Honolulu Physiographic Features (i.e., Topographic Landmarks)

This section presents the major physiographic features on the landscape as found on the USGS 1:62,500 scale Topographic Map of Oahu. The presentation is ordered from east to west across Honolulu, from Maunalua in the east to Moanalua in the west. The focus is the physiography, but we'll need to place present day neighborhoods in this context, and liven it up a little with some mo'olelos, drawn mostly from Elspeth P. Sterling and Catherine C. Summers, Sites of Oahu. (Including primarily human sites in the current disucussion may be jumping ahead from physiography and into human settlement patterns, but it is hard to talk about terrain features without giving them names and the names come from people. The organization here, and indeed in Sterling and Sommers, falls back on human-defined ahupua`a for structure.) You may also want to consult Pukui, Elbert, and Mookini Place Names of Hawaii and a Hawaiian language dictionary to help make sense of the place name words.

The features that follow are basically the set of ridges and valleys, the volcanic cones, craters, and flows, the streams, and some man-made features that show up as landmarks on the USGS topographic maps.

The point of this section is to get your placename vocabulary up a little. I'll consider the location any of the features named here to be fair game for exam questions. You should follow along on your Bryan's Sectional Maps (esp maps 22-1) as you work through this list.

This false-color composit image (here), taken from a Landsat satelite in YEAR???, provides island-wide context at a moderate level of detail.

Some other map excerpts are online here and two shaded-relief terrain-draped topographic maps (whew!) are here: east and west .

The map we have been using for quizes and exams is this one which gives minimal context beyond the terrain.

Here we go...


Makapuu Pt  
Makapuu Head - CG light

Puu O Kipahulu - peak at south end of Makapuu 

Kaloko - lit. the pond, flat coastal area on S of Makapuu Head.   

Kalama Valley - current development

Koko Crater - (Kohelepelepe) S&S p267, botanical garden
Koko Head (now w/ Hawaii Kai and Portlock,  
   before w/ fishing shrines Palialaea, Huanui, and Ko'a Ku)
 land section called Kaihuokapuaa (lit. the snout of the pig)
 Palea Pt - E side of Hanauma Bay
 Hanauma Bay (hana-uma, an arm-wrestling game, Queen Kaahumanu retinue, 
   a good place to wait for favorable winds to sail to Molokai)
 Nonoula (crater)
 Iheihelauakea (crater) (cor. sp. 'Ihi'ihi-lau-akea, PE&M,
                          the rare fern that grows there)
 Kuamookane (Koko Head   peak, 642ft) 
 Paioluolu Pt (W side of Hanauma bay)
 Kawaihoa Pt (SW end of Koko Head) 
Kuapa Pond (Keahupua-o-Maunalua Fishpond,  523 acres in 1851) 

Kamehame Ridge - btw Kalama V. and Kamiloiki V.  
               - lit. the hame tree

Kamiloiki Valley - (the little milo 
             milo shade tree likes beach or curl, twist like
                    sennit or current)
(Name?) ridge -
Kamilonui Valley - ( the big  milo )

Kaluanui Ridge - (the big pit)

Hahaione Valley - (lit. broken sand, also used for eastern end of
                     Sandy Beach)

Mauna o Ahi Ridge - lit. fire-hurling hill

Kaalakei Valley - lit. ?, draw between Maunna o ahi ridge on the
east and the ridge which runs up to Puu O Kona

Kuliouou Valley - ref attachment of drum to knee (kuli); drum sound (ouou)

Puu o Kona (2,200 ft. peak on Koolau Mts at back of V) 
(Name?) ridge - comes down to Paiko Peninsula (w/ Beach park)
   from Puu o Kona, separates Kuliouou V. from Kaalakei V. 

