After being closed for four years, the Ahihi Kinau Natural Area Reserve is slated to open again on July 31. The 2000+ acre land and ocean reserve is a popular area for snorkeling, diving and hiking. The area contains the remnants of important archaeological sites (villages, burials, and temples) and is also a habitat for rare and endangered species. Even with the re-opening we expect the Department of Land and Natural Resources to limit access to ensure the Reserve doesn’t deteriorate as it did in the past after being popularized by travel books.
The above aerial photo shows a portion of the Reserve which extends from Ahihi Bay to La Perouse Bay. La Perouse Bay is named after the first European credited to set foot on Maui, the French naval officer and Explorer Jean Francois de Galaup, comte de La Perouse, who arrived 1786. La Perouse had been commissioned by the King of France to sail throughout the Pacific Ocean to discover new lands, establish commercial trade and collect scientific data. His two 500 ton ships, the Boussole and Astrolabe carried botanists, astronomers, oceanographers, zoologists, and soldiers. La Perouse was at first weary of the islanders knowing about Captain Cook’s death on the Big Island 7 years earlier, and landed with 20 soldiers. But the villagers were very interested in La Perouse’s ship and eager to trade.
On land La Perouse surveyed the four villages in the area, each containing about a dozen huts, and traded and exchanged gifts with the residents. The Reserve surely contains the remnants of at least one of these villages.
Relative to other areas of Maui this dry region was very sparsely populated. It’s interesting to note that today the area just north of La Perouse Bay contains some of the most sought after real estate in Maui from luxury condos to the ten million dollar homes of Makena.
There’s more to the story of La Perouse Bay. In 1790 the American trading ship Eleanora anchored near the Bay and traded for supplies with the village. During the night the Eleanora’s support boat, tied to the side of the ship, was stolen and the sailor guarding it killed. The ships Captain, Simon Metcalfe, was outraged and ordered the village bombarded with grape shot. He also sent men to set fire to the village’s huts and temple. This event would eventually lead to the Massacre at Oluwalu, where Metcalfe sought further revenge and killed over 100 Hawaiians.