Fish ponds at Mauna Lani at sunset

Culture and Heritage at Mauna Lani

Stories of the past meet the people of the present

Inquire & Reserve

Wander amongst cherished lands once reserved for the greatest of Hawaiian royalty within the scenic and storied pockets of Mauna Lani’s 32 acre oceanfront property. Embrace stillness and serenity at the fabled fishpond, Kalāhuipua‘a, or visit the Eva Parker Woods Cottage, where famed golfer and senator, Francis H. I’i Brown, entertained icons of the past with a warm sense of ho’okipa, or hospitality. Step inside Hale ‘I’ike, the Hawaiian phrase for “House of Knowledge,” to talk story with resident historian, Uncle Danny Akaka, who will enlighten you with age-old wisdom and the occasional strum of a ukulele. Ruminate on the knowledge you’ve gained at the edge of Mauna Lani’s saltwater ponds, where caretaker, Pi’i, nurtures endangered Green Sea Turtle hatchlings for their safe return to the Pacific Ocean.

  • Daily complimentary cultural activities

  • Explore Mauna Lani as you absorb ancient Hawaiian history and timeless traditions

Danny Akaka
Books about Hawaii
House of Knowledge at Mauna Lani
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A Sense of Place | Hale'I'ike

Our House of Knowledge

Step inside Hale'I'ike, part cultural center, part museum. Located within the piko of the lobby, our 'House of Knowledge,' is where you can immerse yourself in Hawaii’s extraordinary indigenous living culture. This cherished uncle’s living room is alive with Hawaiian art, and history books through the eras of kings, cowboys, and celestial navigators. Come here to “talk story” with Danny Akaka, the resort’s Kahu Hānai and browse the mesmerizing collection of artifacts. If the resplendent portraits of Hawaiian royals don’t spark your imagination, the octopus fishing lures and shark tooth weapons surely will.

Dive into Conservation at Mauna Lani's Turtle Sanctuary

Established in 1989, the Mālama Honu program creates an awareness of our endangered sea turtles through education and the practice of conservation. In partnership with Sea Life Park, a marine and wildlife center on Oahu, captive-reared hatchlings are sent to Mauna Lani to be cared for in the hotel's saltwater ponds. In two to three years, they grow to a size deemed appropriate for release into the wild.

During the honu's stay, guests from around the world get to visit and learn about the sea turtles. This relationship aids in the future survival of this endangered species. “Sea turtles are some of the most ancient animals,” Pi‘i says. They’ve navigated the world’s oceans for over 100 million years, before the dinosaur age, and are important indicators of healthy marine ecosystems. “You see sea turtles out there, you know you have a healthy reef, a healthy ocean.”

  • 1 Hour | Complimentary | 10 guests maximum
  • Location: Hale ‘I‘ike in the main lobby

For 30 years, Mālama Honu has celebrated releasing turtles on the 4th of July, also known as Turtle Independence Day! Each year, hundreds of visitors join us on our shoreline for this wonderful event. Each turtle receives a Hawaiian name and blessing. It’s just a little something extra to help them survive and thrive in the sea.

  • Yearly on July 4th
  • Location: Mauna Lani Beachfront

Learn Culture through Adventure

Take a hands-on approach to travel when you learn the chords, steps and skills that weave generations together in the spirit of Aloha.

Weaving coconut fronds

Cultural Workshops

Hawaiian artisans and storytellers carry precious threads of knowledge passed down through generations. Whether you pound poi or play a song on the ‘ukulele, connect with the people and practices that make this place so enthralling. Available classes Include:
  • Coconut Frond Weaving | For millennia Hawaiians have elevated coconut weaving to a fine art. Discover how to create attractive mats, baskets, and adornments by learning the art of palm weaving. The leaves of the cocos nucifera, or coconut palm, provide many invaluable resources for the Hawaiian community. Every part of the tree is used – The fruit provides food and water, the fibrous husk can be made into cordage, the base of the trunk can be made into drums, and the leaves can be woven into baskets or used to thatch roofs. | 1 hour, age 10+ years

  • Lei Making | The lei is Hawai‘i’s gift to the world. More than a mere flower garland, it’s a tangible symbol of aloha. Discover different lei styles and practice stringing your own. Of all the souvenirs you can take home from the Islands, the one you make yourself might be the sweetest. | 1 hour, age 10+ years

  • Throw Net & Talk Story | Could you catch a fish like a Hawaiian? Try your hand at throwing net with Danny Akaka along the shoreline of Mauna Lani and the historic Ewa Parker Woods Cottage. | 2.5 hours, age 10+ years

  • Blow the Conch | The ceremonial Hawaiian practice of blowing the conch shell dates back to the ancient times and continues in many present day traditions. Learn how to blow the Pū or Hawaiian Conch shell and discovery its deep Hawaiian culture and significance | 30 minutes, age 10+ years

Hula dancers

Music & Dance

When early Portuguese immigrants brought a small stringed instrument to Hawai‘i, the Hawaiians made it their own. Born out of cultural collaboration, the ‘ukulele is now one of the world’s most popular musical instruments—an instant antidote to the doldrums. Music and dance allow us to tell the story of Hawai'i in a mesmerizing and inspiring way.
  • Basic ‘Ukelele Lessons | During the lesson, you can easily learn ‘ukulele basics: chords, strumming, finger placement, and perhaps a tune. | 1 hour, ages 10+ years

  • Hula Basics | Hula is the storytelling dance of the Hawaiian Islands. We invite you to experience and share the true spirit of Aloha through hula; join us to learn the steps. | 1 hour, ages 10+ years

  • Twilight at Kalāhuipua’a | Each month during the full moon, music lovers bring blankets and folding chairs to the oceanfront lawn at the Eva Parker Woods Cottage. ‘Ukulele and guitar players gather on the lanai (porch) to talk story and play their favorite tunes. | Twilight at Kalāhuipua‘a is held every month, from 5:30-8:30 p.m. on the Saturday closest to the full moon.