Niu Valley (niu - coconut)
 divided into Kupana Valley on the east 
 and Pia (lit. arrow root, starch) Valley on the west
by Kulepiamoa (Kulepeamoa) (lit. flapping of chickein) Ridge
 Kupapa fishpond - basalt wall 3' high, 8 wide, 2000 long, 
   filled for development ~early 1950's (?) now Niuiki Cr
   (lit. steadfast)
Hawaiiloa Ridge  ( comes down to ocean btwn Pia V. and Kului Gulch)

"Aina Haina"- in Wailupe Ahupuaa 
Kului Gulch - (named for certain small trees and shrubs. Nototrichium ssp)
Wailupe Gulch -(lit. kite water - place to fly kites ??? syn.
                 with hi-hi-manu - stingray)
Wailupe Peninsula - Wailupe Fishpond 41 acres, 2500 ft wall, filled.

Wiliwilinui Ridge -- running back to Puu Lanipo ~2700 ft and down to 
  behind Wailupe fishpond/Peninsula.
 separates Wailupe from Waialae ahupuaa.
 (lit. large Wiliwili)

Waialae Ahupua`a -- named for springs (lit. mud hen water)
Waialae Iki (? ridge between draws on west side of Wiliwilinui)
(?) small ridge then,
Kapakahi Gulch

Waialae Nui  (btwn Kapakahi Gulch and Mauumae Ridge)

Kahala Neighborhood (east of Diamond Head)

HONOLULU (kind of properly  still from east to west )

Waialae Nui (ridge reaching back to Puu Lanipo)
Waialaenui Gulch

Mauumae Ridge - (lit. wilted grass) Kane & Kanaloa wrestled and
                 trampled the grass)
 Maunalani Heights (heavenly mountain - made up)
 Wilhelmina Rise

Palolo Valley  -"clay", 
 Waiomao Stream  - (lit. green water)
 Kauu Crater - resting place of Maui's Fishing hook (S&S p277)
 Pukele Stream (lit. muddy)
 Kaau-helu-moa Spring - (S&S p277)
Ka-imu-ki - oven for cooking ti root, rocky stronghold of dwarf Menehune

Kalaepohaku Ridge (lit. the stone promontory)
 (St. Louis Heights) 

Manoa Ahupuaa 

around the valley 

Waahila Ridge  (running back to Mt. Olympus /earlier name???) 
Mt Olympus - (named by Punahou students) then along ridge to 
Puu Konahuanui (lit. large fat innards)
   - story of giant throwing his testicles
   - highest point in Koolaus at 3,150 ft.
   - rainfall at top ~160-170 inches per year

down the narrow ridge on the ewa side of the valley to 
Pauoa Flats, on the saddle mauka of 
Tantalus (2013ft) (Punahou students again, 
           for the thirsty Greek mythological figure
     in water that rises and receeds before he can drink), and then
on down to the broadening mass of Makiki, but with features on the
Manoa side of the ridge. 
Puu Kakea --> (var?. Puu Kahea)  (Sugar Loaf)
Round Top (1048 ft) - (`Uala-ka`a) (lit. rolling sweet potato) S&S p284  
  -rat bit vine v, archer shot at mouse v, stolen potato and Kamehameha
Rocky Hill; 

Manoa Valley  (lit. wide, vast reference to the shape)

 Puu Pia (~2100 ft) - hill in upper manoa lit. arrowroot hill
 Akaka - spur of mt coming into valley 
 Manoa Stream's branches
  Waiakeakua Stream - lit. water used by the god 
  ???-name branch with spring at head
  Naniuapo Stream - lit. the grasped coconuts 
  Luaalaea Stream - lit. pit of red earth
  ???-name on branch off east of following
  Waihi Stream (Manoa Falls) branches reach further up toward Puu Kanahuanui
   on the ridge of the Koolaus over looking Maunawili and Kailua.
   lit. trickling water
 Rocky Hill - formerly Pu`u-o-Manoa - hill behind Puna-hou school

 Ka-mo-`ili`ili - Moiliili (legend in S&S p 281)

  Some things in Mo`ili`ili:
     Kumulae Spring - off Hausten Street (S&S p281)
     Kanewai - "large underground pool on mauka side of king
                 street, near what is now the quarry" S&S p281

while to the Nuuanu side
the ridge runs down across Pauoa to Punchbowl (Puu Waina).

