The Windward SideMakapuu to Kahuku

The Windward Side—Makapu‘u to Kahuku

O‘ahu’s windward (eastern) side is nestled between the turquoise ocean and the steep, deeply furrowed mountains of the Ko‘olau Range.  The windward coast is the wetter side of O‘ahu, and extends from Kahuku Point in the north to Makapu‘u Point in the south. 

Kailua and Kāne‘ohe are the windward side’s two main towns.  Tradewinds along this side of the island make it a popular place for sailing and windsurfing.  Numerous offshore islets along this coast are preserved as bird sanctuaries.  Some of these islets are accessible for recreational uses, while others are utilized for academic research purposes (see Moku-o-Lo‘e below).

 

Kahuku Point / James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge

Kahuku Point is the spot where the north shore ends and the windward coast begins.  Just south of Kahuku Point is the old sugarcane town of Kahuku, where the historic sugar mill has been converted into a shopping center.  Much of the old mill’s machinery is now included in the shopping center’s decor.

Located north of Kahuku is O‘ahu’s largest refuge, the 164-acre (66-ha) James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge encompasses native wetland habitat for endangered wetland birds of the Hawaiian Islands, including the ae‘o (Himantopus mexicanus knudseni, Hawaiian black-necked stilt); ‘alae ke‘oke (Fulica americana alai, Hawaiian coot); koloa maoli (Anas wyvilliana, Hawaiian duck); and ‘alae ‘ula (Gallinula chloropus sandvicensis, Hawaiian moorhen).

Guided tours of the Refuge are given by reservation from August 1 to February 15, but during the rest of the year, when the stilts are breeding and nesting, public access is not allowed.

[James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge, 808-637-6330, 2 miles (3.2 km) north of Kahuku town.  Guided public tours: Thurs: 4-5:30; Sat: 3-3:15.]

 

Mālaekahana State Recreation Area / Moku‘auia (Goat Island)

Just north of Lā‘ie is Mālaekahana State Recreation Area, which extends from Kalanai Point north to Makahoa Point.  Mālaekahana Beach is usually safe for swimming and also popular for other water activities such as surfing and windsurfing.

Picnic facilities are available at Kalanai Point, and camping is allowed with a permit.  At Makahoa Point, camping is allowed for a fee, and cabin rentals are also available.

Offshore of Mālaekahana State Recreation Area is Moku‘auia, also known as Goat Island, which may be accessed by swimming or snorkeling across the channel, or wading across at low tide.  Check with the lifeguards to make sure conditions are safe.  Moku‘auia means Island to One Side.”[i]

[Mālaekahana State Recreation Area, 808-293-1736, Kamehameha Highway (Hwy.) at Kalanai Point, Friends of Mālaekahana, open until 6:30.]

 

Lā‘ie / Polynesian Cultural Center

Mormon missionaries first arrived in the Hawaiian Islands in 1850, establishing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Lā‘ie, O‘ahu, and soon winning over large numbers of Hawaiians to their faith.  In 1865 the Mormons purchased 6,000 acres (2,428 ha) of land in the Lā‘ie region. 

In 1919, the Mormons in Lā‘ie used volcanic rocks and crushed coral to build a smaller version of the Mormon temple in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Constructed at the base of the Ko‘olau Mountains, the temple was dedicated on November 27, 1919, becoming the first Mormon temple built outside of the continental United States.

In 1955, the Mormons established the Church College of Hawai‘i in Lā‘ie.  By 1971, Church College had about 1,300 students, many of whom came from various Pacific Islands. 

Then in 1974 the school became a branch campus of Provo, Utah’s Brigham Young University, a 4-year college with an enrollment of about 2,000 undergraduates.  The Mormon temple is considered the “cornerstone” of the college.

Polynesian shows put on by the college in the 1950s led to the college’s construction of the Polynesian Cultural Center, which opened on October 12, 1963 in Lā‘ie.  Founded by the Mormon Church, the Polynesian Cultural Center is run by the college and staffed by students. 

Over the years the Center has expanded, including a major expansion in 1975, making the site a major O‘ahu attraction.

Today the Polynesian Cultural Center encompasses 42 acres (17 ha), including seven theme villages arranged around lagoons.  The villages represent various cultures of Polynesia, including the Marquesas, Sāmoa, Fiji, New Zealand, Tahiti, Tonga, and the Hawaiian Islands.  Each theme village has its own unique music, dances, and crafts.

Craft demonstrations and other activities are ongoing, including coconut cracking, tree climbing, and fire starting as well as participatory activities such as lei making and rope making. 

