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Na Pali Coast

Beyond Ha‘ena, the Na Pali Coast, with its cliffs plunging into the sea, has many beaches and sea caves. Photo by Joseph Mansy, courtesy of Kathleen Ann Goonan.


"Come and Eat"

Caves are prominent features in the Ha‘ena landscape. Carlos relates the following story, set in one of the many caves along the Napali coast, near Ha‘ena. In this story, Pele is passing through the area near one of these caves:

"This story takes place in a cave along the Na Pali coast. There are caves still like this today--lots of them--cut out of the cliffs by the sea. In this story, there is a large cave and a lot of people living in it. At the time, these people had just brought in a large catch of fish, and are cooking them. Pele is wandering down the coast and seeing them, goes in to the cave and asks them for some fish to eat.

"But they deny her the fish. As she's walking away from them, on the outskirts of the cave itself there's an old man and he's cooking fish for himself and his grandchild. And as Pele walks by, he calls her to come and eat with them. His invitation is the most pono Hawaiian behavior: whenever your see someone pass by, you call to them to come and eat, and even if they don't respond or say 'no, no thanks,' it is your obligation as a host in Hawaiian culture to invite a stranger to come and eat with you."


"And so he calls her to eat, and they share the little fish that he has with her. Then before she leaves, Pele tells him not to stay in the cave that night--to go somewhere else. And later that night, all the people are all satisfied, fat and sleepy from their big meal, the cave collapses and kills them, all of them."



Wai-a-Kanaloa cave, in the face of the pali, has the pool Hala-Aniani inside.


Among the famous landmarks of Ha‘ena are three caves. There are various stories associated with these. Here are some recounted by Frederick Wichman:

"Kanaloa was one of the four major Hawaiian gods, the brother of Kane. The two were noted for digging sources of drinking water as they toured the various islands. The upper wet cave was dug by him and it is called Wai-a-Kanaloa, 'water made by Kanaloa.' Other legends say it was Pele who struck the cliff here with her staff Paoa when she was searching for a home, but was met by water instead.

"Hala-aniani, 'clear pandanus,' the lake of fresh water within the cave, was set aside for the ali'i; commoners could not bathe in it. The waters were thought to be able to restore an ailing person back to health. The chiefs either drank from a calabash filled with the water, or--better--swam in the underground lake.

"Pa-ka-moi, 'enclosure of the threadfish,' a boulder near the base of the upper wet cave, is also connected to the story of Pele and Lohi'au. When Hi'iaka and her companion Wahine‘öma‘o reached Hä‘ena, they asked Pakamoi, a fisherman, to find them a place to sleep for the night. He mistook the tenor of their request and after watching them loosen their clothes in preparation for sleeping, he attempted to fulfill his desires on Hi‘iaka. Hi‘iaka was saved by Pa‘u-o-Pala‘e, a friend and servant, who changed places with her. Pakamoi was turned into a stone where he lay."




Wai-a-ka-Pala‘e Cave, near Ha‘ena Beach Park.


"The lower wet cave is Wai-a-ka-Pala‘e, 'water of the lace fern.' In olden times, the water in this cave had a brownish cast, which was said to be the hair of a beautiful mo'o maiden who could usually be seen sitting near the entrance of the cave combing her hair. A chief from Wainiha fell in love with her and the two disappeared for several months. Then the mermaid reappeared with a baby at her breast. When asked where the chief was, she drew a finger across her neck to indicate he was dead. In revenge, his friends tried to kill the mo'o, but she dove into the water and escaped. Her long hair spread out in the water, giving the pool its colored cast. As she grew older the brown tint turned to gray. For this reason, the cave was known either as Wai-a-kapa-lae, 'water of terror,' or as Wai-a-kapa-la‘e, 'water of shiny tapa'."



Maniniholo Cave

Maniniholo Cave, on the road across from Ha‘ena Beach Park.

"Kaiwiku‘i Ridge contains a large cave, Manini-holo, "traveling reef surgeonfish." Maniniholo was the head fisherman at the time the Menehune were leaving the island to return home. He brought his workers to gather food from the reefs and bay at Ha‘ena, but there was so much that they left some behind. During the night, all this food disappeared. Maniniholo saw little ‘e‘epa (imps) in fissures in the pali and realized that they were the thieves. He and his workers dug into the stone and killed the ‘e‘epa. The cave was named after the head fisherman. The Menehune gathered in the mountains and crossed Napali, eventually coming to the plain in front of Maniniholo. There they boarded their canoes that were waiting for them in Makua Bay. They sailed away and never returned."



Another story about Manini-holo cave is told by Mary Kawena Pukui:

Piliwale ka i‘a o Piliwale.
The fish of Piliwale press together.
Said of one who attaches himself to another. Piliwale was a fishpond at Moloka‘i. When fresh sea water came in at the sluice gate the fish pressed together there. Once, a chief on Kaua‘i fled from the battlefield, followed by his pursuers. He found refuge in Maniniholo cave, but his pursuers discovered his place of concealment and entered. He fled, and, seeing a large rock, pressed himself against it with the hope that he would escape detection. But he was seen and killed. The rock against which he pressed himself was called Piliwale.
‘Olelo No‘eau #2656.



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