– Ho’opi’i Info

Project Ike Lea: Tourism Survey & Questionnaire


In October 2018, The County of Kauai Office of Economic Development commissioned Kaiaulu Papaloa to design and conduct a Visitor Survey for Hoopii Waterfalls. Currently, there are no plans at the State & Federal Level to address any issues related to “visitor overcrowding” at Hoopii Waterfalls.The name of the project is Ike Lea – to move forward with knowledge to make informed decisions. Data collected from surveys will give the community and agencies a better understanding of the type of visitors that visit cultural sites like Hoopii and what is encouraging these visitors to go to a location that is not a “well known” visitor destination.

Survey Area:  

Project Ike Lea takes place at the entrance of Hoopii Waterfalls in Kapahi, Kapaa, Puna Moku, Kauai in a “neighborhood setting”.  The entrance to the valley is also the old Kapahi County Road. It is no longer a functional road but serves as a trail and entrance to Hoopii Waterfalls.


  • Design & implement a visitor industry survey that gathers data about guests to Hoopii falls (and that can also be used in county capacity studies).
  • Interview community about their perceptions of visitors to Hoopii Waterfalls.
  • Install a computerized counting system to obtain quantitative data.
  • Convene a group of visitor industry stakeholders and community members.
  • Determine possible plans to manage guests that are visiting a tourist destination in a “local neighborhood”.
  • Provide practical recommendations that protect the natural and social environment and encourage mutual respect of our community and the visitors who are our guests here.


Kaiaulu believes we are early enough in the process at Hoopii falls that there is still time to address the issue of “visitor overuse impacting residents”, before it becomes a bigger problem.  The community self-identified this overuse problem and then it became a further issue/problem since the April 2018 floods that have closed the North shore from Hanalei to Haena taking a major tourist destination out and sending  tourists to Hoopii.

Like other cultural sites in neighborhoods like Kapahi around Hawaii, our cultural sites are being openly introduced in travel guides and on online websites without permission and understanding. Visitors come to our neighborhoods based on what they read: online and in travel guides. Visiting a local neighborhood – the impacts are real, especially when the visits are unexpected. Also, in regards to times of natural disasters – strategic plans now have to involve agencies and organizations that deal with the visitor industry.

This proposed survey & study is founded on the Hawaiian word, pono or balance. The tenants of our proposed visitor/community survey are aligned to several objectives in the Kauai Tourism Strategic Plan including:

  1. Lai Ka Nohona – to design surveys that are meant to make positive contributions to the quality of life for residents in my neighborhood (larger community as well), addressing an issue that impacts community,
  2. Pilina- to conduct surveys meant to build positive relationships between the community, agency, and visitors (to interview visitors & community with the manao to increase positive communications, interactions and understanding between stakeholder groups, especially between residents and the visitors industry),
  3. Kaanalike– to openly share with visitors about our place as we conduct interviews that serve to reinforce authentic Native Hawaiian and local Kaua’i culture which are the foundations of our unique sense of place;
  4. Hoomau- recommendations from the surveys will also include information that directly contributes to the preservation and enhancement of the natural resources on Kaua’i, including land and ocean.

Project Ike Lea takes a grassroots approach to problem solving that allows us to continuously adapt, reflect and respond immediately, to stay focused on real island issues. There is prudence and wisdom in using this approach – namely, a great deal of deference & respect to the communities, families, and practitioners that will inform the proposed visitor/community survey.

The survey consists of questions in six (6) different areas:

  1. Demographics (home origin, age, gender, etc.)
  2. Information Sources (Prior Knowledge)
  3. Visitor Expectations (Prior Information vs. Experience)
  4. Issues (Barriers to reach destination)
  5. Interests & Experiences (Rating Experience)
  6. Recommendations (What we could do to improve situation for everyone)

Survey areas come from Kaiaulu research and a literature review focused on case studies involving tourists visiting wahi pana (cultural sites), wahi kapu (sacred sites), and other kipuka (places where cultural and spiritual practices take place).

