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.


Protected Property Information

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

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 Waihee Refuge is among the most significant cultural sites in the state.

In 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), alae ke‘oke‘o (coot), koloa (duck), and even nene (goose).

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 public is invited to visit the Refuge on free, guided explorations offered throughout the year, or for a self-guided walk along the two-mile coastal trail.

The Hawaiian Islands Land Trust ensures that this rich cultural site, once slated for development as a destination golf resort, will be forever protected.