Alekoko is the Hawaiian name for this fish pond. In ancient times, indigenous Hawaiians farmed fish by building rock walls along the edge of the river and creating several gates with 'Ohia wood that allowed the small fish to enter the calm waters and grow larger, where-upon they were too big to fit through the narrow vertical openings of the gate. Fish from the pond were reserved for the ali'i (royalty) and it was kapu (forbidden) for a commoner to take fish from the pond without permission.
According to legend, Hawaii's first inhabitants were a race of people who came from the Marquesas. They were smaller in stature than the second wave of settlers who came later from Tahiti. A census taken in the 1820's by King Kaumuali'i of Kauai listed 65 people who identified as "Menehune". The Menehune were known to be master stone masons who were summoned by the Tahitian settlers to help them construct rock walls of the highest quality.
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The Alekoko Menehune Fishpond is estimated to have been built over 1000 years ago. Legend states that the walls of the pond were built in one night by a group of Menehune who were commissioned by the King of the Polynesians to build the pond. The Menehune lined up on the hillside and formed a human chain, passing the stones one by one down the hillside until they were in place. Their fingers and hands were so worn from the work that they were dripping with blood - this is the literal translation of Alekoko ("ale" means dripping and "koko" means blood).
Another legend states that the Menehune King agreed to build the pond under the condition that no one else observe the work. The Polynesian King agreed and work commenced on a cloudy full moon night. Half way through the night, the clouds parted to reveal the full moon which shone brightly on the mountains on the other side of the river bank. High up on the mountain top, the son and daughter of the Polynesian King had hidden themselves on a ridge. The Menehune King was infuriated that his people were being spied on while doing their work and turned the two onlookers into stone where they are still visible today as two rock pinnacles sticking up on the ridgeline. The Menehune King ordered his men to stop work immediately which is meant to explain why there is a section of wall which was built using a different type of rock.
Located only a few minutes from Nawiliwili Harbor, the Alekoko Menehune Fishpond has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1973. The Menehune Fishpond abuts the Hule'ia Stream with a 900 foot-long stone wall. Regardless of what legend you believe, it is an impressive feat indeed.
Take Highway 50 east toward Puhi. Turn right on Puhi Road just past Mile Marker #2, across the street from Kauai Community College. At the end of the road, turn left on Hulemalu Road. The fishpond is on the right and can be seen from the overlook.
Alternatively, from Nawiliwili, turn left past the cruise ship terminal and proceed towards Niumalu. After the small boat harbor there will be a speed bump, take your next right tun and proceed though a little neighborhood and then go up the hill. At the rise in the hill on your left will be the pull out for the overlook.
On the other side of the mountains across the river is sunny Po'ipu.