The name Awa’awapuhi, means “eel valley” which refers to a puhi (freshwater eel) named Kuna who, searching for a new home on Kauai, swam along the cliffs. He thought this mountain was interesting, so he slithered up the cliffs to explore. The eel gouged out the valley on his way up, which gives the valley its shape today. The legend states it was a cold day and the eel became sluggish and fell asleep on his way up. Later a group of native Hawaiians from Kalalau on their way to Waimea, came upon this very large eel lying stiff and straight beside the trail. They prodded and poked it with no reaction, so they decided it was dead and it would make them a fine meal. They tried to curl it up so it would fit into a cooking pit, but they could not rearrange the eel in any way. Instead they lined the eel on both sides with rocks, piled firewood on top, and set it on fire. This woke the eel and Kuna ate all the people before returning to the sea. The rocks are still there, a parallel line of stones that marks the length of the eel, and the area was named Ka-Lua-puhi, “eel pit”.
Awa’awapuhi is a narrow, steep-sided valley extending from the sea to its headwaters on the south end of Kahuama’a Flat in the mountains. There are remains of taro terraces ranging from 2 – 4 feet high and many house sites on both sides of the stream.
The Awa’awapuhi is a powerful and majestic place to sightsee from our Kauai boat tours along the Napali Coast.