Also regularly scheduled at the Polynesian Cultural Center are shows and films including an IMAX theater that provides quality viewing.  The park also features a replica of a typical mission house of the early 1800s.  An event called the “Pageant of the Long Canoes” takes place aboard canoe stages on the lagoons.

A daily highlight at the Polynesian Cultural Center is the 90-minute post-dinner show, which includes erupting volcanoes and other special effects.  About 900,000 people visit the Polynesian Cultural Center each year, making it O‘ahu’s second most visited attraction after the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial.

[Polynesian Cultural Center, 808-293-3333; 800-367-7060, 55-370 Kamehameha Highway (Hwy. 83), Lā‘ie, www.polynesia.com; 12:30-9, Mon.-Sat. Daily Pageant: 2:30; Polynesian Show: 7:30-9.]

 

Punalu‘u Beach Park

Punalu‘u Beach is protected by an offshore reef providing a nice swimming area when the surf is not too big.  Be cautious, however, as there may be strong currents, particularly offshore from the mouth of Wai‘ono Stream. Punalu‘u means “Coral dived for”[ii]

[Punalu‘u Beach Park, just north of Kahana Bay.]

 

Kahana Valley and Bay / Huilua Fishpond

Kahana Valley is about 2 miles (3.2 km) wide and 4 miles (6.4 km) long.  The valley is owned by the State of Hawai‘i, which bought it from the Robinson family in 1965.  Kahana Valleyis an intact Hawaiian ahupua‘a, a traditional Hawaiian land division that follows the natural watershed and extends from the mountains to the sea.  Kahana means “Cutting.”[iii]

In ancient days, Kahana Valley was extensively planted with kalo (Colocasia esculenta, taro), and in recent years numerous important archeological sites have been located throughout the valley. 

Kahana Valley was planted in sugarcane in the early 1900s and the upper valley was used for military training during World War II.  The lower valley is now home to about 30 Hawaiian families.

Huilua Fishpond is located on Kahana Bay and fed by freshwater springs.  The fishpond is said to have been built by the legendary ancient race of people known as menehune (see Menehune section, Chapter 3). 

According to Hawaiian legend, the fishpond “...was connected by an underground passage dug by a shark to a pond at Kualoa Point, as fish sometimes appear and disappear and are believed to escape at the Kualoa pond.”[iv]  Huilua means “Twice joined.”[v]

[Kahana State Park, 808-237-7766, Kamehameha Highway (Hwy. 83) at Kahana Bay.]

 

Crouching Lion

According to ancient Hawaiian legend, this rock was a Tahitian demigod named Kupua, who was a relative of the volcano goddess Pele.  Kupua was said to have been caught in a jealous fight between Pele and her sister Hi‘iaka.  The modern name comes from the rock’s resemblance to a crouching lion.

[Crouching Lion, just north of Ka‘a‘wa, north of Mile Marker 27.]

 

Ka‘a‘awa

The tiny town of Ka‘a‘awa is located just south of Crouching Lion.  Fronted by a stone wall is Swanzy Beach Park on 1.5 acres (.6 ha) land donated by Mrs. F. M. (Julie Judd) Swanzy in 1921.  Camping is allowed on weekends.

 

Senator Fong’s Plantation Gardens

The gardens encompass 725 acres (293 ha), and may be viewed by a narrated 45-minute long tram ride through five separate valleys.  These well-maintained gardens include 100 varieties of nuts and fruits. 

The gardens are owned by former United States Senator Hiram Fong, who served that office until his retirement in 1977.

[Senator Fong’s Plantation Gardens, 808-239-6775, 47-285 Pūlama Road, open 10-4 daily.  Directions: 1 mile (1.6 km) off Kahekili Highway (Hwy. 83).

 

Byodo-In / Valley of the Temples Memorial Park

Byodo-In, the “Temple of Equality,” is a replica of a 900-year-old temple in Uji, Japan.  Dedicated in 1968 and symbolic of the mythical phoenix, the temple was built to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Japanese immigration to the Hawaiian Islands. 

Nestled beneath the Ko‘olau Range, the vermilion temple houses a 9-foot (2.7-m) tall Buddha lacquered with gold and sitting on a lotus.  The site also features a 3-ton (2.7-mton) brass bell that is said to bring peace and good luck to those who ring it. 

The park’s landscaping includes meditative gardens and a pond with golden koi (carp).  Bridges cross over the water, and peacocks roam the grounds.  The park also has a gift shop.

[Byodo-In / Valley of the Temples Memorial Park, 808-239-8811, 47-200 Kahekili Highway (Hwy. 83).  Directions: Located off Kahekili Highway (Hwy. 83), 1½ miles (2.4 km) north of Ha‘ikū Road.]

