Located on the northwestem coast of Hawai'i, Lapakahi is about 12
miles north of Kawaihae. Take Hwy 270 north from Kawalhae to Lapakahi State
Historical Park. The park entrance is on the left side of the highway, and
marked with a sign. Parking is available at the end of the road.
The MLCD is divided into two subzones. Subzone A includes Koai'e Cove, and
Subzone B includes the waters 500 feet outside of Subzone A and extending
southward along the shoreline adjacent to the park, from the highwater mark to a
distance of 500 feet offshore.
Lapakahi State Historical Park features excavated and partially reconstructed
ruins of the ancient fishing village of Koai'e, dating back to the 1300s.
Within Koai'e Cove are two small beaches consisting of coral rubble (there is
no sand beach). The cove provides the easiest access to the water. The nearshore
bottom is mostly boulders and lava fingers with some coral. The cove's northern
portion has some good coral growth close to shore, but coral and fish are most
abundant in the southern portion. Considerable marine life is also found around
the outcropping of rocks to the right of the cove's center.
The reef in general becomes more dense as you swim farther out. Depths within
the cove range gradually from about 5 to 30 feet. Straight out from the cove,
near the outer boundary of the MLCD, there is an abundance of coral and fishes
at depths of about 60 to 80 feet.
South of the cove the bottom again consists mostly of boulders and lava
fingers, but coral growth in some areas is particularly dense. The bottom gives
way to sandy areas farther out, and depths within this part of the district
range up to about 80 feet.
There is a remarkable diversity of fish species within the MLCD, as nearly
all nearshore species typical of the North Kohala coast are represented. During
the winter, humpback whales are frequently spotted just offshore.
Strong longshore currents exist outside of Koai'e Cove, so swimmers and
snorkelers should stay within the cove.
High surf occurs during winter months.
Restrooms; freshwater available in limited quantities during park hours
(contact the Division of State Parks).
No fishing, taking or injuring of any type of marine life is permitted in
Subzone A. Fishing for finfish or crustaceans is permitted with hook-and-line or
throw net in Subzone B. Opelu may be taken with lift net within Subzone B. No
taking of sand, coral or other geological features, or possession of equipment
for that purpose is permitted anywhere within the MLCD.