Please contact us if you are interested in taking a survey or providing an interview on your thoughts about this sacred area.


Hoopii Valley Waterfalls Background Information

Na Kamealoha Hanohano Smith

The name of the valley is Awaawaaloa and it is the home of an ancient agricultural complex. It is the home of two wailele, Ohinu & Opaekaa.

There are several cultural physical artifacts that remain intact, including terraced loi kalo patches & ahu: places where hookupu took place to honor, perhaps Lono, Kane, and (based on the type of native plants) Laka. We also have several traditional auwai that run adjacent to the stream that runs down the middle of Awaawaaloa. The name of the stream is Kapaa Stream. In the not so distant past, there was a larger “pool” of native oopu, opae, and opaenui (prawns). One can still find native fish, but you would have to travel mauka. Kapaa Stream is a major stream that feeds water to this and other areas in East Kauai.

Makaleha is the name of the mountain in the area, Kapahi is the name of the Ili at the “top” of the valley, Keahapana is the name of ili that lays at the bottom of Awaawaaloa. No one lives in the valley. The names of the winds/rains that come through the valley include Kehau, which is the early morning wind that comes from Makaleha and usually leaves drops of water on the valley plants. By the evening, the winds switch from mauka to Makai. Moae winds from the Northeast seem to be met by the Kamalamalama winds, that are more local and produce some afternoon showers for the area. This, supplies the valley with ample water.

Currently area residents go there to fish, hunt, and gather for hula and luau. In addition to this, there are many, many visitors to

Awaawaaloa. There is a trail that starts in Kapahi and ends at the bridge in Keapana. A few years ago, maybe only a handful of visitors came to this valley and mostly just to take pictures & enjoy the beautiful sites.

However, in the past few years there has been a spiked increase of visitors. The last count we did indicate that there are as many as

4000-5000 visitors a month. Our non-profit, Kaiaulu Papaloa has some kuleana to the area. We are currently trying to complete an EA so we can apply for the long term lease. We currently have a DLNR Right of Entry to do minimal work.

We have a partnership with the County to get funding to do a community & visitor survey to collect both quantitative

and qualitative data to move forward with community and agency engagement meetings to address current issues. We will follow up with a Feasibility Study.

In addition to this, we will also be starting a new Kilo Practitioners cohort for area youth. We train area at-risk youth in how to become a modern day Kilo Practitioner; collecting data about different native plants & aquatic life in the valley to complete a local Hawaiian Moon Calendar.  We are also working with various County, State, and Federal Agencies to clean-up the green waste debris leftover from the April 2018 floods.

Kaiaulu has been in the valley for a few years now. However, the biggest challenge in moving forward with more impactful programs are the lack of resources we need to complete things like a EA. With a DEA, we can apply for the long term lease of the valley and actually develop programs focused on replanting, improving the quality of water, restoring the auwai system, & working more closely with area schools to engage students in project-based learning, etc.

We have a positive relationship with the County, State, and Federal Agencies we work with. We are also happy that our non-profit has a good relationship with the community as well. It is not Hawaiian Homestead, so the area is mixed. However, most of the people who use the resources for traditional purposes are Kanaka: the ancestral caretakers of this area.

As we complete a Program DEA, a Feasibility Study, & intentional strategic planning with agencies and stakeholders, we will create opportunities for economic prosperity. Many Kanaka are seeking opportunities to do work, really honest work, that is more closely related to Aloha Aina.

Aloha Aina jobs allow us to engage visitors, teach keiki/opio, without compromising our value system.

We currently have a request in to DLNR to extend our DLNR Right of Entry or the upper part of the valley. The TMK information is in the permit request. The second DLNR paperwork is an application for the lower part of the stream, just outside of Awaawaaloa Valley, Keahapana. We are applying for the second DLNR ROE to allow us access to clean up the green waste debris.

I hope this moolelo about our area is helpful.

Aole I Pau

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