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CRAMP Study Sites, Island of Lāna‘i

Hulopo‘e-Mānele -- Shipwreck

Island of Lāna‘i

CRAMP has five Rapid Assessment sites on the NW coast of Lāna‘i at Palaoa, Hulopo‘e, Keanapapa, Kalaeāhole, and Ka‘āpahu. CRAMP has also conducted extensive mapping efforts of the entire coastline. Ground-truthing and accuracy assessment efforts are on-going.

Hulopo‘e-Mānele has been monitored by Dr. Richard Brock and by the State of Hawai‘i, Division of Aquatic Resources (HDAR) for a number of years. A second site at Shipwreck Beach has been monitored by HDAR.

View of Lāna‘i and Moloka‘i from space.

View of Lāna‘i and Moloka‘i from space.

Geographic Name: Lāna‘i

CRAMP site code: La

Geographic Location:

20° 50‘N, 157° 57‘W

Lāna‘i is located west of Maui and approximately 15 km south of Moloka‘i.

Physical Features (Physiography):

Lāna‘i is the sixth largest of the eight main Hawaiian Islands with an area of 36,520 ha. Lāna‘i Island is the emergent portion of a single volcano. The highest point is Lāna‘ihale Peak at 1020 m (3370 ft). Island slopes on the easterly side are steep and cut by gulches. Western slopes are gentler. The south central portion of the island between elevations of 300 m and 600 m is a flat plain known as the Pālāwai Basin, which was the major pineapple-growing region of the island until recently.

Reef Structure, Habitat Classification:

Reef development is best along the north and north-east coasts because these areas fall into the "wave shadow" of Moloka‘i and Maui and are partially protected from the winter north swell. Sandy beaches occur along the he north and northwest coastline. Coral reefs are less developed on the south and west sides of the island due to exposure to the summer south swell. Steep cliffs occur along the west and south coasts. These are eroding volcanic coastlines due to extreme wave erosion and presence of deep water offshore.

Physical Oceanography:

North shores are partially protected by Moloka‘i and Maui from winter storm surf. South shores receive full impact of summer south swell. Storm surf from Hurricane‘Iniki damaged reef communities along the south coast in September 1992. Recovery of the damaged areas took nearly 5 years.

Adjacent Land Tenure, Land Use:

Most of the land on Lāna‘i (98%) is owned by the Castle and Cooke Inc., a privately held company headed by David Murdock. David Murdock has announced plans to build new roads, sidewalks and apartment houses on the island ("Massive Investment Planed for Lāna‘i" by Frank Cho, Honolulu Advertiser, Nov. 19, 2000, p. A1). Approximately one-fifth of the island was formerly under cultivation for pineapple, but economics led to abandonment of pineapple growing and a shift to development of resorts and diversified agriculture.

Human Use Patterns:

Commercial tours originating on Maui conduct snorkel, SCUBA and fishing excursions to Lāna‘i. Increased resort development is leading to more frequent use by visitors and residents on the island. Private boats from various islands frequent Mānele Harbor and visit various sites along the Lāna‘i coastline. subsistence fishing and gathering of seaweed and‘opihi (limpets) is a common activity by local residents.

Economic Value and Social Benefits:

The recent phasing out of pineapple and shift toward resort development places increased economic value on the reefs as resource for tourist development. Some of the best diving in Hawaiian waters is found off Lāna‘i, which is a regular destination for many diving and fishing charters coming from Maui. Large beds of the black corals Antipathes dichotoma and Antipathes grandis occur at depths of 40 m to 110 m off the north coast.

Status (Degree of Legal Protection):

Open access for most of the coastline. The submerged lands and overlying waters of Hulopo‘e Bay and Mānele Bay are regulated as a Marine Life Conservation District. Mānele Boat Harbor has been designated as a Marine Fisheries Management Area.

Management Concerns:

The major focus is on human use, especially in those areas with good reef development. Concern over exploitation of the rich reef areas of Hulopo‘e and Mānele Bays led to declaration of Hulopo‘e Bay and Mānele Bay as Marine Life Conservation Districts (MLCDs) in 1976. With the demise of pineapple growing and the shift to resort and residential development, there is increasing focus on effects of increasing human contact with the reefs and increasing resort development. The rich reefs of Lāna‘i are increasingly being visited by excursion boats from Maui.


Last Update: 04/21/2008

By: Lea Hollingsworth

Kuulei revisions

Hawai‘i  Coral Reef Assessment & Monitoring Program

Hawai‘i  Institute of Marine Biology

P.O. Box 1346

Kāne‘ohe, HI 96744

808-236-7440 phone

808-236-7443 fax