Lanai Historic Sites | Go Hawaii

Historic Places

Scroll to Continue

Lānaʻi Historic Places

From King Kamehameha’s favorite summer fishing spot to the remains of an ancient fishing village, Lānaʻi’s historic sites and landmarks offer glimpses into the past.


The barren, rocky landscape on Lānaʻi’s western uplands is oftentimes nicknamed Garden of Gods. However, its true name, Keahiakawelo, means “the fire of Kawelo.” It refers to the island’s priest, Kawelo, and how he built a fire there to ward off prayers of ill will from a priest on the island of Molokaʻi. To protect his island, Kawelo resorted to sorcery to kill the other priest, saving Lānaʻi’s people. 

The land of Keahiakawelo was once home to a lowland forest. But grazing animals introduced in modern times, such as goat and deer, and wind erosion took their toll, creating the stark terrain found there today.


A National Historic Landmark, the fishing village of Kaunolū was frequented by King Kamehameha the Great, who enjoyed its fishing grounds. The stone remains of his royal house can still be seen on a bluff overlooking the bay. On an easy mile-long trail along the coast, hikers can see heiau (temples), petroglyphs and other historic structures left by residents who lived in Kaunolū until the 1880s. Interpretive signs can be found at sites along the trail, encouraging visitors to learn the significance of this place without disturbing these important cultural legacies.

Keōmoku Village

Before Lānaʻi became a pineapple plantation in 1922, it had a sugar plantation headquartered at Keōmoku, on the island’s northeast side, from 1899 to 1901. The Maunalei Sugar Co. didn’t last long, but the nearly 800 laborers who helped with the operation came together to create a community with a church, a schoolhouse and an outdoor bread oven and mill. A marked trail through the remains of the abandoned town guides visitors curious to learn about life over a century ago in this isolated location. They are asked to tread lightly, however, as two ancient Hawaiian fishponds and many heiau can be found in the area.


This beach has certainly earned its nickname: Shipwreck Beach. More than a dozen 19th- and 20th-century shipwrecks, some intentionally grounded and some not, occupy their watery berths on six miles of Lānaʻi’s north shore coastline, in different states of disrepair. The two more prominent shipwrecks date to the World War II era: a YOGN-42 navy fuel barge and the YO-21 ferro-cement Navy yard oiler, which was present at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7. Visitors enjoy hiking the 6-mile coastline, beachcombing the shore and photographing the unlucky ships.


An 80-foot-high natural land formation off the southern coast’s Mānele Bay, Pu‘upehe is named after a young Hawaiian girl who was buried on the islet. According to legend, a warrior overcome with love hid her in a cave, which became flooded due to a storm. When he returned, he found her drowned. Heartbroken, he climbed to the top of Pu‘upehe to bury her, then jumped into the pounding surf below.

Read More About Where to Find Statues of Hawaiʻi's Heroes

Read More