Walk through History at Mauna Lani

Kalāhuipua‘a is a raw and potent paradise, the piko (center) of Hawaii's five great volcanoes, and the point where volcanic plains meet the shimmering sea. Mauna Lani sits within Kalāhuipua‘a, a sacred realm whose astonishing natural beauty is equaled only by its primal, magnetic power. To walk this storied coastline, breathe the salt air, and swim in the crystalline waters is to feel the same mana—spiritual energy—that first drew people here centuries ago.
Petroglyphs lavastone Puako Petroglyph Archaeological Preserve

Petroglyph Hikes along the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail

Follow the coastline over ancient fishermen's trails and historical Hawaiian Kingdom roads on this self-guided adventure. The Ala Kahakai National Historic Trails have been connected through generations of use to form a single continuous route. The 223-acre Puako Petroglyph Archaeological Preserve boasts more than 3,000 ancient petroglyphs. Explore lava rock carvings etched into stone, dating back to 1200 AD.

  • Hikes include: Mauna Lani to Honoka'ope Bay hike and Mauna Lani to Puako Petroglyph field hike
  • Available on and off-property, year-round, weather permitting
Mauna Lani Hawaii Talk Story
Danny Akaka

Talk Story

Pull up a chair and let Danny Akaka, the resort’s Kahu Hanai, regale you with mo‘olelo (stories)—tales drawn from the ancient past and his own colorful life. Start with any question: what did the Polynesian voyagers eat while sailing across the world’s biggest ocean? What does the name “Kalāhuipua‘a” mean? The answers are guaranteed to stir your imagination and enrich your experience of the Islands. Don’t be surprised if ten minutes here turns into an hour.

Fish ponds at Mauna Lani

Kalāhuipua'a Historic Walking Tour

An oasis within an oasis, Kalāhuipua‘a Fishponds – located on Mauna Lani’s grounds, are the essence and spiritual center of the resort. Predating even the earliest Western contact, the Loko (ponds), I‘a (fish) are a tangible reminder of the days when the land and sea supported the Ali‘i (royalty) and fishermen who were the original inhabitants of the land that is now known as Mauna Lani. Daniel Akaka, the resort’s Kahu Hānai and renowned Hawaiian historian, offers interactive guided tours throughout the fishponds.

  • 1.5 hours
  • Self-guided walking tours are also available

Read the Stories

Uncle Danny in the Cave with children

Go Connecting with the Spirit of Hawaii

Hiking through Kalāhuipua‘a Historic Park, we stopped along the trail to appreciate the variety of petroglyphs that depict primitive life symbols and provide a view into Hawaiʻi’s rich and ancient history. The area also offers around 40 natural caves composed of lava tubes and partially collapsed lava bubbles that are perfect for exploring, and we were in search of one cave in particular – the mythical “spirit cave”. A short hike from our retreat at Mauna Lani, I was tipped off about the park’s unusual cave during a discussion with Uncle Danny, the resort’s resident expert in Hawaiian history and culture. 

Soaking it all in
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Twilight at Kalāhuipua‘a at Mauna Lani

Celebrate Hawaiian Stars Under the Full Moon

The last time I attended the Twilight at Kalāhuipua‘a concert series, a beautiful Hawaiian woman jumped up from the audience to dance the hula. Barefoot, with a bright red hibiscus tucked behind her ear, she knew every step by heart. The crowd showered her with applause as she swayed in perfect time to the lilting melodies of old Hawaii.

Music Lover
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Ancient Hawaiian Fishpond at Mauna Lani

Do How an Ancient Fishpond Breathes

Fat silver fish turn figure eights beneath the surface of Lāhuipua‘a fishpond. Every now and then I catch the flash of an eel’s tail disappearing into the shadows. A slender rock wall encircles the five-acre coastal pond. It’s one of seven ancient fishponds at Mauna Lani—waters once cherished by Hawaiian kings and fishermen alike. Watching ripples spread across the surface of Lāhuipua‘a, I imagine the hands that built its wall eight hundred years ago.

Lana Smith
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Danny Akaka beneath palm tree with ukulele

Learn Talk Story With Uncle Danny

Danny Akaka, the resort’s resident expert in Hawaiian history and culture, is in high demand. No matter how many people file into the Hale I‘ike cultural center, each one of them receives the full benefit of his beaming smile and gracious attention. Akaka is the embodiment of aloha: generous, unhurried, and brimming with love for Hawai‘i and her people. Diplomacy runs in Akaka’s genes. His father was a respected U.S. Senator, his uncle coined the phrase “aloha spirit,” and his grandmother couldn’t let a tired taro farmer pass by her house without offering refreshment and a shady place to rest.

Music Lover
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Experiences at Mauna Lani