A popular recreation area along the Big Island’s Kona Coast, Kahaluu Bay is also a very important historic and cultural site. Hawaiian royalty lived along this shoreline in ancient times.
A stone wall breakwater known as Paokamenehune (“The menehune breakwater”) once nearly enclosed the bay as it extended in a 3,900-foot-long semicircle. Significant remnants of this ancient engineering accomplishment remain in place though many of the wall’s boulders have been scattered by centuries of waves.
Located along the shore of Kahaluu Bay was the thatched roof home of Kuakini who was known as the Royal Governor John Adams. Also along the bay was King Kalakaua’s summer beach house. Both homes have now been reconstructed.
Due to the many cultural and historic sites the whole area around Kahaluu Bay was placed on the National and State Registers of Historic Places as a historic district. At the southern end of the bay is Kahaluu Beach Park which is protected by the breakwater making it popular for swimming and snorkeling.
On the north side of Kahaluu Bay is the historic St. Peter’s Catholic Church which is often called the “Little Blue Church.” St. Peter’s was moved to this location in 1912 from White Sands Beach and today is a popular wedding site and one of Hawaii’s most photographed churches.
Just to the north of St. Peter’s is Kuemanu Heiau which was a place of religious offerings by royalty in ancient times before they went surfing in Kahaluu Bay. The nearby canoe landing site is called Keawaiki, and still visible in the bay are two ancient fishponds called Po’o Hawaii and Waikua’ala.
Hapaialii Heiau is located south of the Kahaluu Bay and was restored in 2007. Dating to the 1400s, the heiau is thought to have been used for astronomical observations. Located nearby are two other heiau, Kapuanoni and Ke’eku, the latter being a luakini, or temple of human sacrifice. At low tide petroglyphs can be seen on the nearby shoreline rocks.