You can just feel the mana, or power, when driving by Makua Valley. Even though it’s inaccessible to the public today, the valley is still very much a visible part of Oahu’s northwestern shore. It’s also still very much alive with Hawaiian culture and history.

Hawaiians believed it to be the site where man was first created; hence, the name makua, meaning “parent” in Hawaiian.They also considered the valley as a place where spirits entered the afterworld. If you look up along the rocky cliffs, you’ll see a handful of memorials made in honor of those who have passed.

But perhaps one of Makua’s most significant roles in Hawaiian history was as a rest stop for travelers. Visitors on their way to Kaena Point would land their canoes on the sandy beach directly in front of the valley, where they’d spend the night. Spanning more than 4,000 acres across the coast, Makua had plenty of room to spare.

Today, it is home to more than 40 endangered species of plants and animals and sites sacred to Native Hawaiians. These include a fishing shrine and the Kamuakuopio Heiau, which is now just a raised sand platform and two piles of large stones.

There used to be many more archaeological sites, but like Kamuakuopio heiau, have been damaged or destroyed completely. From the 1930s to 2004, part of the valley had been used by the U.S. military for live-fire training exercises. Needless to say, this drew much controversy by the community, who fought to save Makua Valley.

In 2004, environmentalists, Hawaiians and community members did, in fact, save the valley. A lawsuit against the U.S. government spared the valley from artillery. Today, however, the question remains: How do we manage Hawaii’s precious resources for the greatest public good?

In the meantime, take time to experience the valley for yourself – even if it’s from the roadside or beach. You, too, will feel the deep spiritual essence and mana it possesses.

MAKUA VALLEY• Waianae, HI 96791

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