Nu’uanu Pali Lookout
in the Ko’olau Mountain Range
Geologists believe a massive earthquake sheared the Ko’olau volcano (Ko’olau means “windward” in Hawaiian) in half causing a gigantic landslide and sending debris across some 100 miles of ocean floor. A tsunami estimated to have been nearly 1000’ high inundated all the islands to the northeast and beyond. The volcano’s caldera came to rest on this windward coastline to form Kaneohe Bay. You
The cataclysmic event left behind a mountain range of steep cliffs that are today some 3000 feet high at their highest point but may have been originally over 9000 feet tall! Wind and rain have eroded them to form what is today the cliff-lined coast of windward Oahu. The lowest elevation gap in these treacherously steep mountain cliffs runs up the Nu’uanu Valley and through the Nu’uanu Pali.
Pali means “precipice” in Hawaiian and this route from Honolulu’s leeward side to the windward side has been inhabited and utilized for over 1000 years. The ancient footpath that traversed the pali pass became the “Old Pali Highway” and is known to Hawaiians for being a place of intense spiritual connections. Various legends and ghost stories have settings along this old highway that are steeped in history from ancient times. See it all from the Nuuanu Pali Lookout.
Conquests of Kamehameha
The Nu’uanu Pali is the site of the last great battle to unify the entire island chain into one kingdom. Kamehameha had started his campaign to conquer all the islands in 1783, shortly after acquiring a cannon and muskets for his army. His main rival was Maui’s king Kahekili, who had managed to conquer or control all the islands except the Big Island. Kamehameha’s path to unifying the islands was not straight. He would conquer Maui, Molokai, and Lana’i only to return to the Big Island to put down revolts. Kahekili died on Oahu in 1794, and a civil war broke out between his son, Kalanikupule and his half brother Ka’eokulani for control of the island. Kalanikupule ultimately won but his army was weakened.