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Kawaihae

Trip Planner USA  /  Hawaii  /  Island of Hawaii  /  Kawaihae
(4.1/5 based on 1,400+ reviews for 7 attractions)
Things to do: adventure, nature, historic sites
Kawaihae is an unincorporated community on the west side of the island of Hawaii in the U.S. state of Hawaii, 35mi north of Kailua-Kona. Its harbor includes a fuel depot, shipping terminal and military landing site. Outside of the man-made breakwall of the harbor is a popular surf spot and the Pua Kailima o Kawaihae Cultural Surf Park. The small town features a handful of restaurants and art galleries. To the north of the harbor is the Kawaihae Canoe Club and a small boat ramp. To the south is Puukoholā Heiau national historic site, built by King Kamehameha I in 1791. Also to the south is the smaller Mailekini Heiau and the Hale o Kapuni Heiau (shark heiau), which is submerged.Kawaihae served as the seat of kingdom of Hawaii island during the reign of the usurper king Alapainuiakauaua, whose family, the Mahi's, hailed from the Kohala district; he was the king that sought to kill the infant Kamehameha at his birth. His successor Kalaniʻōpuʻu, who overthrew Alapai's son Keaweopala, moved the capital back to the Kona district where his family originated. In the late 1700s, Kawaihae's naturally sheltered bay was considered one of the more suitable commercial harbor for western ships on the Big Island. Its harbor and proximity to the fertile uplands of Waimea ensured its status as an important stopover for many early European voyagers and merchantmen needing to make repairs and resupply their ships during the early period of the Kingdom of Hawaii. Kawaihae or "Too-yah-yah" was first sighted by James King, serving under Captain Cook, on February 6, 1779, after departing from Cook's initial visit to Kealakekua Bay. Failure to find anchorage prompted them to return to Kealakekua Bay, where Cook met his demise. King returned a few months later after Cook's death, but was not impressed with the area he deemed "little cultivated" or the people, whom he called "of the lowest class that inhabited ".
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