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The Ke’anae Peninsula was created from an immense lava flow originating from Haleakala Crater. Centuries ago Hawaiians brought soil down, by hand, from the mountains to create the Keanae Peninsula. Their amazing display of physical labor is a testament to how revered this land is in Hawaiian culture. It is no wonder so much history is found here!

In recent times, the peninsula is also home to some very tasty banana bread that perfectly compliments the variety of tropical fruits found at stands along the Road to Hana.  You will also find taro fields, animals grazing and world-class fishing. It’s known for its wonderful opportunities for capturing photos of the North Shore’s powerful waves crashing against Maui’s black, jagged lava rocks.

Taro & The Ke’anae Peninsula

Ke’anae farmers still produce a much sought after variety of poi (taro root pounded into a paste) favored by locals. It is an intensive type of farming in which stream water is diverted into flooded fields called “Loi.” Itʻs hard work so please respect these farms and do not trespass onto their property. Asking for permission is the best form of aloha you can practice.

From the legend of this Peninsula’s creation, we can learn much about the taro farming that has sustained generations of Hawaiians on this side of the island for centuries. Ancient Hawaiians cultivated many types of taro which was and still is the staple food of the Hawaiian culture. Every part of the plant is edible and taro is now known as a superfood for its rich assortment of nutrients.

In ancient times, taro played a much larger role than just a food source. This plant stood at the economic, political, and spiritual center of Hawaiian agricultural society. Taro grew to mythological status and is a large part of ancient Hawaiian’s creation story.

Ancient Hawaiian History of Ke’anae

Legend has it that a Maui chief ordered the building of Ke’anae peninsula into farmable land. Workers hauled, by hand, soil from the valley above to fill in the entire area.  Just imagine how long it may have taken and how many people were involved.

According to the book “Maui – A History,” author C.E. Speakman tells the story of Captain Cook’s short visit to Maui in 1778. Though he never landed on the island, his ships, the Discovery and the Resolution, spent 2 days off the coast of Kahului trading with the native Hawaiians. When he left, he sailed down the north coast and was approached near Ke’anae by a double-hulled canoe. Aboard the canoe was the then ruler of the big island of Hawai’i, Kalaniopu’u accompanied by his nephew Kamehameha. The young warrior chief Kamehameha spent the night on Cook’s ship off the coast of Ke’anae taking in all the new technologies he saw on board. A few weeks later they would meet again on the shores of Kanaka Bay on the big island. It is but one of the many stories you will learn on our road to Hana tour!

The Church That Survived A Tsunami

Ke’anae’s Old Stone Church, called “Ihi’ihio Iehowa o na Kaua” in Hawaiian, was built in 1856 and is the sole surviving building of the April 1st, 1946 killer tsunami which wiped out the entire village. There was an 8.6 monster earthquake that originated in the Aleutian Islands chain off the coast of Alaska that caused a 100 ft. high devastating tsunami near the epicenter in the Aleutians, but had lost most of their energy and were maxed out at 35 feet by the time they hit the Ke’anae Peninsula.

The 12 meter waves hit Maui hard as they came ashore. Remember, it was 1946 and there wasn’t any such thing as a tsunami warning system in the Pacific at the time, leaving Hawaii completely vulnerable and blind to what was coming. Tragically, there were 20 children and 4 teachers pulled out to sea, a completely devastating loss for such a small village like Ke’anae.

The most positive outcome from this tragedy was the development and implementation of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center which was, and still is, headquartered on Ewa Beach on Oahu, Hawaii.


Unsure of where you can go? Take a Road To Hana tour and your guide will keep you safe, informed, and entertained.


The peninsula is also home to some of the best banana bread on the island. Sandy’s banana bread has been featured in Bon Appetit magazine and this little stand sells close to 80 loaves a day! Sandy’s also has a tasty selection of sandwiches and other goodies enjoyed by the locals as well as visitors from around the world.