Hiking Hālawa

This remote Moloka‘i valley is home to hardy Hawaiians, lizard deities, and fish that climb waterfalls.


When we reach the pool, we take a moment to ask the mo‘o’s permission before diving in. The water is wonderfully cold — perfect after the hot, humid trek. I swim beneath the waterfall and let it thunder down onto me. My kind of baptism.

Afterward, we sun ourselves on the rocks like lizards. One of the Canadians spots a pudgy teardrop resting in the shallows and asks, “What kind of fish is that?” To my astonishment, I recognize the distinctive half-black, half-red fish. It’s an ala mo‘o — one of five native freshwater gobies, known for their remarkable ability to climb the vertical rock face of waterfalls. Ala mo‘o in particular prefer the pure water of high-elevation streams. I’ve never seen one before and, to be honest, never expected to see one. This rare stream inhabitant is sign of a healthy riparian ecosystem. How appropriate to discover the ala mo‘o fish in the mo‘o stream!

That isn’t the only treasure the valley serves up, either. I’ve read that petroglyphs, ancient rock carvings, can be found in Hālawa. I ask Greg, who points almost nonchalantly behind me. I turn and see a large, lichen-covered stone in the middle of the stream. Its flat face bears a faint etching. I scramble down closer to inspect. It’s a stick figure man holding a rainbow. His message of hope, drawn by Hālawa’s former inhabitants, is carried forward by the valley’s current caretakers.

If You Go:

The hike is 3.4 miles round-trip across streams and through muddy terrain. Wear swimsuit, clothes and footwear you don’t mind getting wet. Bring water, snacks, camera, sunscreen, mosquito repellant, and raincoat.

$60 for adults, $35 for children ages 6–12; cash only

HalawaValleyMolokai.com | 808-542-1855


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