Moloa’a to Kealia

Just north of Kapaa lies the community of Kealia, literally meaning “salt encrustation” or “salt bed.” In ancient times, Hawaiians mined salt in the salt flats that once existed there, thus providing the area its name. When sugar became the key commodity of the island, the Kealia Plantation was established during the late 1800s. The plantation was later renamed the Makee Sugar Company after being acquired by James Makee and his son-in-law.

However, the most distinct landmark Kealia delivers is the long strand of sand and cerulean water lapping at the shore of Kealia Beach. Easily visible and accessible from the highway, this half mile stretch of coastline is perfect for strolling and whale watching during the winter months.

North of Kealia is a region rich in natural beauty and cultural history. Originally, spelled Anehola, meaning “the breath of life,” Anahola is home to the largest population of native Hawaiians living on Kauai. Before westerners settled on the island, the people of this community lived a subsistence life, which included canoe construction and kapa (barkcloth) making. Historically, taro and other crops were grown in abundance at the Anahola River mouth. Anahola Bay is still a major resource for the residents, who fish and pick limu (seaweed) there.

Anahola’s natural wealth is lavish and is easily displayed by its mountain range. Kalalea mountain, part of this range, was also known as Mano (Hawaiian for shark) Mountain, since the peak resembles a shark fin. Now, thanks to the 1976 King Kong film, many have come to know this outcrop as Kong Mountain. Regardless of title, Hawaiians express a sacred and divine connection to this summit.

For those looking for more seclusion to relax and explore, venture to Aliomanu Beach and Papaa Bay. An ahupua’a (subdivision) of Anahola, Aliomanu is dotted with gracious homesites with grazing horses in their lime green pastures. A short, rocky hike from the northern part of Aliomanu Beach will take you to Papaa Bay. Private and quiet due to its limited accessibility, this beach was featured in the movie, Six Days, Seven Nights.

From the big screen to the small screen, the relaxed residential community of Moloa’a is best known as the filming location for the pilot and first episode of Gilligan’s Island. Unlike those castaways, you won’t want to leave the soft, golden sand of the horseshoe shaped bay with its turquoise blue water.

The area gets its name, Molo a’a, from a Hawaiian term meaning matted roots. Wauke, the paper mulberry tree, grew so densely in the nearby area that their roots were interwoven.

The Moloa’a Forest Reserve, which surrounds the region, was created to protect and preserve the forest on the steep slopes. The result is a refreshingly undeveloped landscape.

Go beyond the beach in this eight-mile stretch from Kealia to Molaa, featuring an unspoiled beauty that’s pure, profound and authentic.