo. “We always have food and drinks and girls talking. So it’s really fun to have a girls’ day out in the water.”


Witches usually fly through the deepest of dark nights with only a full moon to light the way. Kea‘au’s Julie Reinholeson, on her maiden Fly Around Hilo Bay, agreed that they couldn’t have asked for a better day: a few clouds in the sunny, blue sky above the water.

Jan Estelle, who was born in Salem, Mass., heads toward the beach at Reed’s Bay Beach Park in Hilo on Sunday to grab her broom before heading out for the fourth annual Fly Around Hilo Bay. Photo Credit: Nathan Christophel/Big Island Now

“I think witches were kind of done wrong,” Reinholeson said. “They were probably just nature-loving women that didn’t want to be Christians, so they persecuted them.”

The witches who turned out for Sunday’s event had quite a different fate. They were welcomed with open arms by spectators watching from the beach or the bridge to Coconut Island.


Donquis-Moore said the event allows those who participate to be whatever they want for a day. There were lots of pointy hats and other witchy wardrobe, and also a skeleton and a glittery orange-and-black spider.

“So there’s no judgement,” she said. “Everybody’s in the same boat, so to speak.”

Jan Estelle of Hilo was another first-timer at Sunday’s paddle. She wanted to come in the past but hadn’t been able to make it until this year.


“Today I was determined,” Estelle said after she ran to grab her broom. “It just seemed like so much fun.” 

Hmm. Is it a coincidence that she appeared to be the only participant with a broom and paddle for the event and she was born in Salem, Mass., famous for its witch trials in the 17th century?

  • Irene Donquis-Moore, standing in the water, poses for a photo with a friend before launching from Reed’s Bay beach Sunday morning for the fourth annual Fly Around Hilo Bay. Photos in slideshow by Nathan Christophel/Big Island Now

And what better way to celebrate the spooky season the day before All Hallows Eve than being on the water in paradise and coming together with friends and meeting new ones?

“I love Halloween,” Estelle said. “I love being in costume. It’s just fun. So this was a great witch opportunity.”

Nathan Christophel
Nathan Christophel is a full-time reporter with Pacific Media Group. He has more than 25 years of experience in journalism as a reporter, copy editor and page designer. He previously worked at the Hawaii Tribune-Herald in Hilo. Nathan can be reached at [email protected]
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