Menehune Fishpond or Alekoko Fishpond is located just up from Nawiliwili Harbor on the southeast side of Kauai. This ancient, 39 acre freshwater pond was constructed by building a 4 foot wide, 5 foot tall, and 900 foot long wall of carefully placed lava rocks along the banks of the Hule'ia River. A wooden gate in the wall allowed fish from the river to enter the pond which became trapped as they grew, providing an important food source for the ancient peoples tending it.
Hawaiian Legend says that the fishpond was built in one night by magical little people called Menehune. A chief asked the little people to build the pond and they did this by passing stones, man to man, from a source that was 25-miles away. When they stopped work, they all washed their bloodied hands in the water causing the water to turn red. The Hawaiian word Alekoko means "bloody ripples" or "rainbow-hued ripples" and the fishpond became known as Alekoko.
Exactly who built Menehune Fishpond and when is a little complicated. The fishpond is believed to be between 580 and 1000 years old. It is generally believed that the islands were settled first by Polynesians from the Marquesas Islands between 300 - 800 CE (AD). A second migration from Tahiti arrived around 1300 CE and it is believed that these larger Tahitians eventually overran the islands forcing the smaller inhabitants into the mountains and eventual extinction. The word "menehune" is probably derived from the older Tahitian word "manahune" meaning "lower class" "small in social standing" or "commoner." As these aboriginal "little" people disappeared, stories about them were exaggerated into legend.
Menehune Fishpond is in Trouble. Although Alekoko has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1973, the fishpond is on property that is privately owned and hasn't been in use as a fishpond since the death of Kauai's King Kaumuali'i in 1824. Sadly, it has been deteriorating. The rock wall, an engineering marvel considering when it was built, is threatened by Mangrove trees which now cover it and the pond itself is filling up with silt. It is estimated that it will be completely silted up in as little as 30 years. Unless steps are taken to preserve it, this historic fishpond will become a marsh. The property was offered for sale in 2005 for $12 million dollars (article), but there were no offers.
Directions to Menehune Fishpond: Alekoko, or "Menehune Fishpond" can be seen from an overlook along Hulemalu Road. Take Rice Street in Lihue east toward the harbor and Kalapaki Beach. Follow Nawiliwili Road south for .3 miles and turn left onto Niumalu Road for .6 miles. Take a slight right onto Hulemalu Road and follow up the hill for .6 miles. There is a small pull-out in the road with some information signs explaining the fishpond.
From Poipu Beach head north on Hoowili Rd toward Poipu Rd for .2 miles. Turn left onto Poipu Road for 1.1 miles. At the traffic circle, take the 2nd exit onto Ala Kalanikaumaka Road for 1.7 miles. Turn left onto HI-530/Koloa Road for 262 feet. Take the first right onto Omao Road for 2.1 miles. Turn right onto HI-50 E/Kaumualii Highway for 5.8 miles. Turn right onto Kipu Road for .1 miles. Continue onto Aakukui Road for .2 miles. Slight left onto Hulemalu Road/New Hulemalu Road for .4 miles. Continue onto Old Hulemalu Road for 1.0 miles. Continue straight onto Haiku Rd for 469 feet. Continue onto Hulemalu Road. Turnout is on the right side of the road in 1.8 miles.
Pictures and Comments By Doug Porter