The Legend of the Shapeshifting Shark-Man of Makua Cave is the first post of a series that we call Exploration: Hawaii Chicken Skin Legends, Locations, and Stories. These posts will explore some of the chicken skin (hair-raising goosbumbs for you mainlanders) inducing locations and stories that Hawaii has to offer. Since it’s October and Halloween is right around the corner, you can expect to see a couple of these posts throughout the month. And remember, you should always respect Hawaiian legends, spirits, and stories as spiritual Hawaiiana is something that should be respected and taken seriously.
During a recent trip to Kaena Point, we made a stop along the way to Makua Cave. Located just past mile marker 17 and Keeau Beach Park, this mysterious cave is full of Hawaiian legend. Nicknamed Makua Cave, this cave on the northwestern shore of Oahu is officially known as Kaneana (there’s even a sign across the street etched with this name). Kaneana is translated to mean Cave of the Kane (kane means man in Hawaiian).
Legend goes that within Makua Cave lives a shapeshifting Shark-Man that transforms into human form to lure people into the cave. It is because of this that during the ancient Hawaiian times, people were forbidden from entering Makua Cave, fearful that they would be attacked or eaten by the Shark-Man. With this in mind, Marvin, Joel, and I hesitantly entered the cave.
I was impressed by the sheer height of the mouth of the cave. As we walked further into the cave, though, the ceiling became shorter and shorter. There came a point where I needed to bend down to go deeper into the cave. We eventually stopped at a point that would have forced us to crawl on our stomachs in order to continue. There was no way that I would do that. And although we did not see the Shark-Man, we did have an encounter with some unexpected visitors .
According to Durupan & Chan, Makua Cave is approximately 150,000 years old and more than 450 feet deep. They also note that Makua Cave used to be underwater and was carved out of the sea.
Durupan & Chan also mention that the little tunnels at the end of the cave (remember, the ones that I refused to crawl into) will lead to the inner end of the cave. They also note that there used to a rope at the end that you could use to climb down and at the end you would find a happy face. Would I attempt this? Hell no.
Directions: From Honolulu you will drive west bound on H1 Freeway towards Ewa/Waianae. Follow H1 past Ewa, eventually it will become Farrington Highway and you pass Nanakuli, Makaha, and Waianae. Just past mile-marker 17 will be Makua Cave on your right hand side. Park across the street on your left in the dirt road parking lot. In the parking lot you will see a sign indicating that you are at Kaneana Park.
1. Two people from Climb Aloha stopped by to also check out Makua Cave a few minutes after we got there. They were pretty cool and I even asked them if they were scouting some new climbing routes. They said “no way!”