We went for a visit to Keauhou Bay and spent the day kicking back at the park and we went for a kayak trip around the bay. Keauhou Bay has a small sandy beach and swimming area and is in a protected cove so the waves are none to mild. There is a small harbor here and two boat launches. There is a long dock and a place to get food and drinks. It is right next to the Sheraton for fine dining and entertainment. There is a Kayak Tour and rental business at this beach. Call Devin at (808) 494-4144 to schedule a guided tour or rent a kayak for as little as $25.00!
When we were spending time at the park area we read the historical signs and thought it would be interesting for others to read so I typed up the information that were on three signs on site. I hope you enjoy reading this interesting history lesson on Keauhou Bay.
“In the time of the ruler ‘Umi-a-Liloa’, 22 generations before the time of King Kamehameha I, the Royal Center moved away from Waipi’o in the island’s northern region. As a result of this move, Royal Centers developed along Kona’s leeward coast. By 1600s through the early 1800s, seven Royal Centers were well established in Kona including one located at Kahalu’u and one here at Keauhou.
A Royal Center typically contained residences for the ruling chief and those of the high chiefs, and a complex of sacred areas and significant heiau (stone temples). Other structures often included house sites for family and kahuna (priests), and areas for daily life activities. An abundance of natural resources, recreation opportunities and canoe landings were essential features.
Ocean access at Keauhou Bay is superb and, just as boats use it today, canoe landings once dotted the shore. In the early 1800s, King Kamehameha I and his royal family occasionally resided on the northern shore of Keauhou Bay, on the land between Pueo and Ha’ikaua Coves. Pueo Cove served as the royal canoe landing.
The canoe was a principal means of travel in ancient Hawai’i. Paddlers of a chief’s canoe were highly trained, giving him the freedom of ocean mobility regardless of wind conditions.
Before motorized transportation, canoes provided people with easy access for short coastal trips between villages. Travel by canoe was much faster than on foot, and the canoe could be used for fishing or to carry goods. Hawaiian canoes were also used to cross open-ocean channels for long distance travel between islands.
The Kamehameha Dynasty
As a young man, Kamehameha was a proven warrior and political strategist who rose to power with the support of the chiefs of Kona and unified the island of Hawai’I under his leadership in the late 1700s. He embraced the powerful weaponry of canoes and guns introduced by foreighers and led his well-armed troops in fierce battles across the islands of Maui and O’ahu. After lengthly and debilitating civil wars, Kamehameha emerged as the victorious conqueror. By 1810, he became King Kamehameha I, Hawai’is sole sovereign, when Kaua’I and Ni’ihau ceded to his rule.
During his reign, King Kamehameha I governed his kingdom, enacted laws, urged restorative agricultural endeavors and shrewdly increased foreign trade. The center of the Kindom of Hawai’I shifted back to Kona when King Kamehameha I returned about 1812.
Five monarchs ruled the kingdom of Hawai’I under the Kamehameha name. The first three had close ties to these lands of Keauhou: Kamehameha I and his two sons who succeeded him as Kamehameha II and Kamehameha III.
The head of Keauhou Bay was sacred to the Kamehameha family. King Kamehameha I and his royal family took up residency from time to time on the north side of Keauhou Bay between Pueo and Ha’ikaua Coves.
Keopuolani, the highest ranking wife of Kamehameha I, traveled a distance of about 50 miles from Kohala to Keauhou by canoe to give birth to her second son, Kauikeaouli (Kamehameha III). This pathway passes along a reclaimed portion of Ho’okuku Spring as it leads to his birth place to the left.
Keopuolani’s eldest son, Liholiho (Kamehameha II), built a stone temple, Kamohoali’I Heiau, which once stood above this cliff with hala and ulu trees planted nearby.
Other heiau that once stood here included nearby Kaleiopapa and Kanikanika’ula towards the point on the south side of Keauhou Bay.
The cliff above is named Ahu’ula, literally royal cloak, for it was here at the south end of the cliff where the feather cloaks were aired in the sun. Rising on the cliffs face is a layer of ‘alaea, the red earth used for coloring salt, medicine, dye and in perfection ceremonies.
