Waihe‘e Coastal Dunes & Wetlands Refuge
Active restoration is enhancing critical native wildlife habitat while preserving one of the most significant cultural sites in Hawai‘i, once populated with two thriving Hawaiian villages, Kapoho and Kapokea.
Size: 277 acres
Year Protected: 2004
Land Protection Strategy: Owned by the Land Trust
Conservation Values: Recreation, archaeological and cultural preservation, and habitat for native plants and animals
Land Features: Coastal wetlands, dunes, marine shoreline, near-shore reef systems and riparian habitat
About Waihe‘e Coastal Dunes & Wetlands Refuge
The Land Trust took fee ownership of this very sensitive 277-acre site in 2004. Active restoration programs have enhanced critical native wildlife habitat, while preserving the area’s rich archaeological and cultural resources. Once populated with two thriving ancient Hawaiian villages, an extensive inland fishpond and several heiau, the Waihe‘e Refuge is among the most significant cultural sites in the state.
As a testament to the returning health of the ecosystem, eight different endangered species have taken up residence at the Refuge in recent years. With the wetlands primarily cleared and habitat-appropriate plants now thriving, the area is host to many native Hawaiian bird species, including ae‘o (stilt) and ‘alae ke‘oke‘o (coot). Native plants such as naupaka, ‘ulei, ‘akia, ‘a‘ali‘i, pohinahina, and loulu are located on the Refuge. Additionally, ‘uhaloa (used in Hawaiian medicine practice) and pili (grass used for the roof of traditional hale) are found here.
Quiet and pristine, the Waihe‘e shoreline is a favorite retreat for endangered Hawaiian monk seals and nesting green sea turtles. Off the coast, the extensive reef is one of the longest and widest on Maui. It’s believed that this reef system provided excellent fishing in ancient times and it is, in fact, still a favorite among local fishermen today.
The Hawaiian Islands Land Trust ensures that this rich cultural site, once slated for development as a destination golf resort, will be forever protected.
Learn the oli for the wahi pana (storied place) of Kapoho composed by Luanna Kawa‘a.
- Hawaiian Skies Video of the Refuge!
- Scott Fisher, Associate Executive Director of Conservation shows Skyline Eco-Adventures around the Waihe‘e Refuge! View it here.
- Huffington Post - Protecting Paradise on Maui by Sherry Ott - March 5, 2014
- Huffington Post - In Land We Trust: How You Can Help Save Hawaii by Jon Letman - 1/14/14
- Land Trust Alliance - The Hawaiian Islands Land Trust - Waihe‘e Coastal Dunes and Wetlands Refuge
- Reference to the Kili‘o‘opu wind of Waihe‘e - Nupepa Ku‘oko‘a - March 18, 1926