Waihee Coastal Dunes and Wetlands Refuge

Since 2003 the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust has managed the Waihee Coastal Dunes and Wetlands Refuge for three purposes: to restore habitat for endangered species, particularly the endemic waterbird species, preserve and protect the 93 archaeological sites on the property, and to educate the public, especially students of all ages, about the importance of preserving special places, or wahi pana, across the archipelago.

The Waihee Refuge is a place of significance to the Hawaiian people dating to mythological times. The massive 200- foot sand dunes that encircle the refuge were said to be built by the goddess Haumea, goddess of childbirth, to protect the sacred tree Kalaukekahuli, which was given to her after successfully delivering a child. With habitation dates extending back over 1,000 years, Waihee is among the earliest places people called home in Hawaii, and the myths, legends and stories underlie the historical and cultural significance of this area. The huakai makaikai around the Waihee Refuge will introduce you to this special place, and to the work the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust is doing to restore its ecological integrity, while bringing over a thousand students and several thousand visitors each year to the refuge. The easy two to three-hour tour will pass sacred temples, a fishpond which dates to the 1500’s and several temple sites.

After this excursion, if you are interested in developing a deeper connection with the aina, you are welcome to volunteer in our ecological restoration work. There are a number of opportunities available. Our goal is to connect people to the land, and through this connection to cultivate a sense of aloha aina, or love of the land, and ultimately the kuleana intrinsic to this feeling of aloha, malama aina.