Makiki (probably named for a type of stone used as weights for
octopus lures. - Pukui et al.)

Papakolea  (golder plover flats)

Puowaina (Punchbowl) ( contraction of Pu-o-waihoana, S&S p291) 
          (lit. hill of placing [human sacrifices] Pukui et al.)
           (holua sledding on steep side)

Nuuanu Valley (lit. cool height)

 Nuuanu Pali
 Puu Nukohe ?

 Pauoa (ear) valley on east side of valley

 Kupanihi (now Pacific Heights) (place where Kupanihi the famous
sow gave birth to a human child who later became a celebrated
warrior nad hte ancestor of some of Oahu's greatest warriors)

 Waipuhia Falls (lit. blown water - upside down falls)

 Lulumahu Stream  * meaning uncertain

 Moole Stream 

 Nuuanu Stream
   Waipuilani Falls on the east (in Bryan's)
   Waipuhia Falls on west 
   Reservoirs #4, #3, #2, #1
  Lower Laukaha Falls
  Jackass Ginger Pool (possibly Kahua-i-lana-wai)
  Alapena pool
  Kapena Pool
  ??? pool at Liliuokalani Bot Garden  
 Kekoalele Ridge (on west side of valley)
 Napuumaia (at top of ridge, USGS name, not in Pukui et al.)
 Waolani Stream (west of Kekoalele ridge) (lit. water of heaven

 Waiolani (peak above Pacific Heights) 

Kapalama (Ridge) Ahupuaa 

(lit. the enclosure of lama - not llama, a sacred tree/wood,
S&S story about watching chiefs and princesses before conjugation) 
-triangular shaped ahupuaa with point at inland end in draw
west of Napuumai`a above head of Kapalama Stream)

 Kapalama Stream

 Anuenue (name on 1971 USGS 1:62,500) - Sand Island  
   (- dredging spoils on shallows / reef /mud-flat)
   (see the discussion in Pukui et al -- it is more detailed)

 Mokauea - smaller island off Sand Island  - similar origins  - fishing sheds
 Mokueo Island (varient spellings)

Kalihi Valley  (and Ahupuaa)
 (lit. the (outside) edge or boundary)
 (Nuuanu and Kapalama to the east, Kahauiki and Moanalua to the west)  

 (story - Kalihi was famous as the home of Pele's sister, Kapo
and of Haumea, Pele's mother, who is identified with Papa, wife
of Wakea.  There are many legends but one is that Wakea was tied-up
and being lead away to be sacrificed by men down in Waikiki.
Papa finds this going on, and asks to embrace her husband.  When
she does, his bonds are loosened and fall away and the two
disappear into a tree) 

 east side near Puu Lanihuli 
 Puu Lanihuli (lit. Turning Royal Chief) 
  peak on Koolau ridge on the mauka---diamond head side 
 Kilohana ?=? Puu Kahuauli - peak at mauka-ewa corner 
 Kamanaiki Stream (lit. the small branch ?)
 Kalihi Stream - 
 Puu Nukohe - east side near Wilson Tunnel 

 Hakaio - the middle ridge of Kalihi Valley)
  sub-valleys - Ka-mana-nui on the left  (big branch)
              - Ka-mana-iki on the right (little branch)

Kahauiki (Ahupuaa)  (lit. the little hau tree)
  (triangular, with head above Kahauiki Stream)
  Kahauiki Stream - 

Moanalua (ahupuaa)

 (Trippler Hospital and Airport as prominent current landmarks)

 (ahupuaa has Puu Keahiakahoe at back over pali into Haiku Valley
  and Kaneohe, Red Hill is boundary on the west, then ewa of
  Aliamanu Crater and out to near Kumumau Point, east of the mouth
  of Pearl Harbor.  On the mauka - diamond head corner, its
  Puu Kahuauli (remember from Kahauiki?) 
 Puu Ke-ahi-a-kahoe
  (lit. the fire of Ka-hoe Hill)

