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Brown Water at Kanaha

Brown Water at Kanaha

Brown Water at Kanaha

After heavy rains upcountry, the soil and sediment in the upcountry streams gets washed downstream and goes into the ocean. We call these events Brown Water. It can be sunny and dry at the beach, but if it rains heavily on the uphill slopes, then you can get A flash flood, and swift moving water suddenly swells the streams and culverts, and you will get a situation like in the photograph below. It is always possible that this can happen at anytime, so be careful if camping near a stream, or if kids are playing near a stream. Brown-water brings with it the soil, and pesticides, livestock feces and other contaminants. The bacteria in brown-water is potentially harmful to humans, so you should avoid contact with brown-water in streams, and in the ocean. Brown-water is also damaging to coral reefs and marine life too. The pesticides like roundup, used on ag crops and sugar cane fields goes into the streams and oceans and is toxic to plants, algae, and coral.  Hopefully in the future better farming practices uphill, and less livestock churning the soil, will help to reduce the occurrence of Brown Water. meanwhile stay out of the ocean too, for at least three days or until the water is clear again. Especially if you have any cuts on you. an never get brown-water into your eyes or nose either.

Brown water flooding from a stream at Kanaha Beach
Windsurfing at Kanaha Beach

Windsurfing at Kanaha Beach

Windsurfing at Kanaha Beach

Kanaha Beach is known as one of the best places to windsurf in the world. Warm water and reliable trade winds are ideal for this popular water-sport. Kanaha Beach is favored by Maui’s unique geography. The west Maui mountains and Mt. Haleakala form a valley that is perfectly aligned to funnel the trade-winds blowing from the North east. The trade-winds become squeezed along the north shore and into the Kahului bay, this makes the wind stronger at Kanaha Beach and from the ideal direction. Maui is lucky to have a Kanaha Beach that is blessed with so many natural assets. When you come to Kanaha Beach you will see the beginners learning in the light morning winds in the eastern cove, and then at 11am and afterward the experts come out to play. Kanaha Beach is an excellent place to see all levels of windsurfing, beginner to expert on display.

The Sport of Windsurfing: Windsurfing was a sport that was invented by Hoyle Schweitzer and Jim Drake in 1967. It quickly became a worldwide phenomenon. Early adopters of the sport were the Hawaiians, with year round wind and warm water Hawaii was a natural place to practice the sport. Hawaii had no shortage of accomplished water-men (and women) ready to try the sport. Hawaii has produced many icons of the sports, legends, and many world champions. Some names are legendary, and have become industry icons. With millions of participants worldwide, and now an Olympic sport, Windsurfing now is an international sport with competitions in multiple windsurfing disciplines, and world tours, as well as a recreational market as well. Windsurfing has now been around for about 50 years and is now often a family affair. Especially at Kanaha Beach you can often see several generations windsurfing together. Windsurfing is now a family sport, and we sometimes even see three generations sailing together at once.

Professional Career Opportunities: For as few dedicated windsurfers, there is the opportunity for the career path of a professional athlete. Maui has a great representation of professionals at every level of their career. Even at Kanaha Beach we have a large community world class professional windsurfers, active and semi-retired, and many current up-and-coming athletes. This makes Maui an ideal environment for creating and training athletes. Stiff competition, mentoring, and professional level sports specific fitness training, gives Maui windsurfing athletes a great advantage.

Maui windsurfing legends: Maui’s best known windsurfer is Robbie Naish,  a 13x world windsurfing champion, who is also famous for his company Naish International based on Maui that make some of the worlds best water-sports equipment. Pete Cabrinha, who designed his own brand  windsurf gear, and his name is associated with top brands. Maui legends include, Francisco Goya, Jason Prior, Dave Kalama, Rush Randle, Mike Waltz, Laird Hamilton, Jason Polakow, Josh and Jason Stone, Mark Angulo, Josh Angulo, Rhonda Smith Sanchez, Kevin and Matt Pritchard,  Sean Ordonez, Jenna de Rosnay, Fred Hayward, Alan Cadiz, Alex Aguera, Robby Seeger, Phil McGain, and many more.

This impressive list can not be simply defined as windsurfing legends, because they are often masters of multiple sports disciplines. Many have created diverse careers including cross-over with other sports, created new hybrid sports, had successful endeavors, and adventures.

