There aren’t many hiking trails that begin on one of America’s best beaches. If you’re visiting Lanai, however, you can explore the Kapihaa Fisherman’s Trail that departs from top ranked Hulopoe Bay.
Departing from the sand of Hulopoe Bay, the Kapihaa Fisherman’s Trail is a half-mile long coastal trail that hugs the rocky shoreline. It passes ancient Hawaiian cultural sites that are marked with interpretive placards, and offers views looking back at the golden sands of Hulopoe Bay. It’s a great alternative to snorkeling or swimming, and makes for an especially rewarding adventure on days when Hawaiian spinner dolphins are splashing just feet from the trail.
Prior to the arrival of Westerners on Lanai, this section of coast was home to a population of at least several hundred fishermen, who in turn were part of a larger group inhabiting the Palawai Basin. The fishermen were responsible for many tasks, from hauling in fish and crafting handmade lures, to collecting salt on the rocks to store and preserve the fish.
Though the village sites were eventually abandoned in the early 1800’s, hikers can still find evidence of the village along every step of the path. Today at least 60 different historical features dot the trail. On either side of the trail, visitors will notice rocks that were stacked to form the foundation of single-room homes. In addition, there are remnants of heiau (temples), terraces, and shrines that were used for worship, cultivating food, and sustaining life in the village.
Despite being relatively short in length, the Kapihaa Fisherman’s Trail still requires closed toed shoes and a moderate degree of fitness. There’s no shade on this sun-bleached coast, so be sure to wear sunscreen, try to avoid hiking in the very middle of the day, and pack plenty of water.