The Maka‘uwahi Cave is Hawaii's largest limestone cave found in Hawaii. Located in the Māhāʻulepū Valley close to Māhāʻulepū Beach, the cave was discovered in 1992 and can be reached by a sinkhole. This site is of significant importance to both the archaeological and paleoecological fields because of the number of fossils that can be found in the cave.
Maka'uwahi Cave took over 400,000 years to form through an ancient sand dune that over time turned into stone. Approximately 7,000 years ago, the erosion of the limestone resulted in the ceiling in the cave’s central room collapsing and creating a sinkhole and a freshwater lake. The lake dried out and the plants and animals that fell into it were preserved through fossilization.
The cave contains nearly 10,000 years of sedimentary record and excavation of the cave has produced findings such as pollen, seeds, diatoms, invertebrate shells, and Polynesian artifacts, as well as thousands of bird and fish bones. Findings also show how the first humans who arrived in Kauai affected the natural environment which led to the extinction of certain species in Maka‘uwahi.
Today, there are still species that can be found residing in the caves such as blind cave spiders and other invertebrates. Dr. David Burney and his wife Lida Pigott Burney work to preserve this important Kauai site by restoring the cave and removing non-native and invasive species and reintroducing native vegetation to restore the environment to its pre‐human condition.
During your stay in our Kauai rentals, visit Maka'uwahi Cave to learn more about the preservation of this important Kauai site.