— Waikīkī Historic Trail —
Fish were easily netted from the ponds near Pi?inaio Stream.
In ancient times, thearea was home to many Hawaiian families, who enjoyed the offerings in its bountiful waters. It was not unusual to see native men and women fishing, diving, and gathering seaweed here. Originally, the Pi?inaio was Waikīkī's third stream, which entered the ocean here where the ?Ilikai Hotel now stands. Unlike the Kuekaunahi and?Apuakēhau streams, the mouth of the Pi?inaio was a large, muddy delta intersected by several small tributary channels. These three streams fed a natural irrigation system that supported taro fields, fishponds, and migrant waterfowl. After the arrival of the Chinese in the 19th century, rice fields andduckponds were added. The word ?Ilikai literally means "the surface of the sea," a fitting tribute to an area where the ocean was filled with fish, eels, shrimp, lobster, octopus, crab, and limu (seaweed). The fishermen of Kālia caught so much that they becameknown as "human fishnets."
As recently as the 1930s,residents of Kālia describedthe area as "one of the mostproductive seafood producing baysever known." In season, theywould see thousands of whitecrabs on the beach and catch themeasily by the bucket full. After theinevitable development of thisarea, the abundant fishponds andreefs of the old Kālia beach settlement, like the simple Hawaiianlifestyle practiced by its residents, are nostalgic memories. The Paoa?ohana (family) were well-known residents of the Kālia district, the most famous member being Duke Paoa Kahanamoku, who grew up to be the world's greatest swimmer. His teenage years were spent in this area, where he practiced the skills that would lead him to the Olympics.
"The whole distance to the village of Whyteete (Waikīkī) is taken up with innumerable artificial fish ponds extending a mile inland from shore. In these the fish taken by net from the sea are put, and though most of the ponds are fresh water, yet the fish seem to thrive and fatten." —Andres Bloxam, naturalist on the H.M.D. Blonde, 1828.