Tucked away in the lush, green depths of Kaluanui valley
on O‘ahu’s windward coast, far from the hustle and noise of
Honolulu, lies a place both tranquil and beautiful. Ancient
Hawaiians named it Kaliuwa‘a, known today as Sacred Falls.
The Hawaiian word Kaliuwa‘a is two words, “Kaliu,” and “wa‘a,”
meaning, “leaking canoe.” The valley’s name comes from Hawaiian
folklore about a mischievous Polynesian demigod called Kamapua‘a
who can take the shape of a man, a pig, a giant pig, or a
herd of pigs.
Legend has it that he would raid a local village at Haleaha
near Kaliuwa‘a, help himself to their sweet potatoes, taro,
sugar cane, and generally make a nuisance of himself. After
a few years of this, the men in the village had had enough
and planned to get rid of Kamapua‘a. So, they got together
and decided to “wrap this pig,” as the local terminology goes.
The skillful hunters set a trap for Kamapua‘a, but as a demigod,
he saw the trap before it could be sprung. The village men,
seeing he didn’t get caught in their trap, began chasing him
deeper and deeper into Kaluanui Valley along the winding path
of the “mana ala,” or mountain trail hikers follow.
While running up the trail, Kamapua’a came upon a man and
asked him to divert his pursuers by telling them he went along
another path, hopefully giving him time to escape. The man
agreed to do as he was asked.
Kamapua‘a left the man on the trail and continued running
deeper into the valley. By this time Kamapua‘a must have been
sweating like a ... well, you know. He nearly reached the
end of the gorge where he hurried to hollow out his kauluawa‘a
(double-hulled canoe) so he could escape by sea.
He finished one side and set it down. Legend says this is
the dry waterfall that rises a few hundred feet from the valley
floor. It’s on the left almost at the end of the gorge.
Kamapua‘a was hurring to hollow out the second hull when
he heard the villagers approaching and had to abandon it,
unfinished. His path cut off, he turned into a pig and scampered
up the left face of the waterfall and escaped. The second
canoe hull, not finished, was leaking water--the fall itself--and
the valley was named Kaliuwa‘a, leaking canoe. Greg Cleghorne
is assistant editor of Hawai‘i Navy News. Reprinted with permission