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Maniniholo Dry Cave, Haena Beach Park

Maniniholo Dry Cave

Maniniholo Dry Cave and Haena Beach Park is a popular attraction for those visiting the North Shore of Kauai. This ancient site is located across from Ha’ena Beach Park, on highway 560.



Maniniholo Dry Cave is said to have formed naturally thousands of years ago.  The sea level was higher and the ocean once used to hit the base of the cliff. As a result, erosion from the waves formed the cave.  The sand was brought into Maniniholo Dry Cave during the 1957 tsunami. In addition, stones have been piled in the front of the cave by locals as well as native Hawaiians.  

Exploration

About 300 yards deep, with plenty of standing room, the cave is great for exploration.  The floor is covered by sand as well as large stones.  Furthermore, keiki love to explore the cave and run around.  Consequently, a flashlight is needed to go deeper into the cave. We used the one on our cell phone.


Hawaiian Culture and History

Maniniholo Cave and the surrounding Haena area has its importance in Hawaiian culture and history.  In Hawaiian legends, it is told that this dry cave was once used by menehune to escape danger. For that reason, the cave was used as a passage route to get from one side of the island to the other.

 Another Hawaiian legend says that this cave was named after Maniniholo, the head fisherman of the Menehune.  Maniniholo used it to catch many fish here at Ha’ena. On one account, after catching many fish, he left some of the catch under the cliff. The menehune then carried the rest of the fish to the island’s interior to other menehune.  However, when they returned to gather the rest of the fish, they saw an akua (supernatural beast/ spirit) who took the fish that they had left there.  In order to catch the supernatural beast, they decided to dig a cave and make a trap.  This cave is the remnants of the menehune work.  Other legends say that the menehune dug the cave looking for imps that stole their fish.


Parking and Information

Ke’e Beach, Hae’na and the North Shore was impacted by a severe flood in April 2018. As a result, the road to Ke’e Beach and the surrounding area (right past Hanalei) was restricted due to repairs and maintenance. Since then, a shuttle service has been established to help transport visitors to many popular destinations past Hanalei.  This will help preserve the beautiful landscape and limit traffic flow to the recovering areas impacted by the flood. In order to visit this area, you must book tickets for the shuttle in advance as most shuttles are booked two weeks out in advance.  Here is the link to the website.

https://www.hanaleiinitiative.org/the-shuttle

Shuttle services are provided at various locations where you can park and take the shuttle to your destination.

Make sure to make it back for the last shuttle that leaves at 5:00 pm.  

Another option to get to attractions, sites and beaches past Hanalei is to purchase a pass for entry and parking. Facilities with limited parking spaces and monitored entry, require parking permits that need to be purchased a week in advance as there are only a set number of dedicated parking stalls for visitors.  It is advised that visitors plan ahead if wanting to take a day trip to Ke’e Beach or hike the Hanakapiai or Kalalau Trail. You can get a permit two weeks in advance before heading to the area.

https://www.gohaena.com/

Haena Beach

During the winter months, the surf can be very high and beachgoers should heed caution. Inevitably, the beach will be closed by lifeguards when conditions are too rough.


The Maniniholo Dry cave is a great place to take a break from a long drive. As a result our boys get a chance to stretch their legs and run around.  They also get to explore one of Kauai’s natural wonders. After visiting the cave, they came up with so many stories.  This is where the Batman and Spiderman lives.  They also claimed to see blood on the rocks.  Whether adult or keiki, your imagination runs wild as you enter the cave.  Will the space cave in?  How was this cave formed?  What was the cave used for?  What’s in the darkness?  Are the Legends of the Evil Spirit true?  Maniniholo Dry Cave and Haena Beach Park is great for exploration and play with your keiki.




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PLAYGROUNDS

BEST BEACHES FOR KEIKI

THINGS TO DO
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Kilauea Point Lighhouse and National Wildlife Refuge

At the Kīlauea Point National Wildlife Refuge you will encounter unprecedented sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean.  The contrast of colors in this landscape is amazing with the deep greens and browns of the cliffside, to the blacks of the rocks, to the vibrant bright blues of the ocean.

LEARN & DISCOVER

There are many things to take notice of and engage the keiki in.

1. BIRDWATCHING

Seabirds are everywhere, hugging the cliffs, hovering above you, hiding from you, and even walking amongst you. Observation scopes are located throughout the pathways and binoculars are available for the keiki to use. Just sign them out and return when you are done.

Observation scopes
Hovering Seabirds

2. WHALES, DOLPHINS, NENE, & MONK SEALS

Besides the opportunity see seabirds in their natural habitat, there are also opportunities to see other wildlife such as whales and dolphins, endangered Nene, and Hawaiian monk seals. On this particular day, the Nene were approaching nesting season. Therefore, we were able to observe mating behaviors such as them “talking” to each other and acting territorial. We have also seen whales during whale watching season which runs from November-May. Dolphins can also be spotted from the lookout areas and are usually most visible during the summer months.

3. NATIVE PLANTS

Along the property there are informational picture boards which provide a visual inventory of what to look for. Walking up the pathway to the lighthouse, take notice of the abundance of native plants. Try to have the keiki match the picture and the description with the plants around you. The easiest one to identify is the native Napaka shrub. It has waxy green leaves with white flowers that have five petals and looks like a half-flower. Your keiki can reach these along the path and feel the surface of the leaves for the texture.

There is a Hawaiian legend that goes with this half – flower that you can tell your keiki. One version is about a royal princess who fell in love with a commoner from the mountains. Together the princess and the commoner traveled up the mountain in distress. The kupuna told them that there is nothing that he could do so that they could be together.  So as a token or rememberance of her love, the princess took the flower from her ear and tore it in half telling the commoner that he must go by the water and live.

Since then, the Naupaka flower only bloomed in half-flowers where one-half can be found near the sea and it’s counter-part found in the mountains.  Some say that if you find one of each flower and put them together, you reunite their love and it can bring you good luck. The Naupaka plant can easily root near sand and rocks and is found along most of the beaches on Kauai as it prevents erosion.  

4. Kilauea Point Lighthouse

The historic Daniel Inouye Lighthouse is another highlight. Tours are offered on certain days and times of the week, so if you are interested in actually going up into the lighthouse, plan ahead. Children need to be 44 inches tall for this activity.




Admission

Admission for children 15 and under are free and adults are $5 per person so this is a great bargain.  If you are a L.O.C.A.L. (Kamaaina) you can purchase a yearly pass for $20 that allows entry for 4 people.  Only cash and traveler’s check are accepted as forms of payments, so make sure you bring some cash.  The Refuge is closed on Sunday and Monday and open Tuesday – Saturday, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm so plan accordingly.


Bookstore

On the way out, there is a great bookstore that offers books and gifts or information to reinforce anything that your keiki may have been interested in


Nesting Shearwater

Getting There

Heading north on Kuhio Hwy. from Lihue pass through the towns of Kapaa and Anahola.  The next town is Kilauea (look for the gas station on the right) and turn right onto Kolo Road.  Pass the gas station and make the first left onto Kilauea Road.  The refuge is at the end of this scenic road, about 2 miles in.

I had this old photo from 2008, when my family visited!


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