Famous designers and creative innovators include: Keith Teboul, Barry Spanier, Jimmy Lewis, Kai Hopf, Dave Mel, Dave Ezzy,

The Renaissance of Paia Towne: Back in the late 70’s Paia got a boost from the influx of windsurfers coming to Maui to experience the Maui Windsurfing lifestyle and culture, this helped the local economy and allowed Paia town to reemerge as a vibrant and bustling surf town. The surfing lifestyle economy saved Paia. Now as many of the windsurfers are growing more mature and responsible they are creating more long term businesses, including shops, factories, making gear, clothing, and restaurants. This has helped make made Paia a focal point for tourism creating many local jobs and business opportunities for the local community, and attracted other local companies to invest in Paia.

New generation of Maui Windsurfers: Many younger windsurfers got a start in Kids windsurfing camps at Kanaha Beach, which has been the nursery that has produced many current word champions, Kai Lenny, Connor Baxter, Ashley Baxter, Zane Schweitzer (Son of Matt Schweitzer, grandson of Hoyle Schweitzer, ), Harley Stone (pro windsurfer), Savannah Stone (pro surfer),  Pro-windsurfer Jake Miller, Bernd Roediger, just to mention a few

Maui Windsurfing Industry: Maui is at the forefront of design and innovation, many of the worlds top windsurfing equipment companies are either based here or design their gear here. This industry provides many jobs and careers for local people, and make an important contribution to Maui’s economy. Maui’s industry depends on reliable year round conditions for developing and testing new equipment. Kanaha Beach is a test bed where new prototypes and products are developed before being sold to the rest of the world. When a new product is ready for the market, you can often see the pro-sailors doing photo shoots at Kanaha Beach, This is when you see a bunch of windsurfers with a helicopter flying close overheard, they are shooting next years catalogue. Equipment testing at Kanaha Beach, is a common occurrence, all the new gear from all the manufacturers is a big deal, magazines and independent gear testers come to Kanaha from all over the world to test the latest ad greatest windsurfing gear. Not only gear made and designed on Maui, but from all over., The gear is out through its paces and thoroughly tested and compered to see which is the best, these results are published in magazines and websites, the results can really help the suggests of the different products as they will be sold to a very discerning world-wide market.

Maui Windsurf Equipment Companies: Maui Sails, Naish, Ezzy Sails, Goya sails, Goya Windsurfing, Hi Tech, Simmer Style, S2Maui Sails, DaKine, Sailboards Maui, Angulo Boards, Hot Sails Maui, Nelson Factory, Quatro Windsurfing, Tectonics Maui, SOS Shapes, Goya Windsurfing, Maui Fin Company, Black Project Fins, Naish Windsurfing.

Local Windsurfing Shops (and gear rentals):

Kanaha Windsurfing Schools:

Windsurfing Competitions:



Polynesian Wind Surfing History:

Windsurfing, as a sport and recreational activity, did not emerge until the latter half of the 20th century. But before this, there have been sailing boats of various designs that have used wind as the driving force for millennia, and Polynesians have been riding waves for many of them, undertaking day trips over oceans standing upright on a solid board with a vertical sail.[9]

WW2 history at Kanaha

WW2 history at Kanaha

WWII Artifacts at Kanaha:

World War 2 –  WWII, brought dramatic changes to Kanaha. the building of the NAS, Naval Air station in Kahului, aka “NASKa”.  (Now known as Kahului Airport – OGG). There are also coastal fortifications for artillery, as well as new roads, and recreational; facilities for the troops. Artifacts and evidence of our history are spread throughout the beach and dunes. Unfortunately there seems to have been no effort to preserve these artifacts and many are still undocumented. If you explore the area you will find many interesting and intriguing things.

Military on Maui during WWII: Maui was a huge training area for the military during the war. There were two major airfields, and camps and training areas all over the island.

Preserve our History: Please do not take away or disturb any artifacts as they are part of the historical record, and give us information about our recent history.

Here is a shoreline bunker, it was originally on land but shoreline erosion has caused it to be in the ocean.

(*Since before the war and up until the late 1970’s sand mining and sand removal continued in these areas for decades accelerating the beach loss).

This is what appears to be an artillery placement, and it is adjacent to a concrete bunker at Ka’a Point. Once it would have had a 270 degree view of the Kahului bay, but it is now surrounded by Kiawe trees.

This rusting collection of metal includes rails and rail wheels. Is it part of the same installation or is it something different? There is all kinds of metal pieces strewn all over this area, presumably from ww2 era equipment.

Here is a concrete bunker hidden in the dunes behind the beach.

