Modern-day Kilauea Lighthouse / Bob Linsdell, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Modern-day Kilauea Lighthouse / Bob Linsdell, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Ancient Hawaii's First Lighthouse

Shaka Guide

Listen to audio story here:

Well done folks! We are on our way to our next stop, the Kilauea lighthouse. 

Ok. Now that we are on the topic of lighthouses, here’s a million dollar question for you. You ready? True or false: ancient Hawaiians had lighthouses long before Europeans discovered Hawaii. The answer is… true! Great job for getting that one right, but sorry brah, I don’t have one million dollars to give you, but I do have an interesting story for you. Here it is. 

An ancient Hawaiian oral legend says that hundreds of years ago, there lived a tribe of short and strong people called the Menehune here on Kauai. The Menehune fishermen would paddle all day, far from the island, chasing the biggest fish they could find. However, oftentimes they would still be out fishing  after sunset. Without light, they couldn’t find their safe harbor to land their canoes. This happened night after night, until finally one cold night the chief was warming himself near the fire when his wife accidentally lit a kukui nut on fire.

As the chief watched a burning kukui nut flame, he suddenly jumped up with a brilliant idea! He would string a lot of kukui nuts together, like a lei, creating a long burning source of light. Then he would hang this lei of fire at the shore, to direct the fishing boats safely into the harbor, kinda like a lighthouse of sorts, right? These kukui nuts became the first lighthouses of ancient Hawaii called Maka-ihu-wa’a.

Interested? Listen to more on our North Shore Kauai Tour!

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