Note: Kaniakapupu is a closed trail and is not open to the public. Only authorized groups are allowed to hike Kaniakapupu, including, the Sierra Club of Hawaii and the Hawaiian Civic Club. As our disclaimer partially reads: “I’m not your daddy, these are dangerous as sh*t hikes, even the simple ones, if you got [insert applicable disorder, disease, or physical impairment] don’t even think about it yo.” Also, consider these tips on Hiking Safely In Hawaii. Mahalo.
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. Directions to Kaniakapupu? The trail to the ruins is located off of Nuuanu 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 excluded 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.
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.