If you are looking to walk / bike / run near your future home on island,
it might be a good idea to look at the East Side along the Kauai Path!
Learning about an unfamiliar area’s unique characteristics is a sure way to enrich a
visitor’s experience. The same is true for gaining a deeper appreciation of your local
surroundings—understanding the factors that shaped your home town.
Ke Ala Hele Makalae, east Kauai’s coastal path system, now features more than
two-dozen cultural markers and interpretive signs spread from the South side of the
Wailua River to the mysterious and massive concrete relic—the “Pineapple
Dump”—near Kuna Bay. Path users are presented with geographical, ecological, cultural,
and social information illuminating a broad range of the area’s heritage.
Back in 1999 one challenge facing “Kauai’s Health and Heritage Corridor”
working task force (convened by then Council Member Bryan Baptiste) was how to
perpetuate and accurately convey the location’s cultural story. The task force compiled
much of the content that eventually was used as the basis for the interpretive signage
series. The interpretive materials reward path users as they explore or re-visit the coast.
In fact, the interpretive series won acclaim for the County. A media release issued
by the Department of Public Works boasts, “The County of Kaua‘i recently received a
Preservation Honor Award from the Historic Hawai‘i Foundation for its series of
interpretive signs that are placed along Ke Ala Hele Makalae, the Path that Goes by the
Coast. The series is called the Puna Moku Coastal Trail Heritage Signage.
“ ‘We are honored to be recognized for our efforts to promote preservation and
appreciation for the area’s cultural heritage,’ said Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr. ‘A big
mahalo goes to everyone who’s been involved in this project over the years, including:
Calvin Miyahara with KSF Inc.; Doug Haigh, Kaua‘i County Building Division chief;
Jim Powell and Michael Dega, Scientific Consultant Services, Inc.; and Stan Duncan,
PBR Hawai‘i and Associates, Inc.’ ”
The interpretive signage explains how the river and coastal geology, ecology,
flora, and fauna shaped the environment. Over time people came to the island, bringing
their culture, erecting monuments, and establishing commerce. Markers set into the path
demarcate ancient ahupua‘a boundaries. The signage tells the stories of the many
generations of Kapaa inhabitants: those who sailed the Pacific in their voyaging canoes,
established a monarchy, and built the complex of heiau in Wailuanuiaho‘ano (“Great
Sacred Wailua”); the ferry operators that predated bridges crossing the Wailua River; the
rice farmers who cultivated paddies in Kapaa; the Kealia sugar mill workers who lived in
its camps; the Japanese immigrants who raised a massive stone lantern honoring the their
homeland’s Emperor, then buried the lantern to hide it from potential persecutors, and
those who discovered, relocated, and eventually restored the lantern in its present setting
within the Kapaa Beach Park; the factory workers in the Pono Pineapple cannery; and of
course Elvis floating along the Coco Palms iconic lagoon.
Go see for yourself—you might learn something!