There are places in Hawaii that are naturally beautiful, and there are places where natural beauty is fused with Hawaiian history.
Such is the case at Kapuaiwa Coconut Grove, located west of Kaunakakai, where hundreds of rustling, sky-piercing palms are planted just steps from the sea. You can’t miss them when driving the highway past humble, historic Church Row, as the sheer mass of trunks and palms is reason enough to stop.
Planted back in the 1860s during the reign of Kamehameha V, Kapuaiwa Coconut Grove has been gradually reduced from 1,000 trees to the few hundred that remain. As trees grew old and fell to the ground they were slowly replaced by new ones, with multiple generations of palms having grown on this very ground.
Of course the staggering volume of palms is impressive, but so is the height of some of the trunks. In fact, in 2012, two trees took home titles for tallest palms in the National Big Trees Competition. They are so tall, it is difficult to capture their height in the frame of a single photo.
Despite the area’s beauty, however, resist the urge to go for a stroll beneath the cluster of palms. Falling coconuts present a real hazard, and subterranean punawai, or springs, have made the ground unstable. The best way to appreciate the grove is by simply admiring the view from afar, whether standing alongside the road by Church Row, or walking the shoreline at Kiowea Beach Park and viewing the palms from the sand. While the grove has experienced some disrepair, and is nowhere as large as it once was in the days of Kamehameha V, modern efforts are underway to protect the grove from misuse, with hopes of protecting its natural beauty and preserving the respect it deserves.