 

Kāne‘ohe

Kāne‘ohe is O‘ahu’s fourth largest city, and Kāne‘ohe Bayis the largest bay in the Hawaiian Islands, stretching from Kualoa Point 7 miles (11 km) south down to Mōkapu Peninsula.  Kāne‘ohe means “Bamboo husband,”[vi]a name said to originate when “...a woman compared her husband’s cruelty to the cutting edge of a bamboo knife.”[vii]

Offshore of Kane‘ohe Bay is Moku-o-Lo‘e, or Coconut Island, perhaps best known for being shown in the opening of the television series Gilligan’s Island.

In ancient times, Moku-o-Lo‘e was often visited by ali‘i (royalty), including Princess Pauahi [Bernice Pauahi Pākī Bishop] (18311884) (see Chapter 11, Timeline: 1831: Dec. 9), who planted many niu (Cocos nucifera, coconut palms).  This led to the island’s common name, Coconut Island. 

Today Coconut Island is home to the University of Hawai‘i’s Institute of Marine Biology. 

 

Kualoa Regional Parkencompasses 153 acres (62 ha) on Kualoa Point.  The beach is quite scenic as it is set beneath the cliff called Palikū (“Vertical cliff”[viii]). 

The 3-acre (1.2-ha) Apua Pond on Kualoa Point provides wetland habitat for endangered species such as the ae‘o (Himantopus mexicanus knudseni, Hawaiian black-necked stilt).  On the southwest side of Kualoa Point is Mōli‘i Fishpond. 

Offshore from Kualoa in Kāne‘ohe Bay is Mokoli‘i, also called Chinaman’s Hat.  Mokoli‘i means “Little mo‘o”[ix](“Little lizard”).  According to Hawaiian legend, “...the lizard Moko-li‘i was destroyed by the goddess Hi‘iaka; its tail became the islet, its body the flat area near the old sugar mill.”[x]

Another Hawaiian legend of Mokoli‘i was stated in an account written by Abraham Fornander (see Appendix 2): “a hero, Ka‘ulu, grabbed the teeth of Moko-li‘i, an evil supernatural who preyed on passers-by, and flew into the sky with him; Moko-li‘i fell down and broke into pieces.”[xi] The site’s Hawaiian name Papāle Pākē (Hawaiian for China Hat”) only came into use after many Chinese arrived in the Hawaiian Islands to work on sugar plantations.

Three of the five remaining ancient loko ‘ia (fishponds) on O‘ahu are found on Kāne‘ohe Bay.  The two other fishponds are located in Kahana Bay and near Pearl Harbor.  The largest of Kāne‘ohe Bay’s fishponds is at He‘eia State Park, where scenes from Karate Kid 2 were filmed.  The 88-acre (36-ha) He‘eia Fishpond is enclosed by a 5,000-foot (1,524-m) wall. 

Set atop Kealohi Point, He‘eia State Park provides great views of the He‘eia Fishpond as well as He‘eia-Kea Harbor.  According to legend, “...during a battle with people from Leeward O‘ahu, a tidal wave is said to have he‘e ‘ia (washed) the natives out to sea and back, after which they were victorious, thus fulfilling a prophecy.  In ancient times, souls were judged here and divided into two groups: the white, who went to He‘eia-kea, and the black, who went to He‘eia-uli.”[xii]

[He‘eia State Park, 808-247-3156, Kealohi Point, Kāne‘ohe Bay, open 7:30-6:30 daily.]

 

Ho‘omaluhia Botanical Garden

Ho‘omaluhia is O‘ahu’s largest botanical garden, encompassing more than 400 acres (162 ha) above Kāne‘ohe.  The park’s many rare and endangered tropical plants are grouped by area of origin.  A 32-acre (13-ha) reservoir is accessible by the park’s hiking trails.

A visitor center at Ho‘omaluhia Botanical Garden includes exhibits about native plants and animals of the Hawaiian Islands as well as the park’s history—it was built by the United States Army Corp of Engineers to protect the region below against floods.  Ho‘omaluhia means “To cause or give peace, protect; to arbitrate between warring parties.”[xiii]

[Ho‘omaluhia Botanical Garden, 808-233-7323, 45-680 Luluku Road, Kāne‘ohe.  Directions: Take Kamehameha Highway (Hwy. 83) to Luluku Road 2¼ miles (3.6 km) north of Pali Highway intersection.  Take Luluku Road 1½ miles (2.4 km) to the park entrance, open 9-4 daily; guided hikes Sat. at 10, Sun. at 1.]

