Malama Maha`ulepu
Preserve Kauai's Wilderness Heritage
Natural Features - A Summary Of The Significant Resources Of Maha`ulepu

Natural Resources include:

Geological Features
  • Stratified lava rock of 5 million year old Waimea Canyon Basalt, the oldest volcanic rock of the eight main islands, found in Mt. Ha`upu
  • Lava formations of the Koloa Volcanics, 2 million to 500,000 years old
  • Cliffs of ancient lithified sand dunes formed during the Ice Age, 350,000 years ago
  • Makauwahi sinkhole, largest in Hawai`i, where paleoecological excavations reveal flora and fauna over the past 6,500 years, including over 40 bird species, nearly half of them extinct, and evidence of coastal plants now thought to only live in upland areas
  • Sand dunes, including some a mile inland, created by wind in the past 2,000 years
  • Wetland remnant areas


  • Coastal colonies of ground crawling native species
  • Three rare plants:
  • Pua pilo
  • A coastal Lepidium
  • Nama



  • Kaua`i blind cave amphipod (Federal List of Endangered Species)
  • Kaua`i blind cave spider (Federal List of Endangered Species) probable
  • 14 extinct species of land snails



  • Nene, the State bird (Federal List of Endangered Species)
  • Koloa Duck
  • Hawaiian moorhen
  • Hawaiian stilt
  • Hawaiian coot
  • Newell's shearwater, a threatened species
  • Nesting wedge-tailed shearwaters and white-tailed tropic birds


Shore and Marine Life

  • Shore birds, including the sanderling and wandering tattler
  • The Hawaiian monk seal
  • Green sea turtle (Federal List of Endangered Species)
  • Humpback whales and dolphins
  • An intact reef system of Porites compressa coral


Scenic Features

  • Beaches, bays, headlands, limestone cliffs and caves
  • Panoramic vistas up to Mt. Ha`upu from the coast and the valley
  • Views from the valley walls and ridges back across the Koloa plain with its distinctive volcanic craters to Mt. Waialeale


Cultural Resources include:

Cultural Sites

  • Petroglyphs, Waiopili Heiau, and other excavated sites
  • Dune and cave burials
  • Kapunakea Spring and Waiopili Pond
  • Archaeological and historic records of fisherman shelters, coastal and and valley settlement
  • Place of Captain Cook's first contact with Native Hawaiians
  • 40 Native Hawaiian land claims at the time of the Great Mahele
  • Continued fishing and gathering practices

The Sugar Landscape

  • Chinese grow and mill cane around 1835
  • Koloa Sugar Company, established in 1841, growing sugar in 1878, pumping water from 1897
  • History of irrigation water improvements
  • Story of changing land control/ ownership: the Native Hawaiian chiefly class (ali`i) to Native Hawaiian Hui, to the Koloa Sugar Company
  • Remains of the sugar industry: mill at Pa`a, irrigation ditches, roads, water pumps still in agricultural use

Recreational Resources

  • Beachcombing, sunbathing and picnicking, especially at Maha`ulepu Beach, Kawailoa Bay and Haula Bay
  • Hiking and horseback riding
  • Many kinds of fishing, including pole, throw net and spear fishing
  • Limu and opihi gathering
  • Body boarding, surfing, body surfing, windsurfing, kayaking, scuba diving
  • Painting and photography

Threats to the Resources

  • Increasing adjacent urbanization which requires buffering of all resources
  • Proposed resort development within the entire natural and cultural landscape
  • Filling or draining of wetlands
  • Non identification and neglect of archaeological resources
  • Impacts of past and future quarry operations
  • Increased public use without resource education and management
  • Invasive plants such as the long-spined kiawe
How To Help
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Malama Events - Participate!

Join us at Maha`ulepu for stewardship, bio survey and education events.