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Oahu's Puu Manamana Crouching Lion Trail. I hike it.


I’d seen the leonine silhouette from Kamehameha Highway more times than I could remember.

Perched high up on the mountain ridges overlooking Kahana Bay on Oahu’s lush Windward Coast is the distinct natural rock formation known most famously by its English name, “Crouching Lion.” When the sun is shining just right, its majestic visage can be drawn out perfectly.

Most legends of the landmark’s origins explain that the ancient Hawaiians believed it to be a demigod named Kauahi, sent from Tahiti to watch over the area. Having never seen a lion in the Islands, they considered Kauahi’s form to be that of a large-headed dog, or ilio.


The story goes that though Kauahi wished to explore the rest of island, he never left his post. And over time, his body slowly became one with the earth.

One day, the goddess Hiiaka—sister of the Hawaiian fire goddess Pele—sang with a sweet voice that Kauahi could not resist. He struggled, as he tried to stand up and escape from the kukui tree roots that bound him, but only got as far as a crouching position before he was frozen into stone. Legend has it that he still keeps watch over Kahana Bay, Kaaawa Valley and its people below. 

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Check out these related HawaiiMagazine.com posts:
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