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Shipwreck Beach

Kaiolohia (Shipwreck) Beach, Lanai

Shipwreck Beach on Lanai, also known as Kaiolohia, is known for its shallow reef and strong currents. It has wrecked many ships in the past, hence its name. The Alderman Wood, a British vessel got into trouble and sank here in 1824 – which is the first documented shipwreck. Two years later, the London, an American ship, met its fate. The London was believed to have gold and silver on board, and it is uncertain how much of it was ever recovered.

The shipwreck after which this beach is named that can still be seen today is popularly referred to as a World War II Liberty Ship. However, it is a ferrocement (reinforced concrete) gasoline barge built for the Navy in 1943. Instead of a name, these type of ships were just given a number designation. This particular ship was YOGN 42. It was purposely grounded. After the war ended, this was the most economical way to dispose of the vessel.

Shipwreck Beach is a remote beach on Lanai's north shore, and besides a few green sea turtles sunning themselves on the beach and maybe a lonely fisherman, there's only peace and quiet here. A short walk past the Shipwreck sign, there is a trail that leads about 200 yards (180 m) inland to the Kukui Point petroglyphs.

The white, sandy beach is a beachcomber's delight, revealing shells, rocks and odd debris thanks to the strong winds and slamming waves that pound the shore. Stroll the 8 miles (13 km) of Shipwreck Beach and hike up the overlooking hill for a one-of-a-kind view.

A once-functional lighthouse nearby lies in ruins, adding to the ancient feeling of the scene. Due to the strong currents, only highly-experienced surfers and bodyboarders should brave these waters.

Shipwreck Beach Overview

  • Old shipwreck still sits on the reef offshore
  • Ancient petroglyphs (rock carvings) in this area
  • Not a good swimming beach due to strong currents and shallow, rocky nearshore ocean bottom

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