# 1 Nä Ala Hele Trailhead

 

This site is the starting point of the Nä Ala Hele portion of the historic Alanui Aupuni, or Old Government Road (the trail). It begins at the end of the cinder graded section of road, passing through Hawaiian Paradise Park subdivision. The point of land (formed by an ancient lava flow) across which the trail passes is known as Höpoe, named for a goddess of the native lehua forests, and companion of Hi‘iaka, one of Pele’s sisters.

During World War II, portions of the Alanui Aupuni over which you will be walking, were modified into a jeep access road in order to fortify the Puna coast line.

 

# 2 Railroad Spike, View of Mountains

 

After approximately six minutes of walking, you will be on a rise. On a clear day, when looking to the uplands, you can see Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa and Pu‘u ‘O‘o.

You should now be standing near a railroad spike circled with white paint, This was the survey marker of the Land Court action in the 1920s which confirmed the center of the historic road.

 

# 3 Village of Keauhou

 

After walking six or seven minutes more you will enter a tunnel of trees, and on your immediate left there is a stone wall. This marks the beginning of the village of Keauhou. The village complex extends for the next five or six minutes of walking. You are asked not to leave the trail, as this is the only public access, and there are lava tubes and other hazards in the underbrush.

 

# 4 Ulu Niu - Coconut Grove

 

Next, you will come to a point where the trail turns to the northwest and you will be in a grove of coconut palms. The grove was probably part of Keauhou Village, which extended all the way to the ocean.

 

# 5, 6, 7  Päkï Village & Trail to Shoreline

 

After about 15 minutes of walking, you will come to an area on your left where a rock wall begins. You are approaching the Keauhou School site, near the former Päkï Village.

Just past this point, the trail on which you have been walking will intersect the Päkï Trail (which has also been modified into a jeep access). The Päkï Trail goes to a former village (where the last native resident dwelled until 1941). The Alanui Aupuni continues on, straight ahead.

 

# 8 ‘Alä and ‘Ili‘ili Paving Stones

 

At the intersection of the Päkï Trail and Alanui Aupuni is seen an excellent example of the original paving stones used in the construction of the road. The ‘alä (large rounded beach boulders) make the surface of the trail, and the ‘ili‘ili (small water worn pebbles), served as fill to smooth out the alignment. The entire length of the Alanui Aupuni was paved in this manner.

 

# 9 Ala Haka (Stone Causeways and Bridges)

 

Another ten minutes of travel along the trail will bring you to an area on your left which is sunken and usually filled with water. These were once taro patches (lo‘i) and later, lily ponds. This is also an area in which you will see excellent examples of ala haka (causeways) which were built to span channels and water features. There are four of them in the next half mile.

After passing the wetlands and ala haka, the trail passes over a lava tube which has collapsed on both sides.

If you look into the collapsed pit on your right, you will notice that stone walls have been erected in the pit. The walls were used as pens for pigs and other animals.

 

# 10 Kea‘au School Site

 

Another twenty minutes of walking will bring you to the former Kea‘au School site. The school lot was enclosed by a rock wall on the right, or makai, side of the trail.

From this point on, the ocean will be visible as you travel along the trail.

Two schools near the shore of Kea‘au were established in the early 1840s. One school was called Kea‘au and the other, Keauhou. The schools were made in the traditional hale (house) style, with thatched roofs. Historic records from around 1860 tell us that wild cattle and other animals impacted the schools and gardens tended by the students. As a result, the walls enclosing the school lots were made with no openings. In order to access the school lot, students used either a small stone step or wooden ladder.

 

# 11 Ulu Niu (Coconut Grove)

 

Another fifteen minutes of walking will bring you to a stand of coconut trees which also marked the southern boundary of the former village of Hä‘ena.

 

# 12 Stone Wall and Gate

 

Five more minutes and you will come to a stone wall on your left, which at one time contained a gate, the metal posts of which are still visible. The wall and gate were part of a system of features which were used to mark paddocks and private property boundaries

 

# 13 Shipman-Fisher Boundary

 

A stone wall which runs out to the ocean marks the boundary of the Shipman-Fisher property.

 

# 14 Hä‘ena

 

Climbing a small rise, you will come to a plateau which has been cleared and is relatively level, about three-quarters of an acre in size. This is Hä‘ena. A place that has significance in Hawaiian culture because it is identified as the birthplace of the hula. The point is named for the nature goddess Hä‘ena, companion of Höpoe and Hi‘iaka of traditional lore. In the 1800s and early 1900s, the flat land was maintained as a sweet potato cultivating ground.

 

# 15 World War II Bunker (on the left)

 

Continuing on another fifteen minutes, you will cross the plateau of Hä‘ena and go down the slope, at which point a rock wall appears at your left. Continuing on, you will come across a poured concrete bunker which is on the left side of the trail. This is one of two fortifications installed during World War II. The other bunker is on the opposite shore of Kea‘au Bay.

You are now only a few minutes walk from Kea‘au Bay. From the bunker, you can see the bay. The Alanui Aupuni seems to disappear in a marshy area just south of the bay. Depending upon the rainfall and the tide, you may have to work your way around the rocks to reach the bay itself. This area was created by the tidal wave of 1946, when the stonework that was the causeway across the wetland washed out.

 

# 16 Höpoe

 

Passing around to the seaward side of the wetland, you will view a lava flat extending into the sea and forming the southern boundary of Kea‘au Bay. It was on this lava flat, near the water’s edge, that the stone form of Höpoe, companion of Hi‘iaka and Hä‘ena was perched. Tradition tells us that Höpoe (goddess of the lehua forest, and expert hula dancer) was turned to stone by Pele (goddess of the volcanoes). The stone body of Höpoe remained on the lava flat here until 1946, when a tsunami (tidal wave) washed her out to sea. (Refer to the website for the full story.)

 

# 17  Kea‘au Bay and Beach

 

At this point, you are looking at Kea‘au Bay. There is a rock and coral reef here, and behind it is brackish water and the impoundment where fresh water rises and then flows out into the ocean. Everything behind the sand area is private property, and not open to public access.

 

This is a beautiful spot to have lunch and enjoy the view.

 

BACK

Puna Trails Webpage   *PlanetPuna*