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Pahala Plantation Cottages

Big Island of Hawai‘i

“Great experience.” - as reviewed on Tripadvisor.com


The Sunny Side of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Pahala is in the heart of the district of Ka`u, the largest Hawaiian district in all of the Islands. It is so vast that the entire island of O`ahu could fit inside Ka`u. The longest uninhabited coastline, Mauna Loa Volcano and much of Volcanoes National Park are found within Ka`u.

A.D. 0-300: First Polynesian settlers reach Hawaiian Islands by sailing canoe, landing at either Ka Lae (South Point) or Punalu`u Black Sand Beach, finding underground springs for water, good fishing, and mountain forests for hunting.

1200: Second wave of Polynesians sails from Tahiti to Hawai`i, conquering first wave of settlers.

1779: Expedition of Capt. James Cook, first westerner to announce Hawaiian Islands' existence, sails along Ka`u coast looking for safe harbor. Crew member William Bligh, later captain of the Bounty, comes ashore to find water.

1782: Kalanio`opu`u, absolute leader of the Big Island, dies in Ka`u and

fighting breaks out over island rule.

1790: Keoua, the son of Kalanio`opu`u, camps near Kilauea Crater (along Ka`u Desert Trail, now in Volcanoes National Park). The volcano erupts, killing 400 Keoua warriors and their families with heat, ash and volcanic fumes. The frozen footprints can be seen on the trail today.

1791: Kamehameha completes a heiau in Kawaihae (north end of island) and sends emissaries to invite Keoua for a peaceful accord. As Keoua approaches Kawaihae, a Kamehameha chief kills him, sacrificing his body at the new heiau. With the prince of Ka`u gone, Kamehameha consolidates his rule of the island.

1792: Henry Opukahaia is born at Punalu`u. He inspires the First American Board Mission to Hawai`i in 1820 when he sails to Boston. A chapel dedicated to him sits above Punalu`u Beach Park and offers Sunday service.

1823: Ka`u villagers welcome the Rev. William Ellis, who speaks Hawaiian. He and fellow Protestant missionaries estimate Ka`u's population at 5,000 to 6,000. Ka`u natives lead Ellis to Kilauea Crater, sharing legends of volcano goddess, Madame Pele. Ellis becomes first non-Hawaiian to visit the erupting volcano and document a lava lake in Halema`uma`u Crater.

1840: The first Ka`u school opens at Ninole, next to Punalu`u.

1841: Ka`u, being the most remote district in all Hawai`i, is the last to receive missionary stations. French Catholic Father Marechal settles at Wai`ohinu, followed by a Presbyterian from Virginia, the Rev. John D. Paris.

1848: The Great Mahele, or land division, under King Kamehameha III, enables non-Hawaiians to secure land for ranching, sugar and other plantings.

1853: Government survey estimates the population of Ka`u to be 2,210, a 50 percent drop in 30 years, blamed on diseases from explorers, traders and immigrants.

1860: Kapapala Ranch is founded. One of the longest established ranches in Hawai`i, the ranch is now open for horseback riding, retreats, and children's camps with donkeys.

1865: Volcano House is an unfurnished grass hut.

1866: Mark Twain visits Ka`u. He plants a row of Monkey Pod trees in Wai`ohinu. Twain writes about his visit to Volcano and is followed by noted authors Jack London and Robert Louis Stevenson. Theophilus Brown, a former whaling captain, buys Kahuku and becomes a rancher.

1868: Ka`u suffers the largest earthquake in its history, following the eruption of Mauna Loa. The 7.7 quake creates major tidal waves that devastate coastal villages. Rain-saturated soil unleashes mud slides in Wood Valley. A great fissure 18 miles long empties lava into the sea northwest of South Point. Both the fissure and the red-hot lava can now be seen on Hwy 11 at Kahuku Ranch near South Point Road.

1868: Hutchinson establishes the first commercial sugar operation in Na`alehu.

1876: Hawai`i's Reciprocity Treaty with the United States allows free trade; sugar booms and is called King Sugar.

1877: Volcano House hotel built. This original building now houses the Volcano Art Center in the park, which displays and sells arts and crafts and sponsors cultural events throughout the year.

1884: Composition of the labor population in Ka`u includes 568 Chinese, 933 Portuguese, 116 other Caucasian, and 1,543 Hawaiians and part-Hawaiians.

1886: Japan and Hawai`i agree to bring contract laborers to the Islands, with 476 arriving to Ka`u by 1890.

1878: Hawaiian Agriculture Company establishes Pahala Plantation. Honu`apo Wharf built.

1879: Honu`apo Bay Sugar Mill established.

1880: The first sugar train railroads built in Ka`u.

1881: Hawaiian Agriculture Company creates the largest sugar mill in the world, rivaled only by a mill in Jamaica.

1890: Hutchinson and Hawaiian Agriculture, having absorbed other plantations, establish railroads to transport cane. Trucks and tractors start replacing trains in early 1940s.

