Maunalua was traditionally an ʻili kūpono of Waimānalo in the Koʻolaupoko district on the island of Oʻahu. This included the valleys of Hahaʻione, Kamilonui, Kamiloiki, and Kalama. In 1925, the territory of Hawaiʻi declared Maunalua to become a part of Honolulu in the Kona district on Oʻahu.

Keahupua O Maunalua

Maunalua was notable for its loko kuapā, Keahupua o Maunalua which once spanned 523 acres and was the largest loko kuapā in Hawaiʻi. It was a functional, productive fishpond up until 1959, when it was destroyed in order to create a boating marina. In the 1970s, Henry J. Kaiser, with permission from the Bishop Estate, began extensive commercial and residential development in Maunalua to create a suburb where people from the US could come and take up residence. He renamed the area Hawaiʻi Kai- meant to be a "subtle" reference to Kaiser himself. These events forever changed the landscape of Maunalua and its remarkable loko kuapā.


Maunalua was most likely named after the two most prominent mountains in the area, Koheleplepe (Koko Crater) and Kuamoʻo o Kāneʻapua (Koko Head).

Wahi a ka moʻolelo, the kupua Kamapua‘a attacked Pele in Puna, Hawai‘i. Pele called out to her sister, Kapoʻulakīnaʻu for help. So Kapo did the only thing she could think of at the moment, powerful enough to distract Kamapuaʻa. She lifted her pāʻū, removed her genitals, and threw it past his face, enticing him away from Pele. Kapo's strength was so great that her genitals continued flying onwards, all the way to the southern end of Oʻahu, where it landed in Maunalua.

By the time Kamapuaʻa arrived in Maunalua, Kapo's genitals had already returned to the goddess and all that was left was the impression it had made on the hillside.

Kohelepelepe (left) and Kuamoʻo o Kāneʻapua (right),. (HSA)

Kawaihoa + Kuamoʻo o Kāneʻaupa

Kuamoʻo o Kāneʻapua is the ridge that forms the eastern rim of Maunalua bay, with the southernmost point on this rim known as Kawaihoa (Portlock). Maunalua bay spans from Kawaihoa in the east to Kūpikipiki‘ō (Black Point) towards the west, with the Kui channel passing through the reef, fronting Kawaihoa.

Wahi a ka moʻolelo, Maunalua was one of the places that the gods Kāne, Kanaloa, and their younger brother, Kāneʻapua visited as they travelled the islands, creating sources of water. Kanaloa was often thirsty, so they stopped at Kawaihoa (water of the companions) to drink some ʻawa. Kāne told Kāneʻapua of a special spring on Koheleplepe and told him to climb up there and fetch the water, then to come straight back- no stopping.

Photo: Maunalua looking towards Kohelepelepe from Kuamoʻo o Kāneʻapua; Keahupua o Maunalua in the background. 1914. Hawaiʻi State Archives.

So Kāneʻapua went, and he fetched the water from the spring, but he was very tired and decided to sit down and rest. Just as he sat down, a gust of wind came and blew dust into the water. Kāneʻapua sat there for quite some time worrying about it instead of quickly returning to his brothers.

Back at Kawaihoa, Kanaloa was getting very impatient. He couldn't wait any longer for Kāneʻapua to return with the water, so he told Kāne to thrust his cane into the ground so he could get some water. And so Kāne poked a hole and out flowed the water. Kāne and Kanaloa prepared and drank their ʻawa, but their younger brother still hadn't returned, so they decided to continue on their journey without him.

Kāneʻapua, who was still sitting and worrying about the dusty water, finally got up and started his return back to Kawaihoa. As he got closer, he saw his brothers leaving- they couldn't wait for him any longer. Devastated, Kāneʻapua threw himself on the ground and his body formed the ridge, Kuamoʻo o Kāneʻapua or Kuamoʻokāne.

Today, Kawaihoa is known for its upscale neighborhood and multi-million dollar luxury homes. 


Just on the other side of Kawaihoa and Kuamoʻo o Kāneʻapua lies the two small craters, ʻIhiʻihilauākea and Nonoʻula. These rim the southern end of beautiful Hanauma Bay. The ocean at Maunalua was well-known for the abundance of fish. Hanauma specifically was once a fishing and relaxation area for the aliʻi.


As we continue east towards Makapuʻu, we head down the Kaiwi coastline, named after the channel that separates Molokaʻi and Oʻahu. It's said that the corpses of fishermen and sailors who drowned in the Kaiwi channel were swept ashore here by the currents. Found along this coastline is Awāwamalu (Sandy's), a very popular place for bodysurfing/boarding.

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Aliʻi: chief, chiefess
'Awa: a narcotic drink made from the Kava root, used in ceremonies and also medicinally
Awāwamalu: shady valley/gulch
ʻIli kūpono: a nearly independent division of land within an ahupuaa, tributary directly to the king and not, or only slightly, to the chief of the ahupuaa
Hanauma: curved bay
Kaiwi: the bone
Kawaihoa: companion's water
Keahupua o Maunalua: the shrine of the baby mullet of Maunalua
Kohelepelepe: vagina labia minor
Kuamoʻo o Kāneʻapua: the backbone of Kāneʻapua
Kui: to string pierced objects, as flowers in a lei, or fish; needle, pin, spike, any pointed instrument of wood or metal
Kupua: demigod
Loko kuapā: fishpond that was entirely enclosed, typically belonged to royalty, consisted of many acres, considered a symbol of high social and economic status; symbolized a rich ahupuaʻa
Maunalua: two mountains
Pāʻū: woman's skirt, sarong

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Hawaiian Mythology by Martha Beckwith

Ke Kula Wela La o Pahua: The Cultural and Historical Significance of Pahua Heiau, Maunalua, Oʻahu by Holly Coleman

Nā Puke Wehewehe ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi by Mary Kawena Pukui and Samuel H. Elbert

'Olelo No'eau: Hawaiian proverbs & poetical sayings by Mary Kawena Pukui

Sites of Oʻahu by Elspeth P. Sterling