Final phase underway to transform Kahalu'u Ma Kai into world-class educational site

Sept. 21, 2020

Contributed by Crystal Kua

Kamehameha Schools is in the final construction phase for the transformation of Kahalu‘u Ma Kai into a 22-acre world-class educational and cultural gathering place.

Construction is underway on a comfort station with restrooms and showers that would be used by school groups participating in educational and cultural programming. Additional improvements include a security station, landscaping and other supporting structures as well as repairs to Kalani Kai and Hāpaiali‘i heiau. Completion is slated for early 2021.

“We look forward to welcoming back and engaging with keiki and their ‘ohana next year, so they are able to once again walk in the footsteps of our kūpuna at this wahi pana or celebrated place,” KS West Hawai‘i Regional Director Kaimana Barcarse said. “We are pleased at the progress toward Kahalu‘u Ma Kai serving as the piko for Native Hawaiian ʻāina-based, science, technology, engineering, arts and math education in West Hawai‘i.”

Interior alteration, or “soft demolition,” of the old Keauhou Beach Hotel interior began in May 2017 and was completed in September 2017. All wood, plaster, glass, drywall, and other interior materials were removed, leaving only the building’s exterior walls and structural framework.

In November 2017, demolition crews began removing the exterior shell of the hotel. No explosives or wrecking balls were used. Instead, a high-reach excavator and remote-controlled demolition robots were used to dismantle the building in sections. During the removal process, independent, third-party monitors ensured best practices were followed to protect water quality, endangered species, the environment, and cultural sites.

Approximately 21,000 tons or more than 90 percent of construction materials generated from the demolition work were recycled. The demolition of the hotel was completed August 2018.

In February 2019, a new phase of the project commenced to redevelop the site for educational and cultural use. The construction work includes:

  • Site grading
  • Landscaping and irrigation improvements
  • Site utilities
  • Security facilities
  • A new comfort station
  • Parking lot improvements
  • Public shoreline access and managed public access paths
  • Repairs to Kalani Kai
  • Repairs to Hāpaiali‘i Heiau

Hilo-based Isemoto Contracting Co. is the general contractor for the project. For more information, or if you have questions or concerns, please email