The mysterious ponds of Kalahuipua'a and their secret
That's a good title! And for good reason, we stumbled upon this place a bit by chance while trying to explore all the nooks and crannies of the island, and we didn't expect to discover the little paradise that hides here, lost between the luxurious residences of the Mauna Lani area, north of Waikilōloa.
The Kalahuipua'a area consists of two completely different places: the Kalahuipua'a Historic Park which is a lava field, and the Kalahuipua'a Fishponds, a preserved ecosystem of ancient fishing ponds that hides a small freshwater basin with crystal clear water.
1The crossing of the old lava field
Kalahuipua'a Historic Park
The Kalahuipua'a Historic Park is an ancient lava flow located in the heart of the exclusive district of Maula Lani. It is possible to cross it thanks to a pedestrian and paved path of 400m which allows us to discover several small lava caverns and tunnels.
Small signs will teach you a little more about the formation of these tunnels (Lava tubes).
How to get to the Kalahuipua'a Historic Park
A small shady public car park provides easy access to the Kalahuipua'a Historic Park. Access is from Pauoa Road. Sanitary facilities are on site.
2The lakes and the Secret Pond
The Kalahuipua'a Fishponds are ancient small natural fishing lakes bordering the ocean. The area is now protected.
Hundreds of palm trees line the small brackish water ponds in shades ranging from blue to green, where a few small fish live. The ponds thus follow one another down to the sea and several paths allow you to walk along them.
Benches arranged here and there invite us to contemplate the landscape that emerges with the ocean as a backdrop and small footbridges allow us to walk between the ponds.
How to get to the Kalahuipua'a Fishponds
To access the Kalahuipua'a Fishponds you have to park in the small public car park of the Kalahuipua'a Historic Park (see directions just above). From the car park, take the path that crosses the lava flow for 400m and leads to a road. Then cross the road and you will arrive at a view of the ponds.
Take the time to walk around here, ideally using a GPS application to get your bearings as the area has several small passages between the ponds and it's easy to get lost in them.
You will find sanitary facilities and a shower in the car park.
The Secret Pond
It is in this subtle ecosystem that the Secret Pond is hidden, a small, transparent, fresh water pool hidden at the end of an unmarked dirt path. We were there alone, a pure moment of happiness and one of our Big Island favorites.
The pool is not large but allows a few people to cool off. There must be about 1m50 of water and its bottom is a natural complement even though its edges have been landscaped.
It's a great place to cool off! At the first foot in the pond dozens of small skin-eating fish come to sit and peck at our feet. You only have to move a little to let them go and they are not bothered if you decide to swim further.
A sign reminds us not to put any products on before going into the pond so as not to pollute the fresh water. Also be careful not to slip down the steps/rocks as they are covered with a thin film of green algae.
After the relaxing break do not hesitate to continue the walk that winds between the ponds before going along the seaside.
How to access Secret Pond
The Secret Pond is not at all suitable, so the best way to find it is to locate the point we've indicated on the map at the bottom of the article. If you have a GPS, the coordinates are: 19.940764; -155.869537.
Once you get to the ponds, walk along the first pond and then take the first road to the left. After 150m turn again to the left. After a few dozen meters, the road disappears and you will find a dirt area that you have to continue to cross. After another few dozen meters you will finally arrive in view of the basin.
3The walk around the Kalahuipua'a Fishponds
2.1 km Loop - 30 minutes - Easy
If you have a little time in front of you, do not hesitate to make the small loop which will allow you to explore all the fishponds by returning by the seaside. The walk is very pleasant!
From the Kalahuipua'a Historic Park car park, cross the lava field to reach the pedestrian crossing. Once on the other side, choose the direction you want to take to make the loop, knowing that we recommend to take it clockwise.
Have fun walking along the different ponds and take the footbridges that connect them before reaching Mauna Lani Beach where you can eventually put your towel down. The small bay is really charming and as a reminder, there is no private beach in Hawaii, so you can settle down there without any problem.
Then continue the walk along the ocean to go up north. Here the trail follows the dam from where you can see the Makaha gate, a water regulating gate that was once built to trap fish.
A footbridge makes it possible there also to go towards an islet in the middle of the fishpond.
Once at the end, take the path that goes to the right, continuing along the pond (not the ocean). You will soon reach the pedestrian crossing which you will have to cross again. There will be only the lava field to cross before reaching the parking lot.