WW2 Fighter Plane Wreck
WW2 Fighter Plane Wreck

Click Here to See the WW2 Era officers Club at Kanaha Beach © 2023
Plants of Kanaha

Plants of Kanaha

Where did the first plants come from:  One widely held theory believes that Hawaii sprang from the ocean as a volcanic peak, and eventually had permanent above water land area. It would have had occasional rainfall, and salt spray, and the inter-tidal shoreline would have been populated first with seaweed. But the land based plants had to get here from somewhere else. Maybe the first plants arrived here as seeds carried in high altitude air currents, microscopic fungus spores could travel this way too. Some seeds or living plant material were probably carried on the backs of birds, or in their bellies, and generously deposited in bird droppings. Some seeds can survive floating on the ocean, and come ashore on distant shores, like the Niu (coconut) which does this. The coconut (which is a seed) floats well and can survive for up to 4 months at sea and still germinate. It is an interesting feature of some plants that their seeds actually benefit from being in salt water for a period of time before germinating. Another mechanism for species distribution is the tsunami. Tsunamis can dislodge large trees, logs and floating debris from one location, a continent or island, and set it adrift. Large floating trees are floating rafts that could transport plant life, insects and maybe even small creatures like geckos. These processes take tens of thousands of years to build up a variety of plant life that we see in Hawaii today. After the first living creatures arrived they were kept in isolation to grow and evolve into unique versions of themselves. Species that landed on different Hawaiian islands would sometimes diverge and become entirely different species. Some species even evolved differently on different sides of a mountain ranges or on the different peaks, separated by valleys. Micro climates created micro ecosystems, that pushed diversity even further.

Polynesian introduced Plants: The first people to come to the islands were Polynesian voyagers, and they brought with them food supplies, and seedlings  plants and animals. The needed to be able to start a settlement and have the useful plants from their homeland available to them. Their Plants may have been intended for food, medicinal, functional, or even ceremonial use. We know that many Hawaiian plants have great utility and many different uses (see the list at end of this post). Polynesian plants are now distributed all over the pacific. Testimony to the success of Polynesian voyagers, and their ability to navigate and colonize distant lands.

Hawaiian Canoe Plants: The plants that the Polynesian voyagers brought with them in their canoes are sometimes called the “canoe plants”. Estimates of the number of different type plants brought to Hawaii by early Polynesians is thought to be around 32 species. There is some debate as to whether the first coconuts in Hawaii were here already, even though the Polynesians would have almost certainly brought them also. Several other species, like Milo, and Hau, Kou, which are widespread coastal species fairly common throughput Polynesia, might have also migrated here by themselves. The Canoe Plants include;`Ape, `Awa, `Awapuhi, Hau, Ipu, Kalo, Kamani, Ki, Ko, Kou, Kukui, Mai`a, Milo, Niu, Noni, `Ohe, `Ohi`a, `Ai, `Olena, Olona, Pia, `Uala, Uhi, `Ulu, Wauke.

Alien Species: All plants that were brought in by people are considered Alien species. The Polynesians introductions were also called “canoe plants” are well suited to the tropical climate and have been cultivated for hundreds of years. The arrival of Captain Cook in 1778, marks the beginning of the early European introductions. Cook deliberately planted several food new food species and brought in some animals too. Some other species may have arrived by accident. Weeds, plants, and seeds can travel on ships from foreign lands, and have a way of spreading wherever they go.

Native Plants impacted by Livestock: Captain Cook brought with him livestock and several plants species that he left here, and they changed the island biology for ever. Notably he left a gift of pigs and goats, with instructions that they be left alone and be allowed to multiply. These animals did multiply and ultimately ran wild. Feral Pigs and Goats started eating all types of native plants, and began causing soil erosion, and are implicated in including destroying most of the the Koa forests, along with other introduced livestock. Early livestock introductions included several types ungulates (cloven foot animals) including Goats, Pigs and Cattle. Today there an estimated 5000 exotic species in the Hawaiian Islands.

Early European Plant Introductions: Many early explorers collected plant specimens wherever they went to take back for study in their home countries. Captain Cook’s ship already had many species already on board booth collected on his previous ports of call and what he brought with him from England. Cook in his journal stated that seeds of; melons, pumpkins (cucurbita pepo), and onions (Allium cepa) were planted on his first visit in 1778.

Settlers and Traders: When traders, settlers, and travelers came to Hawaii they brought fruit trees, and ornamental plants for their gardens. Businessmen and entrepreneurs who wanted to farm here, brought in crops and plants that they wanted to farm here. And sometimes when those crops failed, more species and varieties of foreign plants were brought in and attempted to be used.

