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Kahekili’s Leap - The Birthplace of Cliff-Jumping in Hawaii

Kahekili's LeapKahekili’s Leap, also known as Kahakuloa Head or Warriors Leap, is a popular rock ledge on Lanai's south shore. According to ancient Hawaiian legend, the rock was the birthplace of cliff jumping and was used by King Kahekili, Maui’s last independent ruler in the mid-1700s and the chief rival of Kamehameha, to test his warriors' loyalty and bravery.

Lele Kawa, or leaping feet first from a cliff into the water without splashing, was a sport enjoyed by Kahekili. Legend has it the king would climb up the rock in the early mornings and jump 200 feet into the water below. What's more challenging is the fact that the rocks at the base of the cliff extend about 15 feet outwards and the water is only about 10-20 feet deep with a very rocky ocean floor.

Surviving every jump unscathed, Kahekili became some sort of a god in the eyes of his warriors and people. Lele kawa eventually evolved into a test of loyalty and bravery for warriors. Today, the legendary cliff is used as a venue for cliff diving competitions open to very skilled athletes. Beginners should not attempt cliff jumping here as it can be fatal to the inexperienced.

Apart from extreme cliff jumpers, the Kahekili’s Leap is also popular among hiking aficionados. However, going there is an extreme adventure in itself, requiring a four-wheel-drive and a very skilled driver. The drive is challenging and includes navigating gulches and narrow dirt roads along sea cliffs without guard rails. Once you reached the top, you will be rewarded with spectacular views of the ocean.

How to get there:
From Lanai City, take Highway 440 west toward Kaumalapau Harbor. Past the airport turnoff, turn left onto Kaupili Road, which is an unmarked dirt road. After about 2.5 miles (4 km), you’ll see a yellow water pipe on the right. Make a right turn here. This road goes downhill and leads to Kaunolu and Kahekili's Leap after about 3 miles (4.8 km).

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