Long before it was exposed to the warm Hawaiian sun, the Makawehi Lithified Cliffs were formed over centuries of steady pressure from the layers of sediment and crushing ocean depths. Upon emerging above the ocean surface, it was subject to centuries of further erosion by winds, seas, and rain, the result on prominent display in southern Kaua‘i. The cliffs are both a sacred site to native Hawaiians and a natural monument to the persistence of time. Located on the eastern edge of Shipwreck Beach in Poipu, these towering ancient limestone cliffs are the backdrop for short scenic oceanside hikes that offer plenty of interesting geology to explore, and beautiful panoramas of the Pacific Ocean. Perfect for a quick hike, an afternoon of exploring, or a vantage point for an amazing sunset after an action-packed day, this natural wonder is exciting for the whole family.
Made of compressed layers of limestone and sandstone, the building blocks of the Makawehi Lithified Cliffs in Poipu were laid down centuries ago. Over the eons, wave action eroded rock and coral and laid the fragments down in layers of sediment. As the layers accumulated on top of each other, they were compacted and cemented, preserving pristine fossils of marine organisms along the way. When sea levels dropped, the undersea cliffs were exposed, remaining visible to this day.
Exploring the Makawehi Lithified Cliffs
Located above Shipwreck Beach in south Kaua‘i, the Makawehi Lithified Cliffs is a sprawling landscape of rolling dunes and rocky cliffs overlooking the pounding surf of the Pacific. Easily explored on foot, this network of unmarked trails allows visitors to wander this fascinating and rare geology on foot, to their heart’s content. While the initial climb might be steep for some, the hiking is suitable for all ages and skill levels. Search for fossils while you walk amongst sacred ancient Hawaiian sites, beautiful seaside shrubs, and flowering naupakapaka. Watch fishermen practice traditional net and shore fishing on the rocks below, and enjoy spectacular sunsets. If you venture out to the point, you will be rewarded with incredible 270-degree views of the island’s southern shore and the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean.
Located in Poipu, Makawehi is a short hike up from Shipwreck Beach. Take Highway 50 from Hanapēpē, then Highway 520 to Poipu; then, turn right on Koloa Road and left on Poipu Road. Pass the Grand Hyatt Resort and the Poipu Bay Golf Course and you will arrive at the parking lot for Shipwreck Beach. On average, driving times are about 85 minutes from Princeville and 25 minutes from Līhu‘e.
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