Cattle Ranchers: Ranchers introduced fountain grass, native to North Africa, and mullein. After 1905, they introduced kiawe as another cattle feed. Kiawe trees are a terrible blight on the Hawaiian landscape, they are thorny and unplesent trees that spread quickly and can survive in arid climates by sucking up every last drop of available water, usually at the expense of the other (native) plants surrounding them. Kiawe trees are slowly being eradicated at KKanaha and replaced with Better suited local and native trees. Suffice to say all of the plants that the cattle ranchers have introduced have long since run wild and are way out of control, as tenacious invasive species. And unfortunately the cycle is about to begin all over again as a new plant for cattle feed is about to be introduced into Maui’s ecosystem, “Sorghum”. There are plans to turn Maui’s former sugar cane fields into Sorghum fields. the sorghum is intended to be used as cattle feed. So this is how the cycle of another exotic species gets started, with little thought to the long term biological consequences.

Invasive Species & Biological Controls: Some crops and supplies brought in pests, insects and diseases. Biological controls were introduced to deal with pests and diseases. this lead to more alien species being released in the islands. Alien species have no natural enemies, here so that usually thrive and out compete native species, so a normal ornamental house plant from the mainland, would become a fast growing invasive weed here is a short time.

Supplying Sailing Ships: As Hawaii became a port of call for whaling and trading ships, there was a need to restock these ships with water and food. Whalers wanted more than the local diet of fish and poi, so there was a market for fruits and vegetables, and livestock.

Indigenous, Endemic, Endangered native Plants: There are many rare and endangered plants in Hawaii, they are under a lot of competition from exotics. There is a growing interest in Hawaiian native Plants, and a responsibility to ensure that they do not become extinct. More and more public parks, gardens, and open spaces are being returned to a more natural state. Exotic ornamental plants are gradually being replaced with native species. And also in the shoreline areas, we are using native species to help stabilize sand dunes and to prevent erosion and soil loss.

Specialized birds and bees need specific plants: Native plants have the added benefits of providing habitat for native insects and animal species. Many insects will only live on, and reproduce in specific native species. there is a lot of specialization among native species, and they need insects to pollinate the particular plant and the native insects and animals need a specific plant for food. There is also a newly discovered microbiology that is also discovered working in the soil and below ground, certain types of organisms need the dead parts of a specific plant to live, and in return supply nutrients back to the plant.

