End of the World

Kona Coast

This Mordor-esque lava plain of jagged ʻaʻa rock that crinkles to the deep blue coast then drops steeply into the ocean, lives up to its name. To get here, look for a trailhead to the water at the end of Aliʻi Dr. It’s a short, rocky hike to the cliffs. This is the place where Liholiho secured his kingship in the 1819 Battle of Kuamoʻo – some 300 dead warriors are buried under cairns in the Lekeleke Burial Grounds.

When Kamehameha the Great’s son Liholiho (Kamehameha II) was crowned king, he took major steps to abolish the rigid kapu taboo system that regulated daily life, including the then-taboo act of eating with women. His cousin Chief Kekauokalani was incensed (or he coveted the crown, or maybe a bit of both) and challenged Liholiho to battle here. In the resulting Battle of Kuamoʻo some 300 were killed, including Kekauokalani and his wife. The dead were interned on the lava field, Liholiho’s rule was firmly established, and the kapu system was broken.

Sometimes waves crash like thunderheads on the rocks, sometimes the ocean is calm as a pond and, often, locals jump off the cliffs into the water. Though they know the tides, injuries and deaths do occur, so you shouldn't attempt a swim.

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