Ancient Hawaiian Fishpond Considered An Engineering Marvel

Along a bend in the Huleia Stream just above Nawiliwili Harbor on the east side of Kauai is a very historic fishpond that is said to have been built by an ancient race of people known as the Menehune.

Menehune Fish Pond

A 900-foot stone wall that separates the fishpond from the stream is considered an engineering marvel. According to legend the large aquaculture facility was completely constructed during one moonlit night when the stones were passed along a 25-mile-long double row of Menehune extending workers all the way from the quarry to the site.

The fishpond is said to have been built at the request of a chief named ʻAlekoko who requested one pond for himself and another for his sister Hāhālua. The Menehune agreed but, as was their custom, they insisted that no one watch them while they do their work.

However, that night ʻAlekoko could not help himself and he looked to see how the fishpond construction work was going.  The Menehune immediately halted their efforts and then they all washed their bloody hands in the river. This is how the fishpond acquired its name ʻAlekoko which means “Bloody Ripples.”

Today the Menehune Fishpond is no longer in use for its traditional purpose which was to trap and raise fish for food. The fishpond was used to raise awa (milkfish), ‘ama‘ama (mullet) and other fish.

Visitors can see the Menehune Fishpond from an overlook on Hulemalu Road where there is also an informational plaque about the site. Another way to see the fishpond is by taking a guided kayak tour on the Huleia Stream and the Huleia National Wildlife Refuge.

This fishpond area with its magnificent backdrop of the Haupu mountain range was also seen in several major films including Jurassic Park and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

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