(Editor's Note: This blog deals only with the Maha'u'lepu Beach area near the Gillian House and at the end of the gated, bumpy dirt road near the old quarry. A later blog will cover the Maha'u'lepu Trail the starts near Shipwreck's Beach at the Hyatt and traverses the calcified sand dunes adjacent to the golf course).
Mahaulepu’s name comes from a legendary battle that occurred in the 1300’s when Kalaunuio Hua, a Big Island ruler, made an attempt to take over all the Hawaiian islands. Kalaunuio Hua and his men paddled to Kauai, drew up on Maha'u'lepu Beach and began to form themselves into fighting order.Kukona, then ruling chief of Kauai, appeared on the ridge above the gathering. Kalaunuio Hua hurried to meet Kukona, but when he got there Kukona could not be found. Kukona, who now stood on a neighboring ridge, challenged Kalaunuio Hua which prompted a chase inland, further away from the beach. When the invading warriors reached Wahiawa (near Kalaheo), Kukona and his army attacked the tired warriors and defeated them easily. By nightfall, it was evident that Kalaunuio Hua had lost the battle and became a prisoner to Kukona. Thus began the historical distinction of Kauai as an island that was never conquered. The home on this beach was established by a Koloa Sugar Plantation civil engineer in the mid 1900s, Elbert Gillin. Destroyed in 1992 by hurricane Iniki, the “Gillin House” was re-built shortly after and continues to be owned by the Gillin family heirs.
Maha'u'lepu Beach is an ideal spot for walking, sunning, swimming, surfing, windsurfing, kite surfing and snorkeling. Monk seals often haul out on the beach after a meal and appear like big dead rocks with flippers and snouts. Please don't disturb these gentle giants -- they will bite!
The best place to snorkel is at the bay area at the end of the road. Also, there are trails that lead further along the coast where you can stand on top of ancient cliffs where the waves explode in clouds of salt spray. The black mountain in the background is Ha'upu, the same dragon-backed ridge that is visible in Lihue, Nawiliwili and while traversing Kau'muali'i Highway (Route 50).