Friday, Feb. 23, 2024 |
Share this story
With the increase in visitors to Kaua‘i and a growing population on the Island, the pressure on wilderness areas like Kalalau Valley on Na Pali is increasing.
Where two and three decades ago access was wide open to the isolated valley, today it is strictly restricted by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, and for good reason. Camping permits are hard to get during the summer and in other seasons. With the ongoing closure of the camp site at Miloli‘i Valley further to the west of Kalalau, the valley has become the focus of hikers and campers heading out to Na Pali.
It is said that the last Native Hawaiian residents of Kalalau moved out of the valley by 1920, leaving behind a past that perhaps stretches back 1,000 years. Today the descendants of theses last settlers live in Ha‘ena and other towns on the North Shore. They left, according to oral histories of at least one of the last children to grow up in Kalalau, because life on the outside was much easier.
Today Native Hawaiians are again looking at the valley as something more than a campsite. Where Native Hawaiian rights to the sacred sites of Na Pali begin and the effort of the DLNR to protect the valleys end may soon become an issue. Both sides may need to compromise on their stands. The problem of squatters living in Kalalau is an issue that overlaps the use of the sacred sites. Caches of trash and crimes are being reported in the valleys, often caused by what are known as unpermitted campers.
While hermits like Bernard Wheatley, who lived in Kalalau more than 40 years ago were once accepted and left alone, this can no longer be done. The heritage of Kalalau is now at stake with damage being reported to ancient taro lo‘i and other sites in the valley. Besides a dig along the cliffside at Nualolo Kai in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the archaeology of Na Pali is still somewhat of a virgin field.
This needs to be considered. Rare, still unnamed plants can still be found deep in Na Pali valleys, these plants need protection. Both of these areas are being threatened by unpermitted campers. Kalalau and the other valleys should be left alone in areas beyond the coast where visitors snorkel and camp now. Those who go into the valleys need to respect the ancient sites, and provision needs to be made for the rights of Native Hawaiians to return to the places of their past.
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
By participating in online discussions you
acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful
discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments
are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines,
send us an email.