Maha'ulepu, Kaua'i



Facing Southwest

Over 150 petroglyphs are buried under this beach at Maha'ulepu on the south shore of Kaua'i. A small stream enters the ocean at the top of the picture.


Age of the Petroglyphs

Hawaiian history, design of the carvings, plus geological and circumstantial evidence date many of the Maha'ulepu petroglyphs to the 15th - 16th centuries. Local tradition says they are very old.

In the 1890's, historian J K Farley asked Kauila, a Hawaiian woman who lived near Keoneloa Bay for many years if she knew how old the petroglyphs were.


Facing Northeast

A view from the opposite direction. A solitary housestands at Maha'ulepu behind the beach where the petroglyphs are buried.




Na = The (plural)

Ki'i = Picture

Pohaku = Rock, Stone

Na Ki'i Pohaku = Petroglyphs



She said she first saw them in 1848 when she was 13.

Her teacher, a Roman Catholic priest saw the petroglyphs at the same time. He asked her parents, grandparents, and other elders about the petroglyphs.

They said no one knew who carved them or why. The oldest ones told him that their elders had told them that the petroglyphs "had always been there."



Kauila told Farley about another group of petroglyps 50 - 100 ft further inland.

She told him, "The animals are not like anything now seen; they have bodies like cattle, heads and ears like pigs, but no horns; the canoe has no outrigger or figures on it."



The petroglyph site is towards the western (left) edge of the beach.