 Salt Lake  (Alia-pa`akai)
   (_Alia - salt bed, salt encrusted area, salty)  
   (lit.  salt pond) 
   (Said to have been dug by Pele on her first circuit of the
    Islands.  Some of the viscid matter from her eyes ("eye winkers")
    fell and formed salt.  Some believed the lake to be connected to
    the sea by a hole in the center.)
   (interesting history of development (see Cooper and Daws p305)
    1815 - Kotzbue - romantic valley, salt lake, breadfruit trees,
           loi, banana, beautifully cultivated plain
    1822 - a salt spring was bubbling up and flowing into the lake 
    1900 - runoff from sugar plantations had plugged the spring
    1910 - artesian well to fill it with fresh water and drain to
           Moanalua stream to  contol level
    1927 - it was a freshwater lake, salt had been washed away.
    1966 - "mosquito breeding", "green scum" vs active live lake/wetland 
         - fill & develop vs conserve  - political contention
         - Gov Burns "I believe that there is no intent to
           destroy Salt Lake, but rather to set off a part of it through the
           construction of a golf course which makes some use of it in a
           manner that would enhance its beauty"
    1971 - USGS 1:62,500 Map shows a lake about 1 km in diameter
           which would be based on data from the mid 1960's
    1978 - USGS orthophoto quad shows little lake.

 Alia-manu Crater 
   (lit. Bird Salt Pond) 
   (The Goddess Pele and her
    family once lived here.  When they left, Pele dropped som salt
    and the pet bird of Hi`iaka, Pele's favorite sister, escaped.
    Birds gathered here. --- Pukui et al.) 

 Puu Kapu
   (on east side of the ahupuaa, border between Moanalua and
    Kahauiki to the East)
   (lit. sacred hill)
   (chiefs and commoners are said to have met here to discuss
    important matters)
   (probably where Kalanikupule was sacrificed after capture
    after battle of Nuuanu - Pukui et al. p 152)

 Manaiki Stream
   (passes just west of Puu Kapu and runs into Moanalua Stream
    drainage canal just below Moanalua Gardens) 

 Moanalua Stream

 `I-emi - spring and pond near mouth of Moanalua Stream, watered
          taro lo`i  (lit. less great)

 Ahua Pt (where reef runway's eastern access road is)

 Kumumau Pt  (about where the western access to reef runway is)

 Keehi Lagoon (lit. tread upon)

At least in Fall 2001 we'll skip the  following as being in the Ewa

Red Hill
 North Halawa Stream
 South Halawa Stream
 Halawa Stream

 Makalapa Crater


This is pretty idiosyncratic but, let's take West Honolulu to begin
west of Fort Shafter.

Pearl Harbor 
 West, Middle, East Lochs
 Southeast Loch
 Laulaunui Island ???
 Kekaa pt
 Okiokiolepe Pt
 Waipio Point
 Hammer Pt
 Keahi Pt
 McGrew Pt
 Aiea Bay


End of skipping for Fall 2001!!!!!

Do note the following from your readings:

Features in Macdonald et al. Volcanos in the Sea, Chapter 21, 
"Geology of Oahu"

Pearl Harbor and Sea Level Change 
Waianae Range
Koolau Range

Honolulu Volcanic Series
 (about 2 million years of erosion after Koolau volcano was formed)

 more than 30 separate cinder, spatter and ash cones, and lava flows
 events scattered over hundreds of thousands of years
  time between events longer than time since last one
landmark features - (we'll concentrat on the town side ones)

Diamond Head
Koko Head
Hanamauma Bay
Salt Lake
Sugar Loaf flow
Kaimuki Eruption
Black Point eruption

Rocky Hill
-west of UHManoa Campus
-cinder and spatter cone

Kaau Crater
-circular, ~480m diameter


USGS 1:24,000 and/or 1:62,500 scale Topographic Maps of Oahu.

Macdonald, Abbott, and Peterson Volcanoes in the Sea

Elspeth P. Sterling and Catherine C. Summers, Sites of Oahu

Pukui, Elbert, and Mookini Place Names of Hawaii