 This is a list of some of our favorite plants at Kanaha Beach, each plant is listed twice,once with the common name first, and than with the scientific name first:
Aalii (Dodonaea viscosa)  Native : Indigenous
AKIA (Wikstroemia uva-ursi)  Native : Endemic
Akiaki (Sporobolus virginicus)   Native : Indigenous
Aweoweo (Chenopodium oahuense)  Native : Endemic
Beach pea, nanea (Vigna marina)  Native : Indigenous
Chenopodium oahuense (Aweoweo)  Native : Endemic
Coconut palm, niu (Cocos nucifera)  Non-Native : Polynesian
Cocos nucifera (Coconut palm, niu)  Non-Native : Polynesian
Cordia subcordata (Kou)  Native : Indigenous
Cordyline fruticosa (Ti leaf, ki)  Non-Native : Polynesian
Dodonaea viscosa (Aalii)   Native : Indigenous
Dwarf naupaka (Scaevola coriacea)  Native : Endemic
Erythrina sandwicensis (WILIWILI)  Native : Endemic
Gossypium tomentosum (Mao, Hawaiian cotton) Native : Endemic
Heliotropium anomalum var. argenteum (Hinahina, hinahina ku kahakai, nohonohopuuone, pohinahina) Hina Hina
Hibiscus brackenridgei (Mao hau hele)  Native : Endemic
Hibiscus ovalifolius (Rock’s hibiscus)  Non-Native : Naturalized
Hibiscus ovalifolius (Rock’s hibiscus)  Non-Native : Naturalized
IHI (Portulaca lutea) Native : Indigenous
IHI (Portulaca Molokiniensis)  Native : Endemic
IHI (Portulaca villosa) Endemic
ILIAHI ALOE (Santalum ellipticum)  Native : Endemic (Iliahialoe, coast sandalwood)
Ilima (Sida fallax)  Native : Indigenous
Ipomoea indica (Koali awa)   Native : Indigenous
Ipomoea pes-caprae (POHUEHUE)
Ipomoea pes-caprae subsp. brasiliensis (Pohuehue, beach morning glory)
Jacquemontia ovalifolia (PAU O HIIAKA) Endemic
Jacquemontia sandwicensis (Pau o Hiiaka) Native : Endemic
Koali awa (Ipomoea indica)  Native : Indigenous
KOU (Cordia subcordata)   Native : Indigenous
Lycium sandwicense (OHELO KAI)   Native : Indigenous
MAO (Gossypium tomentosum)  Native : Endemic  (Hawaiian cotton)
Mao hau hele (Hibiscus brackenridgei)  Native : Endemic
MILO (Thespesia populnea)   Native : Indigenous?
Myoporum sandwicense (Naio)   Native : Indigenous
Naio (Myoporum sandwicense)   Native : Indigenous
Nama sandwicensis (Hinahina kahakai)  Native?
Nanea, Beach pea (Vigna marina)  Indigenous
NAUPAKA (Scaevola taccada)   Native : Indigenous
Nicotaina Glauca (Tree Tobacco) status = Non-native Invasive, (But it is an important Host plant, for endangered moth)
Niu, Cocos nucifera   Non-Native : Polynesian
OHAI (Sesbania tomentosa)   Native : Endemic
OHELO KAI (Lycium sandwicense)   Native : Indigenous
PAU O HIIAKA (Jacquemontia ovalifolia) Endemic
POHINAHINA (Vitex rotundifolia)  Native : Indigenous
POHUEHUE (Ipomoea pes-caprae)
POPOLO (Solanum nelsonii)   Native : Endemic
Portulaca lutea (Ihi)  Native : Indigenous
Portulaca Molokiniensis (IHI)  Native : Endemic
Portulaca villosa (IHI) Endemic
Santalum ellipticum (ILIAHI ALOE)   Native : Endemic
Scaevola coriacea (Dwarf naupaka)  Native : Endemic
Scaevola taccada (Naupaka)   Native : Indigenous
Sesbania tomentosa (OHAI)   Native : Endemic
Sida fallax (Ilima)  Native : Indigenous
Solanum nelsonii (Popolo) Native : Endemic
Sporobolus virginicus (Akiaki)   Native : Indigenous
Thespesia populnea (MILO)    Native : Indigenous?
Tournefortia argentea (Tree heliotrope)   Non-Native : Naturalized
Tree Heliotrope (Tournefortia argentea)   Non-Native : Naturalized
Tree Tobacco (Nicotiana Glauca)   status?? Introduced : Invasive (host plant for endangered Blackburn Moth)
Uhaloa (Waltheria indica)   Native : Indigenous?
Vigna marina (Beach pea, nanea)  Native : Indigenous
Vitex rotundifolia (Pohinahina)   Native : Indigenous
Vitex trifolia (Vitex) Non-native : cultivated  (?Misidentified pohinahina?)
Waltheria indica (Uhaloa)   Native : Indigenous?
Wikstroemia uva-ursi (Akia)  Native : Endemic
WILIWILI (Erythrina sandwicensis)  Native : Endemic
Native = This means they are natural to the area, they are from here.
Indigenous =  a species is defined as indigenous to a given region or ecosystem if its presence in that region is the result of only natural process, with no human intervention.
Endemic = Endemic means they are found nowhere else. Endemic means exclusively native to the biota of a specific place.
Polynesian = Polynesian plants were brought here by Hawaii’s first settlers. Also known as the “Canoe Plants”.
Cultivated = Cultivated plants are used deliberately, but may have escaped into the wild.
Alien = Alien plants got here after first contact, usually defined as 1778 the arrival of Captain Cook.
Endangered = Endangered plants are low in number so that the species is threatened. They have special legal protection too.


Interesting Etymology:

The species name sandwicensis refers to the “Sandwich Islands,” as the Hawaiian Islands were once called, and named by James Cook on one of his voyages in the 1770s. James Cook named the islands after John Montagu (The fourth Earl of Sandwich) for supporting Cook’s voyages.

Ilima Papa plant at Kanaha Beach
Ilima Papa at Kanaha Beach


Scaevola taccada (Naupaka)
Naupaka (Scaevola taccada)


KAUNAOA (Cuscuta sandwichiana)
KAUNAOA (Cuscuta sandwichiana)


 Tournefortia argentea (Tree heliotrope)
Tournefortia argentea (Tree heliotrope)


Sesuvium portulacastrum (Akulikuli, sea purslane)
Sesuvium portulacastrum (Akulikuli, sea purslane)


ILIAHI ALOE (Santalum ellipticum)
ILIAHI ALOE (Santalum ellipticum) at Kanaha Beach


A sample of seeds that regularly wash ashore at Kanaha beach


Anapanapa (colubrina asiatica)


MAO (Gossypium tomentosum)
MAO (Gossypium tomentosum) at Kanaha Beach


Ornamental Hibiscus (non-native) eastern Kanaha Park


Here is a PDF of Kanaha Plants from Hear with some pictures:

Here is a link to the Canoe Plants website:

