If you are driving around Hawaii’s pristine Kauai island, be sure to combine picture-perfect scenery with a dose of Hawaiian history and folklore by stopping off at the Menehune Fishpond. Here visitors are afforded a view over the Huleʻia Valley melded with the mythical Menehune Fishpond.
Menehune Fishpond, also known as Alekoko Fishpond, is a man-made pond dating back 1000 years and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Legend has it that the pond was built by the Menehune people – an ancient race of ‘little people’ who inhabited the island long ago and who were said to be expert builders and craftspeople. The pond was formed by constructing a 900-foot stone dam to cut off the elbow of the Hule'ia River, an impressive feat for its time.
The purpose of the pond was to farm fish from the river for food. Strategically sized holes were put in the wall allowing small fish to enter, but by the time they were fully grown, they were too big to exit back through the holes, thus trapping them in the pond for life. According to folklore, the Menehune people built the dam in a single night by forming a human chain and passing the rocks from person to person down to the river until their hands were blistered and bleeding. ‘Alekoko’ translates to ‘dripping blood’.
This historic fishpond is privately owned but can be viewed from the designated overlook situated on Hulemalu Road (roughly a kilometre inland from Nawiliwili Harbor) in the Lihue area of Kauai. The best time to view the pond and valley is at sunset. Menehune Fishpond is located adjacent to the Huleʻia National Wildlife Refuge (also seen from the overlook), home to a number of endangered Hawaiian waterbirds and only accessible by organised kayak tours.