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A Place of Powerful History

In the late 1700s, King Kamehameha of the island of Hawaii (the Big Island) began a mission to unify all of Hawaii’s islands under one kingdom. With an armada of canoes and then thousand warriors, he overtook Maui and then Oahu. But while crossing the channel between Oahu and Kauai, Kamehameha’s army encountered stormy seas. Many canoes sank and the small group which eventually made it across landed at Mahaulepu. Exhausted by their brutal journey and heavily out numbered, Kamehameha’s remaining men were slaughtered by Kauai’s awaiting warriors; just a handful managed to escape, back to sea in their canoes.

Kauai remained the only kingdom in the Hawaii never to be conquered by King Kamehameha. The island’s unconquered spirit lives on today in the efforts to preserve its wild, culturally significant spaces, like Mahaulepu.

Eons of South Shore events and evolution is recorded in the landscape of Mahaulepu. An interpretive and research center near the Makauwahi Cave offers educational exhibits, materials, lectures and classes about the area’s natural and cultural treasures. Interpretive walks and volunteer stewardship opportunities start at the center. Trail maps and resource guides are available here.