One of the great things about a tour to Hana is what you can learn about the culture of Hawaiʻi. Hawaiians are deeply connected to the land and in ancient times used the stories and legends of love and life to explain naturally occurring events. This one is from a plaque at Wai’anapanapa State Park where the very cave and fresh water pool in this story can be seen.
This Hawaiian legend states that long ago in Hana a Hawaiian princess named Popoalaea was forced to marry an older chief named Kakea. The chief was very jealous and suspicious of his young bride and beat her often. One day she fled with her faithful serving maid and they hid inside a lava tube cave near Hana’s black sand beach.
To enter the cave required a dive into the fresh water pools called Waianapanapa (the meaning of the word is “glistening fresh water”).The king and his men grew furious looking for them. Finally one day while searching for her he spotted the two women’s reflections in the waters of the cave as they sat on the ledge.
They were killed on the spot and every spring thereafter during the dark nights of Ku when this murder took place the waters seem to glow red, signifying the blood of the princess. It has been found that these red waters are the result of a tiny shrimp called Opae’ula which feed on algae which grows on the rocks in the spring. Thus another Hawaiian legend related directly to natural phenomena!
There are several caves and lava formations within this park including this one at the black sand beach and also a blow hole that can be found by hiking further out along the parks trails.
Other stories have emerged about the Hawaiians who called this area of Hana home. The nearby cemetery holds the names of the families still living on this land who have passed down the stories of old Hawaiʻi from generation to generation.They are reluctant to talk with the many visitors who travel this road daily but they are often friends with the local tour drivers. They have shared stories with them because the local Hana residents know that these tours keep people safe and educate people in an honest and respectful way about the aina (land) and the culture.