Waikapuna is rich in Native Hawaiian and paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) cultural heritage. Its ancient fishing village includes house sites, heiau, lava tube caves, and ancient trails, surrounded by large stands of native coastal vegetation, a sandy bay, tidepool complex, and sea caves home to native, endangered birds. Two ranchers lease the majority of the 2,317 acre property for grazing over 500 head of grass-fed cattle. This land is actively ranched, and public access is administered by the Ala Kahakai Trail Association.
Much of what we know today of Waikapuna is from the intimate knowledge and experiences of revered Hawaiian scholar Mary Kawena Pukui. Kawena spent her childhood summers at Waikapuna with her grandmother who passed on her precious cultural and familial knowledge that provided a foundation upon which the 20th century Hawaiian cultural renaissance and beyond has relied.
The Trust for Public Land purchased and protected Waikapuna for the Kaʻū community with ownership by the nonprofit, Ala Kahakai Trail Association, restricting its use to agricultural and cultural preservation, protecting hundreds of Native Hawaiian cultural sites and native habitat, and enhancing access to the coastal Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail. The Ala Kahakai Trail Association will work with the Kaʻū community to steward this precious cultural landscape for generations to come.