A few months ago my family and I decided to make Keālia pond and boardwalk our Maui outing — we so rarely take advantage of free time to enjoy sightseeing our own island that thousands come to visit annually.
Keālia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, growing up I knew it as Mud Flats…it is one of the most beautiful places to visit. It is steps away from a major roadway, highway 310, but is teeming with wildlife. The 700 acres was designated as a wildlife refuge in 1992, and is now one of the few remaining wetlands in the Hawaiian islands.
The refuge is host to more than 30 species of birds and is home to the endangered ae‘o (Hawaiian stilt), ‘alae ke‘oke‘o (Hawaiian coot), and the koloa (Hawaiian duck). In spring and early summer, the water level recedes and Keālia may have more than half the statewide population of ae‘o. Migratory birds come from their winter time habitats to fill the pond from late summer to early spring. It is an important area in the state for wintering migratory waterfowl. The shallow mudflat areas provide a suitable nesting, feeding, and resting habitat for endangered waterbirds.
Other Hawaiian wildlife can be found there as well. The endangered Hawaiian hawksbill turtles nest on the adjacent beach during the summer months. The Blackburn’s Sphinx moth, Hawaii’s largest insect with a wingspan up to 5 inches makes its home there as well! YIKES! But don’t worry they are harmless and look like night time hummingbirds.
We hope during your visit to the Old Wailuku Inn at Ulupono and Maui you will take the opportunity to visit the natural wonder of Keālia Pond to learn more about the Hawaiian wetlands and the plants, animals, and insects that call it home.
Find out more about Keālia Pond National Wildlife Refuge.