Uses for Hawaiian Plants:

* Polynesian Introduced Scientific Name: Cocos nucifer Hawaiian Name Niu This is probably  both the most recognizable palm tree and Hawaiian plant in the world.  The  Hawaiians used this plants’ fronds extensively for weaving.  The fruit can also be eaten, in green form as a jello, or brown form as a tough meat.  Incredibly, the … Continue reading →
*Polynesian Introduced Scientific Name: Cordyline terminalis Hawaiian Names: Ki, Ti This plant was another introduction by the Hawaiians  to  Hawaii.  They used the Ti plant had a wide range of uses, ranging from, wrappings for food, thatching, medical purposes,  plates, and clothes.  The plant also was considered sacred to the god of agriculture ( Lono) … Continue reading →
* Polynesian Introduced Scientific Name: Colocasia esculent Hawaiian Name: Kalo This plant represented the God Kane who the Hawaiians considered the creator of all life. The tuber provided that life for the Hawaiians, because of it’s use as by far the common staple of Hawaiian diet. Taro is purple potato like starch that was often … Continue reading →
* Polynesian Introduced Scientific Name: Hibiscus tiliaceus Hawaiian Name  Hau The Hau plants normally looks like a twisting mess of curved branches and 5 pedaled flowers. These curved branches were often used in creating outriggers for canoes due to it’s shape and light weight. The plant was and still is very common and it’s bark … Continue reading →
* polynesian introduced Scientific Name: Pandanus tectorius Hawaiian Name: Hala, Pu Hala This plant is easily recognizable through its droopy leaves and the pineapple like appearance of it’s fruit. The mangrove like bottoms allows the hala to filter out small amounts of salt water and survive well on the coastline. The Hawaiians main use of … Continue reading →
* Polynesian Introduced Scientific Name: Broussonetia papyrifer Hawaiian Name: Wauke The Hawaiians did not have cotton or mammal hair to weave cloth so instead they relied or bark cloth(Kapa). The Wauke was the primary plant he Hawaiians used for making such cloth.  They used Kapa and the Wauke for bedding, ceremonies, clothes, and wrapping the … Continue reading →
*Polynesian introduced Scientific Name: Pittosporum hosmeri Hawaiian Name Aleurites moluccana This common plant has distinct light colored leaves that help this plant stand out in a forest. Its Hawaiian translation is ” light” because it’s seeds were extensively burned due to its high oil content. The spreading crushed nuts in small ponds helped increase visibility … Continue reading →
Scientific name Touchardia latifolia Hawaiian Name Olona The Hawaiians specifically cultivated this plant for its cordage.  It has now been found to be one of the strongest natural fibers in the world. The Hawaiians stripped and soaked the inner bark into cordage for use in fishing lines, attaching adz heads to handles, weapons and repair.
Scientific Name: Acacia koa Hawaiian Name: Koa This iconic plant is known for it’s sickle shaped leaves, but is often confused with Australian eucalypts which  is very similar. To tell the difference one can break a leaf  off and see if it smells like eucalyptus or grass. Hawaiians actually used the elepaio bird to check … Continue reading →


Dune plant habitat at Kanaha

Dune plant habitat at Kanaha

NATIVE PLANTS: native Plants include, indigenous, endemic and endangered species. native plants have persisted despite competition from invasive species. Re-vegetation programs, and weed control have brought back the flora to near pristine condition in many areas. Native plants are b Volunteer waters native plants (Ma'o = native cotton plant) at Kanaha Beach restoration project area.est suited to the dry coastal environment and once established thrive here. Natives provide an important part of the coastal ecosystem, Stabilizing dunes, trapping moisture, shading the ground, habitat and food source for native insects and fauna. Kanaha’s established flora has become a repository for many species. Seeds are collected here for the reforestation projects on the island of Kaho’olawe and other areas. Indigenous plants are used in traditional Lei making, and for medicine and other practical purposes. Native plant destruction from off-road beach driving has been reduced and controlled with the addition of  beach fences and designated driveways and parking areas. The efforts of many hard working volunteers have made all the difference in the revival of Kanaha’s Flora over the years. To ensure that Kanaha’s natural beauty will be preserved for future generations.

Indigenous and endemic Native Species: These plants occur naturally in Hawaii, either migrating here as seeds floating on  the ocean, or carried by birds and wind. The endemic plants have evolved into unique species that are found nowhere else in the world. Many plants are endangered because of the destruction to their natural habitat. Some of the endemic/endangered plants at Kanaha are species unique to Maui. In some cases there are only several hundred individual plants of a single species remaining in the wild, therefore every individual plant is important for the perpetuation of the species.

