Venture north from Downtown Honolulu along Highway 61 and immediately the hustle and bustle of city life melts into the back of your mind. Skyscrapers give way to beautiful and ornate trees like the monkeypods, koa haole, and Hawaiian ash. Nuuanu Pali stands tall against the sloping valleys and offers breathtaking views to most of eastern O’ahu. Nuuanu in Hawaiian means, ” This spot holds a plethora of mystery and legends across its open and rocky crevice.
This lookout memorializes the defeat of the Oahu warriors under King Kalanikūpule at the Battle of Nuuanu after King Kamehameha I with a 10,000-warrior army rushed the defending Oahu army. This rushed surprise attack forced 400 warriors to stand and fight as the defeated Oahu forces retreat back to the mountain pass and down the steep mountains from which they came; almost 800 bodies were found as many would fall over the ridge and to their deaths hundreds of feet below. Nuuanu was seen by many as the sole means of transportation over land for hundreds of years by the Ancient Hawaiians. The only other safe access point to the main southern villages of the coastal area of present-day Honolulu was by boat. Nuuanu Pali stands at the lowest elevation of the Ko’olau’s just under 1200 feet above sea level. Transportation between current day Kailua and Kaneohe were paramount for trade supplies and economic growth for the fertile windward side. Legends tell of wahine (women) who would offer safe passage once you visited her at the falls below. Mo’o, giant lizards similar to the monitor and gila monster were said to live in the waters of murky waterfalls as well. King Kamehameha has an abandoned palace in the bamboo forests of Nuuanu, and the remains of the kings were said to have been kept in the large number of caves along the ridges to protect them from vandalism and mistreatment. Being that this area sits at this low level and had such a role in the lives of the everyday Hawaiian, this area has been the site of a lot of history for Oahu’s people. (To Be Continued)