Current conditions at Keawaʻula Beach
Beach & Nearshore
Our course after leaving this place [Makua] lay about W. by N. and along a difficult path by the sea which is here bounded by the base of the mountains. On one hand was the broken and rough lava against which the surge below was dashing and on the other the steep and rugged sides of the mountains. At about 12 o'clock we arrived at Keavaula, an indifferent village, but the place of a school. Journals of Levi Chamberlain, 1822-1849.
Keawaʻula, or the red harbor, was named for large schools of muheʻe, or squid, that once gathered here near shore. Muheʻe, normally transparent, change their color to bright red when they congregate seasonally to reproduce.
One of two beaches in Kaʻena Point State Park, Keawaʻula is popularly known as Yokohama, also the name of a surf site in the center of its sand beach. The name Yokohama is related to the Japanese fishermen who frequented the beach in the early 1900s, often riding the OR& L trains that ran from Honolulu around Kaʻena Point to Haleʻiwa until 1947. Yokohama is the port city in Japan that most Japanese immigrants to HawaiʻI sailed from and evolved as a nickname for the beach. In an article called Pana Waialua in the Honolulu Advertiser on February 12, 1933, the author identifies the railroad stopping place Yokohama, an indication that the name was already in common use by the 1930's.
The wide sand beach at Keawaʻula lies between two rocky points. Without the protection of a reef offshore, it is subject to high surf and strong currents throughout the year. For beachgoers heading west along the Waiʻanae coast, Keawaʻula is the last sand beach before Kaʻena Point. The shore at Kaʻena Point, rocky and backed by sand dunes, is frequented primarily by fishers and hikers. No vehicles are allowed beyond Keawaʻula.