Note: Kaniakapupu is not open to the public. It is illegal to hike this trail and to do so would be cause for citation or arrest. There is also a risk of falling boulders, landslides, and drowning. As such, all accounts here are fictional. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. Adobe Photoshop is a wonderful piece of software that allows one to superimpose another into a photo making it seem as if they were somewhere when if fact they were not. Got it?
You can count this one as a totally awesome find. Why? Because you will not find Kaniakapupu in any Oahu guide book. It’s a hidden treasure that few locals know even exist. Tucked away in Nu’uanu lay the ruins of the summer home of King Kamehameha. These ruins are known as Kaniakapupu, or ”the singing of the land shell.”
A few of us decided to venture out to the outskirts of the Pali highway to find this ancient Hawaiian ruins. This is the perfect excursion for those of you who want to do a little exploring but don’t have a lot of time to spare. The trail to the ruins is located off of Nu’uanu Pali Drive and takes about 5-10 minutes to access the site. You’ll need to navigate though about 600 ft. of bamboo to reach the ruins.
Kaniakapupu is the only remaining structure associated with Kamehameha III. Furthermore, since Kaniakapupu was the home to a king, it was considered to be kapu (Hawaiian word meaning forbidden, though it also carries the meaning of sacred, consecrated, or holy). It honestly did feel a bit eerie to be roaming the home of a former Hawaiian monarch. There were a few chicken skin moments that I experienced while I was exploring the back of the ruins by myself. It was like I could feel the mana (Hawaiian word meaning supernatural or divine power, or to have authority, privilege or power) being exuded from the site.
There isn’t much left of the home, however, there is a memorial placard posted toward the front of the home. It reads:
Summer Palace of King Kamehameha III and his Queen Kalama
Completed in 1845, it was the scene of entertainment of foreign celebrities the feasting of chiefs and commoners. The greatest of these occasions was a luau attended by an estimated ten thousand people celebrating Hawaiian Restoration Day in 1847.
From Honolulu, you will take the Pali Highway towards Kaneohe. You will then take the Nu’uanu Pali Drive exit. Follow this road until you see the Board of Water Supply building on the left. Park your car on the side of the street. You will find a bamboo pathway across the street of the Board of Water Supply building which marks the start of the short trail. Follow this trail about 300′, then take the first left turn and walk another 300′. The ruins will be at the end of this short trail.
Kaniakapupu Ruins Tips:
- Use bug repelant. The Pali is notorious for being wet and mosquitos love wet things!
- Respect the ruins. This was the stomping grounds of Hawaiian royalty. Pick up your trash before your leave.
- This is a high break in area. Do not leave your valuables in your car.