Notable Area Residents
Lonoikamakahiki, a ruling chief and descendant of Pili, Liloa and Umi, unified the entire island under his control. He had residences within Kahalu’u and here near Pueo Cove at Keauhou.
Chief Kanehoa, son of the noted Chief Hoapili who was a close companion of Kamehameha I, lived at Keauhou Bay. His concrete tomb is located along the north side of the bay.
Native Hawaiian antiquarian David Malo was born on the northern side of Keauhou Bay about 1793. Associated with the chiefs of Kamehameha, Malo recounted the Kingdom of Hawai’is history, traditions, hula and genealogies. Malo moved to Maui in 1832 where he converted to Christianity and was ordained a minister.
Around Ha’ikaua Point to the north, is He’eia Bay. In the days of old, the monumental Kaneaka holua slide, a stone ramp nearly on mile long, culminated in He’eia Bay. Brake competitors rode their narrow sleds from the top of the holua to the shore line.
When the waves were large, crowds would gather on a stone platform at He’eia Bay to watch as holua competitors raced against surfers to a shoreline finish.
Roughly-shaped canoe hulls were also transported along the holua from the up slope forest to the sea for finishing. A portion of the holua is still visible across from the entrance into the golf clubhouse.
Kauikeaouli and Nahi’ena’ena
An inscribed stone tablet commemorates the nearby birth site of Kauikeaouli who went on to rule Hawai’i as Kamehameha III. His sister, Princess Nahi’ena’ena, was also born in Keauhou about 1815.
From childhood; Nahi’ena’ena was expected to marry her brother in accordance with ancient Hawaiian cultural traditions of sacred marriage and bloodlines. Their mother, Keopuolani, baptized on her deathbed, put forth her last wish for her children to be raised in the Christian faith. Nahi’ena’ena was tormented by the clash of the two cultures. She died very young, shortly after the death of her infant in 1836.
Mo’ikeha Cave is located to the left. Legend has it that a king once hid from his pursuing enemies by standing erect and hiding his legs in a high pocket of the cave, making him invisible to his pursuers.
Ahupua’a, Hawaiian Land Management
Moku (island districts) were partitioned into smaller, generally wedge-shaped land divisions called ahupua’a. Most ahuoua’a extended from the mountain into the sea and contained all the resources needed for sustainable living. Natural resources were essential and everyone shared resources and cared for the land. Upland field systems, where water was more accessible, were cultivated for crops. Coastal land activities focused on ocean resources. Villages were often located near sheltered beaches where access to good fishing grounds provided abundant food.
The boundary between the ahupua’a of Keauhou I and II lies in the middle of Keauhou Bay. Keauhou I includes the lands on the northern shore and continues along the coast to Paniau Point. Keauhou II comprises the southern shore and continues toward Lekeleke Burial Grounds and Kuamo’o Bay.
To the north, around Ha’ikaua Point, is He’eia Bay, noted for surfing and formerly the end of the monumental Kaneaka holua slide.
Ancient fishing legends have been passed down in seafaring cultures over the generations. In Hawai’i, the chief god of fishermen was Ku’ula. This term applies to any stone god or shrine used to attract fish. In 1953, cultural historian and mapmaker Henry Kekahuna documented several ku’ula along this coastline, including Kumaha’ula Ku’ula, Kapehe Ku’ula (dedicated to the propagation of red fish), Ko’ele Ku’ula (dedicated to the propagation of shellfish/’opihi), and Pahe’ehe’e Ku’ula (shrine for general fishing).
The Kekahuna Legacy
Cultural historian Henry E.P. Kekahuna was born on Maui in 1881 when many ancient Hawaiian traditions were still in practice. He listened and learned the stories of old. He explored and mapped many areas throughout Hawai’i in the 1950s. His illustrated maps and detailed notes have fostered greater understanding of the archaeological and cultural importance of these lands. The Kekahuma maps also chronicle Hawai’i’s traditional place names.
Please respect the boundary of private properties and do not enter.”
I hope you enjoyed our history lesson about Keauhou Bay. We explore beaches and towns every week here on the Big Island. If you would like to stay updated, Like Us on Facebook or Follow our Twitter Feed!
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