DES advises against trespassing to Makua cave

| October 14, 2016 | 0 Comments
Photo courtesy of Directorate of Public Works Cultural Resources Alton Exzabe (in yellow), archaeologist, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Cultural Resources, warns would-be hikers against hiking to upper Makua Cave. The sign in the background warns about potential unexploded ordnance in the area.

Photo courtesy of Directorate of Public Works Cultural Resources
Alton Exzabe (in yellow), archaeologist, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Cultural Resources, warns would-be hikers against hiking to upper Makua Cave. The sign in the background warns about potential unexploded ordnance in the area.

Col. Shannon-Mikal Lucas
Director, Emergency Services
U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii, and
Commander, 8th Military Police Brigade,
8th Theater Sustainment Command

 

On the leeward coast of the island of Oahu, north of Pilila‘au Army Recreation Center, lies the Makua Valley.

Many military personnel know the area because of the Makua Military Reservation (MMR), a training area that lies just south of Ka‘ena Point, where Farrington Highway comes to an abrupt end.

MMR was set up after the attack on Pearl Harbor and has served as a location for military exercises and training for over half a century.

Just before you reach the fenceline marking the front entrance to MMR lies a tract of land that is a bit different than the rest of the training area. This area is leased by the Army, but it isn’t an enclosed training area; it butts up against Farrington Highway for just shy of half a mile.

On this tract of land lies Kaneana Cave, known to some as Mākua Cave. Kaneana Cave is known to Native Hawaiians as the legendary home of Nanaue, the shark man.

The cave has been identified by multiple websites as a must-see location. However, recently many of these websites and hiking blogs have also been advertising a second cave as a must-do hike: upper Mākua Cave, located on the hillside above Kaneana Cave.

We absolutely disagree. There are a number of reasons why no one should be hiking to the upper Mākua Cave.

 

No hiking on Mākua Cave

From a proprietary standpoint, the cave sits on federally leased property and has been designated a restricted location where trespassing is prohibited.

From a safety standpoint, this non-sanctioned trail is dangerous. The slopes are steep and unstable, and unexploded ordnance (UXO) may be present in the area from training that occurred many years ago.

Alarmingly, hikers illegally entering the area have been reported walking directly past “keep out” and “danger unexploded ordnance” signs. UXOs, however, present a very real danger and should not be taken lightly. In 2015, not far from the cave, an Army contractor was seriously injured after encountering a UXO and could have lost his life.

From a cultural perspective, many Native Hawaiian practitioners consider the cave “wahi pana,” a legendary or special place, because of its history and the many stories and legends relating to the area. Accessing the cave when they consider it “kapu” or off-limits is disrespectful and contrary to our Army Values – not to mention, the Resources Protection Act.

The Army has invested significant time, efforts and money to protect cultural resources, along with threatened and endangered plants and animals, on Army installations, ranges and leased lands. We ask that all service members and members of the community hike only on official, designated trails; practice safety and stay out of suspected UXO areas; respect the cultural significance of upper Makua Cave; and comply with the legal prohibition of entering the area.

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