The Pali Lookout: Beautiful views, bloody battle

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

By Nik Streng
Special to 3D Travel, Inc.

Driving around Oahu, you'll find dozens of scenic lookouts that display the island's stunning beauty. None, however, boasts the historical significance of the Pali Lookout, where the Battle of Nuuanu cemented King Kamehameha I's unification of the Hawaiian Islands under one kingdom.

Kamehameha (pictured) began his quest on the Big Island in the 1780s. English citizens John Young and Isaac Davis became important military advisors, supplying Kamehameha's forces with modern weapons such as muskets and cannons. By 1791, he had defeated the Big Island's other rival chiefs.

Meanwhile, King Kahekili II, who ruled over Maui and Oahu, forged a trade deal with English merchant William Brown for use of Oahu's southern harbors, in which Brown would provide support against Kamehameha. Upon Kahekili's death, his son, Kalanikupule, ascended.

In 1795, Kamekameha set sail for Maui with 10,000 soldiers. Unable to withstand his onslaught there, Queen Kalola, the sister of Kahekili, married off her granddaughter, Keopuolani, to the great king, uniting the islands of Maui and Molokai under him.

Kamehameha then targeted Oahu, meeting Kalanikupule's army near Punchbowl crater (today the site of the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific), where he was overwhelmed. With their king injured by cannon fire. Kalanikupule's forces retreated into Nuuanu Valley, where they were driven to the top of the Pali, sandwiched between Kamehameha's army and a 1,000-foot drop. Hundreds of warriors fell to their deaths. The more distant islands of Kauai and Niihau held out for several years before its chief, Kaumualii, agreed to join Kamehameha's kingdom in 1810.

Apart from its historical significance, the Pali Lookout boasts one of the most spectacular views of the island, overlooking the towns of Kaneohe and Kailua, Kaneohe Bay and the expansive Koolau Mountains. Be advised: It is often rainy here and buffeted by high winds. To the right of the lookout is a ramp where the winds hit the mountain at such speeds, it is possible stay aloft if you lean into it. Put a lanyard on anything you don't want blown away.

Ask anyone: Catching the view from the Pali Lookout is a don't-miss activity when you visit Oahu. It's yours only for the price of parking: $3. Even better, it's free if you visit with someone with a Hawaii driver's license.

Oahu Must-See Sights | Oahu Scenic Lookouts | Pali Lookout | Hawaiian History »
Oahu Must-See Sights | Punchbowl | National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific | Military History »

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