Set in the shadow of the Haleakala Volcano and the West Maui Mountains, this lovely wildlife sanctuary in Kahului between the harbor and the airport was formerly a fishpond for the Hawaiian monarchy. According to legend the stone for the walls of Kanaha Pond was passed from hand-to-hand all the way to the site. Kanaha Pond now serves as an important breeding area for endangered Hawaiian waterbirds including the tall and pink-legged Hawaiian black-necked stilt, the brown Koloa duck, and the white-billed Hawaiian coot. Migratory waterbirds such as Canadian geese also stop here during their annual journeys south each winter. In all more than 90 bird species are seen at Kanaha Pond including teals, wigeons, dowitchers, sandpipers, plovers and more.
Kanaha Pond is thought to have been built in the 1700s by the island’s ruler Kapiiohookalani to raise and fatten fish. The pond produced large quantities of mullet until the early 1900s though in the following decades the whole area was severely degraded by surrounding industries and development including the dredging of Kahului Harbor. Kanaha Pond Wildlife Sanctuary was formally designated as a bird refuge in 1951 and then became a registered national natural landmark in 1971.
Need To Know
Admission to the Pond is free. No swimming or fishing is allowed. Near the main gate to Kanaha Pond is a small birdwatching platform.
Near Kahului Airport, take Amala Road which fronts the ocean near Kahului Harbor. Near the entrance gate to the Sanctuary is a small, paved parking lot. See map.