Keawaʻula was believed to be part of the Kaʻena Point leina a ka ʻuhane (leaping places of souls into the spirit world;) at the northern part of the Waiʻanae coastline, it is at the western most point of Oʻahu.
Keawaʻula (red harbor or land) got the name from the squid that used to come into the area. When the squid would come into the ocean, from the shore it would appear as a reddish brown color. (ksbe)
Archaeologists turned up evidence of ancient agriculture in Keawaʻula when terraces indicating a former taro site were found at the bottom of the cliff. Several fishing shrines also existed here. (WaiʻanaeHS)
Poha Cave is said to have existed here. This cave had streams of fresh water running through it that were carried to Kaieiewaho Channel between Oʻahu and Kauaʻi. It is said that ancient Hawaiians out fishing would dive down at certain places with large calabashes and come up with fresh water from these streams. (WaiʻanaeHS)
Many years later, in 1859, when a house lot was being cleared in this area, a cave entrance covered by three large, flat stones was found. Freshwater was found inside, and people came from miles around to drink. This cave has since been named Keawaʻula Cave, but many believe it to be the fabled Poha Cave. (WaiʻanaeHS)
Missionary Levi Chamberlain during a trip along the Waiʻanae and Waialua coastline sometime prior to 1849 traveled northwest by canoe from the village of Keawaʻula to a “cove,” presumably a canoe landing, at the southeastern side of Kaʻena Point. (DLNR)
In “front of the little cove” was “a cave used by fishermen occasionally for a residence” which was about 30 feet high and had dimensions of 30 and 15 paces. The cave is described as being at “nearly the west point of the island” and south of the Waiʻanae and Waialua District boundary which dissects Kaʻena Point in an east-west direction. (DLNR)
He traveled from the cave “a short distance over a very rough path along the shore and came to the mokuna (boundary) of the large divisions of the island Wainai and Waiarua.” This may be the cave called “Ke Ana Moe of Kaʻena” in 1954 which was said to be used by travelers from Mākua to Waialua. This cave may have been obscured by construction of the railway bed. (DLNR)
Keawaʻula was known for its aku and ahi fishing grounds. The coastal fisheries were also noted as particularly productive when submerged, woven basket traps (hinaʻi) were used to catch kala and hinalea. (DLNR)
When describing basket traps in general, Kamakau notes a particular pattern and size of basket trap that was made for kala fish and also states it to be “a land abounding in kala fishs”. (DLNR)
Most of the government lands and private lands at Keawaʻula were leased for ranching during the second half of the 1800s and first half of the 1900s. A major portion of Keawaʻula became government land after Laʻamaikahiki relinquished “½” of the ahupuaʻa to the King during the 1848 Māhele and the King then designated it government land. (DLNR)
When the privately-owned lands along the coast were acquired by the State of Hawaiʻi in the 1970s to create Kaʻena Point State Park, all were owned by ranching interests or by families with ranching interests in the area. The Keawaʻula section of the point was owned by Elizabeth Marks who inherited McCandless Ranch.
Keawaʻula is now generally referred to as Yokohama Bay. Several stories suggest the later name. One story suggests this was a favorite fishing spot for Japanese living on Oʻahu; they gave it the nickname Yokohama after the famous fishing village in Japan. (ksbe)
When OR&L extended its rail line around Kaʻena Point, boats carried Japanese laborers, equipment and supplies to the site and freight back; on October 14, 1897, the place where the first Japanese laborers landed for this job is known to this day as “Yokohama Beach.” (ascehawaii)
Another story is that there was a Japanese man who ran the train station there. Because he was Japanese, people nicknamed him “Yokohama” – and thus the place carried it. (WaiʻanaeHS)
The Bay is at the beginning of the Kaʻena Natural Area Reserve. There is a lifeguard and restroom (only at the reserve entrance;) no facilities exist beyond that point. Under the Natural Area Reserve system, off-road driving is prohibited in the area to protect native plant and animal habitats.
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