Surely, like most everywhere else, Hawaii has a lot of rocks. But there’s a certain “Black Rock” on Maui that sticks out from the others. One that not only serves as an island attraction but also as an important part of the Hawaiian culture.

Black Rock is a rocky outcrop at the north end of Kaanapali Beach that has become a popular leaping pad for youngsters, who cannonball into the deep blue sea below. I remember jumping off of this rock as a kid and getting an instant feeling of gratification. Always being the petite one of the bunch, it felt good to keep up with the big kids for once. But little did I know, the jump is actually considered the “bunny slope” of cliff jumping. Well, by most of the locals, anyway. There are few obstacles in the way, and the leap itself is fairly close to the surface.

It’s almost ironic that centuries ago, wandering spirits were doing the same thing as today’s youngsters – except not for pleasure purposes. According to legend, Hawaiians believed this area to be a “leaping point” into the spirit world. Leina a kauhane (meaning “leap of the soul”) may exist anywhere throughout the islands, as a place where souls leave Earth by leaping into the spirit world. Oftentimes, according to legend, it’s because these unlucky spirits couldn’t be shown the way to the “other side” by their family aumakua (guardian spirit, mostly in animal form).

Hawaiian history also tells the tale of how Maui’s last ruling chief jumped from this rock, which – back then – wasn’t considered to be a “bunny slope.” Everyone admired King Kahekili for his athleticism and his ability to jump into the ocean with such power, such mana. And Black Rock on Maui was his favorite place to do that. It’s where he wowed all who watched with his impressive maneuvers through the air and into the ocean.

BLACK ROCK • Popular spot to cliff jump into ocean • Far north end of Kaanapali Beach, Maui

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