About 8,000 years ago, dunes began forming atop Makawehi as sections of the sandy shoreline accumulated a reddish fossil soil overlay. This area became known as Pā‘ā Dunes, meaning “fence of lava rock” or “dry and rocky.”
The tradewinds blowing from the northeast or mauka (mountain) side of this area have had the most dominant influence determining the shape of the dunes along this section of coast, with kona winds from the southwest having a minor influence.
Erosion of the dunes has revealed land/tree snail fossils in the reddish fossil soils (paleosoils) found between the sand dune deposits. Also found are root casts called rhizocretions, the sand tubes cemented around the root of a living plant (usually the naupaka kahakai).
The shoreline corridor begins at Makawehi Point, where a trail across the Pā‘ā dunes affords pedestrian access from the Po‘ipu resort area to Punahoa Point and Māhā‘ulep? Beach.
This popular recreation area features crescents of sandy beach, a variety of coastal vegetation, windblown modern dunes, and a fossil?rich lithified dune system that forms fantastic cliffs, points and pinnacles overlooking the water.