Kaneana Cave

Makua Cave

Useful Information

Location: 86-260 Farrington Hwy, Waianae, HI 96792.
(21.519772, -158.227565)
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: Speleologysea cave Speleologylava tube TopicGateways to Hell
Light: bring torch
Dimension: L=137 m.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Kaneana Cave, 86-260 Farrington Hwy, Waianae, HI 96792.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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Kaneana Cave is located at the western coast of Oahu Island, which is also called the Leeward Coast. Highway 93, the coastal road, also known as Farrington Hwy, has a dirt car park towards the sea, which is probably used mostly by visitors of the Ohiki-Lolo beach. There are no signs, neither for the parking lot nor the cave or the beach. But there is a rock in the middle with a commemorative brass plate and an explanatory text telling about the legends. Across the highway, at the foot of a cliff is the entrance to Kaneana Cave, actually Kane'Ana (Cave of Kane), as Ana means "cave". Kane is the God of Creation, and according to the Maori beliefs, the cave is the womb of the Earth Goddess from where mankind emerged and spread along Waianae Coast. We were a little irritated that the god is male and the labour was delegated to a nameless goddess, but actually we are not competent in Maori traditional gender issues.

Kamohoali’i was a shapeshifter who could transform himself from a shark into a man. He and his human wife gave birth to a son, Nanaue. When the son discovered his taste for human flesh, after all he was a man-eating shark, he disguised himself as a human in order to trick his victims. He dragged his victims into the cave and ate them. Finally, a human caught a glimpse of the fin on his back, and his identity as shark man was discovered. First Nanaue escaped to the ocean, but when he returned later they captured and killed him.

If there is a core of truth in the legend, so it is probably that there was guy which the locals did not understand or like, and then they found an excuse to kill him. History is always written by the winners. As the cave was the home of Nanaue, the shark man of Kane'ana, the place was kapu (forbidden). Today, while it has no religious status any more, it is often listed as a haunted place. There are countless accounts of paranormal sightings and unsettling events. There are legends about kahuna (priests) performing rituals within the cave. The souls of the deceased go to Kalae O Kala'au (Ka'ena Point) and from here ascend to Po, the realm of the ancestral spirits. Another legend tells that the souls of deceased chiefs haunt the cave. In the early 1900s, a serial killer used the cave to dispose of his victims, at least that's what the urban legend claims. Some talk about psychic energy stored in the cave, others say the far end of the cave is an entrance to hell. People have reported sightings of a bone-chilling, crusty creature with glowing red eyes emerging from the back of the cave.

Today the cave is freely accessible, located on the opposite side of a parking lot. As a result it is very well visited and also vandalized, mostly with spray paint tags on the walls. As it is a lava tube which is estimated to be 150,000 years old, there are no speleothems. The cave was probably completely closed, covered by younger lava flows until it was finally reopened by the erosion of the coastline by the waves of the sea. So the entrance area is actually a sea cave. The cave is level, and the floor is sand or dust, but as it is mostly clay it is slippery when it becomes wet. We recommend a lamp and good walking shoes.

There is another name, Makua Cave, and numerous websites say that its just another name of the same cave. But actually, Kane'Ana is located at the level of the road, about 30 m asl, which Makua Cave is located higher up in the cliff, about 150 m asl. It is also sometimes called Upper Makua Cave, while Kane'Ana is called Lower Makua Cave. A steep trail leads up to this cave which starts about 50 m north of the parking lot on the right side. The cave offers a great view on the coast to the north, as it is located in the northern slope of the mountain ridge.