Hawaii October 21, 2018
You’ll Want To Visit This Underrated Marsh In Hawaii Before Word Gets Out
Though the Hawaiian Islands are surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, the islands are no stranger to inland bodies of water. From man-made reservoirs and mountaintop lakes to winding rivers, spectacular swamps, and magnificent marshes, Hawaii’s inland bodies of water are nearly as gorgeous as our beaches — but far more underrated. Today, we’re taking you on an adventure to an off-the-beaten-path marsh with unmatched views and plenty of natural beauty.
Located on the windward side of Oahu at the base of the Ko’olau Mountains is the Kawai Nui Marsh. At more than 800 acres in size, it is the largest wetlands found in the Hawaiian Islands. Given its size and history as a major body of water when the area was first settled by Polynesians, Kawai Nui translates to "the big water" in Hawaii.
The protected marsh is home to a variety of migratory, introduced, and indigenous birds, including several endangered birds. Birdwatchers will love visiting the Kawai Nui Marsh, but that’s not all you’ll find here.
The wetland area is also home to dozens of species of fish and other aquatic life as well as rare, native flora. This area was once a thriving fishpond for ancient Hawaiians, and today is covered almost entirely by plants.
Kawai Nui is now not only a significant habitat for native species but the largest wetland in the state and an important watershed.
The best way to experience this natural wonder today is by embarking on the easy 2.9-mile paved trail that weaves its way through the marsh. A leisurely afternoon stroll wasn’t necessarily what they had in mind when creating this path, though: it serves double duty as a flood control levee.
The path is perfect for walking, jogging, biking, and stroller pushing, and you can often expect to have the trail mostly to yourself — especially if you visit on a weekday.
Can we just take a moment to appreciate the views you’ll find here? While there are countless places to take in the ethereal beauty of the Ko’olau Mountains, there is perhaps none more peaceful than Kawai Nui.
Whether you fancy a morning jog or a leisurely afternoon spent walking and taking photographs, a visit to the Kawai Nui Marsh absolutely must be on your Hawaii bucket list.
Owned by both the State of Hawaii and the City and County of Honolulu, the Kawai Nui Marsh is open daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Have you ever visited this overlooked slice of paradise? Share your experiences with us in the comments below, and then join our
Hawaii Nature Lovers Facebook group to share your own photographs and discover new natural wonders like one of the last remaining freshwater springs in Hawaii.