Indigenous or endemic plants at Kanaha include: Iliahialoe (Santalum ellipticum), Naupaka (Scaevola sericea), Dwarf Naupaka (Scaevola coriacea), Pohuehue (Ipomoea pes-caprae subsp. brasiliensis), (ipomoea_indica), Pohinahina (Vitex rotundifolia), Akia (Wikstroemia uva-ursi), Ilima papa (sida fallax), Nehe (Lipochaeta integrifolia),  Nama (Nama sandwicensis) Aeae (Bacopa monnieri), Ihi (portulaca_lutea, portulaca molokiniensis),  Wiliwili (Erythrina sandwicensis), Loulu (Pritchardia sp.), Popolo (Solanum nelsonii), Hinahina (Heliotropium anomalum var. argenteum), Nena (Heliotropium curassavicum), Ohai (Sesbania tomentosa), Naio (Myoporum sandwicense).

Hawaiian (Polynesian) Traditional Plants: It is believed that this group of plants were first brought to Hawaii by the early Polynesian settlers hundreds of years ago. Chants and oral history tell how these highly valued plants were brought along on the original sailing-canoe voyages from (Tahiti). The best known examples include, Milo (Thespesia populnea), Hau (Hibiscus tiliaceus), Kou (Cordia subcordata ), Ti leaf (Cordyline fruticosa), Taro (), Coconut (Niu)  Hala tree (Pandanus tectorus). These trees are considered sacred to Hawaiians and have many uses in traditional culture. The living plant, the wood, sap, leaves, roots, fruits and flowers may be used in a variety of ways. Some woods are used in canoe building, fish-trap making, tools, and sacred objects. The spiny leaves of the Hala tree called “Lau hala” were made into cloth by weaving. The flowers of certain plants have medicinal properties, and the flowers, seeds, sap and bark are sometimes used to make dyes.

Sea-life at Kanaha

Sea-life at Kanaha

Turtles live year round in the waters off Kanaha, some will Honu is Hawaiian for Turtle. occasionally come ashore to build nests and lay eggs. If you see a turtle hauled out on the beach stay away from it and let it rest. If you see a turtle’s nest do not disturb it. It is best if you can report its location to the lifeguards so that they can protect it from harm. Turtle species we see at Kanaha include some endangered species such as the Green sea turtle, Hawksbill, and Leatherback. Turtles (Honu) do their part eating algae and some species will eat jellyfish. Unfortunately they occasionally eat trash (perhaps mistaking plastic bags for jellyfish) and get sick.

When enjoying water sports, paddling or windsurfing etc, please keep an eye out for Turtles in the water and do everything you can to avoid them. Respect them in their home, and actively avoid disturbing them in any way.

Marine mammals you can see at Kanaha include:

  • The Hawaiian monk seal (`Ilio-holo-i-ka-uaua.),
  • Dolphins (spinner, bottlenose, and spotted) (Nai’a in Hawaiian) and
  • Whales (Kohola).

All marine mammals are protected from harm or harassment in Hawaiian waters. Do not approach a marine mammal or attempt to interfere with them in any way.

SHARKS (Mano) species include, Grey (Mano), Whitetip reef (Mano lalakea), hammerhead, and Tiger shark (Niuhi). Occasionally Hawaiian waters are home to the Whale Shark (which is more shark than whale). Sharks rarely attack humans, however you should always use caution when entering the ocean. Never go into the ocean if you are cut or bleeding. Stay away from dead fish, fishermen, nets. Stay away from streams and rivers especially after rain, and when the water is murky from rainfall runoff. Do not swim too far from shore, alone or at night. Do not enter the water if there has been a shark sighting. Follow warning signs and directives of the lifeguards. If you see a shark while swimming, swim calmly to shore, do not splash excessively, and try to keep your eye on the shark at all times.

Cats at Kanaha

Cats at Kanaha

Feral Cats (are abundant in the coastal areas. Most of the cats you see are part of cat communities set up by the humane society. Individual cats have been captured then spayed or neutered to prevent further breeding. Then they are released into one of several “communities” where they are monitored and fed by volunteers. Cat communities are a humane alternative to the immediate destruction of wild cats. Sadly people continue to dump their unwanted pets at Kanaha, so the animals are victims of this man-made problem. Many cats from Kanaha Beach are rescued and taken to the shelter where they are adopted into new homes. This important work is done by volunteers, and members of the Maui Humane Society. If you want a new pet, please adopt one from the MHS,

Mongoose on Maui

Mongoose on Maui

Mongoose (Herpestes javanicus) were introduced to help control rats. They now run wild all over the island, they probably do more harm to bird species than any rats. Mongoose move very fast and are usually shy, Most people will catch a fleeting glimpse of one when they dart in to the bushes at the edge of the roadway. In several camping areas mongoose have become emboldened and less wary of Man. They will stroll around the campgrounds looking for food scraps. The mongooses found in Hawai’i are native to India and were originally introduced to the Hawaiian Islands in 1883 by the sugar industry to control rats in sugarcane fields on Maui, Moloka’i and O’ahu.