 

Ulupō Heiau / Kawainui Marsh

The stones of Ulopō Heiau extend for a length of about 180 feet (55 m) and are up to 30 feet (9 m) high.  Ulopō, which means “Night Inspiration,”[xiv]is thought to have been a luakini heiau, where human sacrifices were performed.

Visible from the trail near the top of Ulopō Heiau is the Kawainui Marsh.  A fishpond in ancient times, Kawainui was planted with rice during the 1900s. 

Today Kawainui is once again a wetland area providing valuable native habitat for endangered waterbirds of the Hawaiian Islands, including the ae‘o (Himantopus mexicanus knudseni, Hawaiian black-necked stilt); ‘alae ke‘oke (Fulica americana alai, Hawaiian coot); koloa maoli (Anas wyvilliana, Hawaiian duck); and ‘alae ‘ula (Gallinula chloropus sandvicensis, Hawaiian moorhen).

Kawainui means “The big water,” and was once O‘ahu’s largest inland pond.

[Ulupō Heiau, 1 mile (1.6 km) south of Kailua Road.  Directions: From Honolulu, drive up Pali Highway to Uloa Street (the first left after Highway 72 junction); then turn right on Manu Aloha Street, then right on Manuoo Street.  Ulupō Heiau is behind the YMCA.]

 

Kailua / Kailua Bay

In ancient times, Kailua was home to ali‘i (royalty) and chiefs, and several heiau (sacred places of worship) were located in this region.  Today Kailua is a small town of about 36,000, though it is still the largest town on O‘ahu’s windward side.  Kailua is lined with great beaches, including Kailua Beach Park at the southeast side of Kailua Bay.

O‘ahu’s main windsurfing spot, Kailua Bay is also popular among various other water sports enthusiasts as well as sunbathers and beach walkers.  Kailuameans “Two seas”[xv]

 



[i]Pukui, Mary Kawena, Elbert, Samuel H., and Mookini, Esther T. Mookini.  Place Names of Hawaii: Revised & Expanded Edition.  Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1974.

[ii]  Pukui, Mary Kawena, Elbert, Samuel H., and Mookini, Esther T. Mookini.  Place Names of Hawaii: Revised & Expanded Edition.  Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1974.

[iii]Pukui, Mary Kawena, Elbert, Samuel H., and Mookini, Esther T. Mookini.  Place Names of Hawaii: Revised & Expanded Edition.  Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1974.

[iv]p. 53, Pukui, Mary Kawena, Elbert, Samuel H., and Mookini, Esther T. Mookini.  Place Names of Hawaii: Revised & Expanded Edition.  Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1974.

[v]Pukui, Mary Kawena, Elbert, Samuel H., and Mookini, Esther T. Mookini.  Place Names of Hawaii: Revised & Expanded Edition.  Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1974.

[vi]p. 85, Pukui, Mary Kawena, Elbert, Samuel H., and Mookini, Esther T. Mookini.  Place Names of Hawaii: Revised & Expanded Edition.  Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1974.

[vii]p. 85, Pukui, Mary Kawena, Elbert, Samuel H., and Mookini, Esther T. Mookini.  Place Names of Hawaii: Revised & Expanded Edition.  Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1974.

[viii]Pukui, Mary Kawena, Elbert, Samuel H., and Mookini, Esther T. Mookini.  Place Names of Hawaii: Revised & Expanded Edition.  Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1974.

[ix]p. 54, Pukui, Mary Kawena, Elbert, Samuel H., and Mookini, Esther T. Mookini.  Place Names of Hawaii: Revised & Expanded Edition.  Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1974.

[x]p. 54, Pukui, Mary Kawena, Elbert, Samuel H., and Mookini, Esther T. Mookini.  Place Names of Hawaii: Revised & Expanded Edition.  Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1974.

[xi]p. 54, Pukui, Mary Kawena, Elbert, Samuel H., and Mookini, Esther T. Mookini.  Place Names of Hawaii: Revised & Expanded Edition.  Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1974.

[xii]pp. 43-44, Pukui, Mary Kawena, Elbert, Samuel H., and Mookini, Esther T. Mookini.  Place Names of Hawaii: Revised & Expanded Edition.  Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1974.

[xiii]Pukui, Mary Kawena, and Elbert, Samuel H.  Hawaiian Dictionary: Revised and Enlarged Edition.  Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1986.

[xiv]Pukui, Mary Kawena, and Elbert, Samuel H.  Hawaiian Dictionary: Revised and Enlarged Edition.  Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1986.

[xv]Pukui, Mary Kawena, and Elbert, Samuel H.  Hawaiian Dictionary: Revised and Enlarged Edition.  Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1986.