Maha'ulepu Beach, Kauai

Maha'ulepu is a gorgeous and idyllic stretch of golden sand beach north of Poipu. The place is separated into three different parts: Gillin's Beach, Kawailoa Bay, and Haula Beach. Gillin's is named after the late Elbert Gillin who built a house on this beach, which is now a vacation rental. Gillin was a Koloa Sugar Plantation civil engineer in the mid 1900s. Destroyed in 1992 by hurricane Iniki, the “Gillin House” was re-built shortly after and continues to be owned by the Gillin family heirs.

Kawailoa Kawailoa 2

Kawailoa Bay.

Maha'ulepu is a two mile car trip from the end of Poipu Road. Travel east on the dirt cane field road to the main cane haul road intersection and turn right. There will be a security shack posting beach opening and closing hours. Beach access closes at 6pm. Hours are strictly enforced by the landowner, Grove Farm Company, Inc. (Mr. Stephen Case), that allows public access at their own risk.

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View towards Ha'ula Beach.

Maha`ulepu is of great significance to Hawaiians, many of whom are connected to this area by ancestral ties and by continuing cultural uses including fishing and gathering. Close to the beach is the paleontologicallyimportant Makauwahi Cave.

Maha'ulepu means "(two warriors) falling together". The origin of the name is reported in two different versions. In one story, the name goes back to the time when King Kamehameha unsuccessfully attempted to invade Kauai in 1796 with more than 1,200 of his canoes carrying 10,000 warriors. The warriors who survived the storm between Oahu and Kauai landed on Maha'ulepu beach totally exhausted. Kauai's defenders caught them sleeping near their canoes in the morning and killed most of them. Those who escaped paddled all the way to the Big Island.

In another version, Maha'ulepu’s name comes from a legendary battle that occurred much earlier in the 1300’s when Kalaunuio Hua made an attempt to take conquer Kauai. Kalaunuio Hua and his men paddled from the Big Island to Kauai and landed on Maha'ulepu beach. Kukona, then ruling chief of Kauai, appeared on the ridge above the gathering enemies. Kalaunuio Hua hurried to meet Kukona which prompted a chase towards Wahiawa (near Kalaheo). Here, Kukona and his army attacked Kalaunuio Hua's tired warriors and defeated them soundly. Kalaunuio Hua became a prisoner to Kukona. Thus began the legend of Kauai as an island that was never conquered.

Makauwahi Cave.

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