Best things to Do on Maui: The Red Waters of the Wai'anapanapa Caves - Legendary Freshwater Caves

The Red Waters of the Wai'anapanapa Caves - Legendary Freshwater Caves

Sea Cave in Wai'anapanapa State Park

Sea Cave in Wai'anapanapa State Park

The caves of Wai'anapanapa are believed to be the scene of a tragic legend that ended in the murder of Princess Popo'alaea. She ran away from Chief Kakae due to his jealousy and cruelty. She and her attendant hid in these caves until her reflection was seen by Ka'akea. Every spring, for one night, red shrimp cover the cave floor, turning it blood red. Some believe that this annual event marks the anniversary of Chief Kakae's gruesome murder of Princess Popo'alaea and her friend.

Today, visitors can enter the caves and even swim in the cool anchialine pools of the Wai'anapanapa Caves, fresh water pools that float in a layer above the heavier salt water that comes up from the Pacific Ocean below. Wai’anapanapa means “glistening water”, which refers to the numerous stunning ocean vistas in the area. Many believe the mineral-rich waters of these caves are good for the skin.