Beach Sand Mining on Maui’s north shore

Beach Sand Mining on Maui’s north shore

Sand Removal and Sand Mining: The main reason we have beach loss today is the fact that too much sand was taken off the beaches for commercial use. Beach Sand was used in the construction industry, but mostly for sugar cane production, and agriculture. Sand was removed from the beaches and nearshore systems for decades. Beach Sand was used as aggregate for construction, and also turned into lime. Lime is used to make concrete, used as a fertilizer, and is used an additive in the sugar cane production process. The coral sand was burned in a rotary kiln to produce lime.

Lime Kiln at Paia: HC&S ran a Lime Kiln in Paia for over 70 years harvesting sand from the adjacent beach at Baldwin Beach. The Paia Lime kiln was the only lime kiln operation in the nation to be using coral sand as a feed stock for their facility. The huge amount of sand removed from the beaches in that time has caused tremendous environmental damage, and has long lasting consequences that we are still experiencing today.

Here are some quotes from the 1961 Mineral Year Book:

Coral Sand mining on Maui to feed Paia lime kiln

and this one,

Beach Sand Mining on Maui

Sand removed from Kaa Beach:  Sand was also harvested from Kaa Beach which has never been replaced. The sandy beaches at Kanaha Littoral cell were historically much wider and the degradation we see today is a result was from over-exploitation of the finite sand resource by the Sugar Industry.

Beach Sand Mining is now illegal: In the mid to late 70’s the State of Hawaii passed laws that outlaw the removal of beach sand. However the damage to the beach environment has already been done. We are still seeing the effects of this damage decades later.

Beach restoration is possible: There has already been a lot of studies by State and Maui County that say that Kanaha Beach and other Maui beaches could (and should) be restored by replenishing sand stocks, from either land-based or offshore sand sources. But sadly there is no plans to do a beach replenishment project at Kanaha Beach. A sand supplementation, “beach nourishment” project would be a great assist to Kanaha Beach.

There have been several beach restoration projects around Maui: Restoration projects include inside the Kahului harbor on the eastern beach in front of the Maui Coast Hotel, Sugar Cove beach on north Shore, Stable Road beach 1/2 mile east of Kanaha Beach, The beach west of the KWWTP 1/4 mile west of Kanaha Beach, and several beaches in Kihei. But it is a very long time-consuming process to get the studies and all the permits, and the financing. Currently Kahana Beach on the upper west side of Maui (not to be confused with “Kanaha”) has been waiting for 11 years to get its badly needed restoration project going, and it is still going through the red tape.

Read More about Sand Loss Issues on Maui here.

County park officials mull access fees

County park officials mull access fees

Free entry for everyone at Maui County parks could become a thing of the past.

Last week, the county Cost of Government Commission heard a suggestion to charge park entry fees for visitors and businesses from Vice Chairwoman Annie Alvarado.

“I thought it was something we should have a discussion about,” she said Thursday at a regular commission meeting.

The commission is an advisory panel that reviews existing county procedures and recommends improvements. The Maui County Council would need to approve park entrance fees.

The state charges parking fees at Iao Valley State Monument (although that has been closed following massive flooding in September), and the National Parks Service imposes an entry fee at Haleakala National Park. There are other park entry fees in the state. There’s a $7.50 entry fee at Hanauma Bay on Oahu, although state residents, active members of the military and children 12 years old and younger are free.

County Department of Parks and Recreation Director Ka’ala Buenconsejo said the idea of charging an entry fee at some parks isn’t new.

“It’s always been a conversation that is ongoing,” he told commissioners during a meeting in the mayor’s conference room in the Kalana O Maui Building.

Park fees for services such as rental of community centers and gymnasiums are deposited in the county’s general fund, he said.

If the county were to charge park entry fees, a likely place to start would be at Kanaha Beach Park, a popular and world-renowned windsurfing and kitesurfing beach near Kahului Airport, Buenconsejo said.

The park’s master plan calls for building a guard shack where entry fees could be collected as vehicles pass through.

(Maui News 12/11/16)