1906: The first Filipino sugar workers arrive in Pahala, another group arriving in Na`alehu the next year. Large annual immigrations continue until 1946.

1910: C. Brewer takes over W. G. Irwin and Company, which owned Hutchinson.

1912: Hawaiian Volcano Observatory is established by Dr. Thomas A. Jaggar, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Kilauea, the most active volcano in the world, becomes the first continuously monitored volcano.

1915: Kilauea Military Camp established to host American presidents

and world leaders, as well as military personnel and non-profit traveling


1916: Volcanoes National Park established as part of Hawai`i National Park, through an Act of Congress. It was given its present name in 1961.

1922: Volcano Golf Course opens, the first in Hawai`i.

1940: Present day Na`alehu Theater built by Hutchinson Sugar Co. Now a museum and digital media center.

1942: Honu`apu Landing shuts down. The remains of the pier can be seen at Whittington Beach Park.

1959: Hawai`i becomes a state.

1960:Macadamia Orchards are planted and Ka`u becomes one of the largest macadamia nut growing and husking sites in the world. Macadamia orchards can be seen on the tree lined road into Pahala, along Highway 11 and the road to Wood Valley.Macadamias become a popular ingredient in the Portuguese Sweetbread at Punalu`u Bakeshop & Visitor Center, which you can visit in Na`alehu.

1960: Robert Hind and Hebden Porteus start Daleico Ranch.

1966: Ka`u receives orange tree plantings, which later develop into famous Ka`u Gold Orange brand.

1972: C. Brewer and Hawaiian Agricultural Company merge to become Ka`u Sugar Company.

1973: Endangered Species Act enacted, protecting wildlife, including Hawai`i's state bird, the nene, which nests in Ka`u. Hawai`i has more endangered species than any other state.

1974: Lava flows from the flanks of Kilauea between Kilauea Caldera and the Great Crack.

                                                                                        1974: Wood Valley Temple & Retreat Center opens in the 1902 Nicheren

                                                                                        Shu Japanese church. Hosts Dalai Lama in 1980 and 1994, with thousands

                                                                                        of people attending.

1979: National Park bans goat herding, allowing the heavily damaged Ka`u desert to bloom again.

1982: Kilauea Caldera erupts for 24 hours, creating a curtain of fire 150 feet high and a mile long, to the amazement of 30,000 visitors. You can walk through the smoking crater.

1987: Jagger Museum with working seismographs, tiltmeters and volcano educational displays, opens in Volcanoes National Park. The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory remains the top volcano research facility in the world.

1993: Kilauea Cultural Festival becomes an annual summer event inside Volcanoes National Park, featuring Hawaiian crafts, hula, chanting, singing and music.

1993: Keauhou Bird Conservation Center founded in Ka`u to assist in the recovery of the endangered bird species in Hawaii. An open house each year around Christmas, along with school visits, help to educate the public.

1996: Ka`u Coffee plantings expand in the mountains behind Pahala with the final harvest of Ka`u Sugar Company, which closes March 27. Ka`u Coffee begins to build its reputation, leading to new economic hope for the area.

1997: Hula & the Arts Cultural Festival begins in Wai`ohinu, becoming an

annual Labor Day weekend celebration of dance, music, chant and display of

Hawaiian crafts. It is free to everyone. A true expression of aloha.

2000: Millennium flood tears through gulches, destroying bridges and clearing out beautiful ravines which can now be seen from Hwy. 11 near Pahala.

2001: Endangered monk seal gives birth to a pup on the Ka`u coast, for the first time in perhaps a hundred years, as endangered species continue to reestablish themselves.

2003: Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park in cooperation with the Nature Conservancy, completes the $22 million purchase of 117,000 acres of Kahuku Ranch, to enlarge Volcanoes National Park, making Ka`u home to more than 60 percent of the park. The expanded park surrounds Waiohinu, Na`alehu and Pahala, stretching from the South Point road intersection to the summit of Mauna Loa, across lands above the villages and Kapapala Ranch. The community is invited to help plan the public and conservation use of the land. In question is the balancing of endangered species with the paniolo, Hawaiian cowboy,

                                                            history of Kahuku.

The history of Ka`u was written by public school students of Ka`u, with editing donated by Julia Neal and funding and assistance from Hawai`i Community Foundation, Best Buy Foundation, De Witt Wallace Foundation, University of Hawaii, National 4H Council, Kona 4-H Federation and Famiily Support Services of West Hawaii.


History of Ka’u

Mural at Punalu’u Bake Shop by Ka’u High School students under the instruction of Kathleen Kam.1998.

John W. Peipe

Honu’apo Landing with steam ships and bullock cart 1912

Drying bagasse for fuel at Na’alehu Sugar Mill

Hawaiian Ranch

John W. Peiper and Thomas Kaniho

Hutchinson Sugar Plantation Company Store, Na’alehu

Hutchinson Sugar Plantation Company Locomotive “Kilauea”

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