White sand beach with coconut palms.
Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, through the help of Trust for Public Land, now protects 16,451 acres at the Kahuku-Pōhue parcel.

NPS Photo


Located on the southern flank of Mauna Loa, the Kahuku-Pōhue parcel is home to numerous well-preserved and significant Hawaiian cultural sites, including the largest recorded abrader quarry in Hawaiʻi, lava tubes, burial site, mauka-makai (mountain to sea) trails, fishing shrines, remains of once-thriving coastal villages, and petroglyphs. A well-preserved portion of the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail or Ala Loa, an ancient coastal trail system, hugs the coastline.The Pōhue coastline is also critical habitat for federally listed endangered Hawaiian species, including honu‘ea (Hawaiian hawksbill turtle) and ʻīlioholoikauaua (Hawaiian monk seal). Rare endemic ʻōpaeʻula (red shrimp) live in the area’s anchialine ponds, and the bay is often frequented by native and migratory birds, including ʻiwa (frigate bird), koaʻe kea (white tailed tropic bird), kōlea (golden plover), ʻūlili (wandering tattler) and ʻaukuʻu (black crowned night heron).

A Push to Protect Kahuku-Pōhue

On July 12, 2022, the Trust for Public Land (TPL) transferred ownership and stewardship of Kahuku-Pōhue to the National Park Service. The 16,451-acre parcel—from Māmalahoa Highway to the shoreline—is now part of Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. Trust for Public Land has also donated $800,000 to the Friends of Volcanoes National Park to support the National Park Service’s management of Pōhue Bay.

“Pōhue is an incredibly precious and culturally significant landscape that needs to be protected.... the park is working to develop an interim operating plan for Pōhue that explores opportunities for public use compatible with resource protection. We thank the community for your patience and for the manaʻo shared so far." - Park Superintendent, Rhonda Loh

Before the land transfer, NPS took proactive steps and met with community members in partnership with TPL and the Hawaiʻi Alliance for Community-Based Economic Development (HACBED) to better understand the land's cultural, historical and ecological significance. This preliminary process will continue over the next several months.

The park is calling the new section the “Kahuku-Pōhue parcel” in reference to the Hawaiian place name, Kahuku. Kahuku is the mauka-to-makai (inland to ocean) ʻahupuaʻa (historic land division), in which Pōhue is located. In addition, many Kaʻū locals refer to the bay as Pōhue Bay and its adjacent beach as Kahuku Beach. The park welcomes additional information about other ʻinoa ʻāina (Native Hawaiian or indigenous) place names for Kahuku-Pōhue.

What about public access?

Public access is temporarily restricted until interim operating procedures are complete, and safe access that protects the precious resources can be provided. There are no bathroom facilities, no formalized parking or capacity for trash removal and emergency response is very limited. Existing roads and trails pass through private property before reaching the shoreline, and the park does not have the authority to allow access through private property.

In order to provide public access, the park will need to identify and establish alternative routes within Kahuku-Pōhue. We are seeking feedback on what kinds of public access and use compatible with resource protection should be explored. The first public meetings were held on August 13 and 17, additional meetings are being planned. Please e-mail us for feedback or questions.

The public map of the Kahuku-Pōhue parcel provides information on land ownership, geological features, inoa ʻāina (Native Hawaiian place names), and more.


Last updated: August 25, 2022

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