Located next to Shipwreck Beach in South Kauai, these ancient limestone sea cliffs have been virtually sandblasted by a combination of wind, salt and water over millions of years. Lithified cliffs form as weathered fragments are removed by erosion and transported by gravity, running water, glaciers, waves, and wind. These weathered rock fragments then eventually come to rest as layers of loose, unconsolidated material called sediment. This material may subsequently be subjected to compaction and cementation, causing it to be lithified into solid rock.
Sediment is lithified when it is compacted by the weight of overlying layers and cemented as percolating ground water fills pores with mineral matter. When sea levels drop, these cliffs are exposed as we see them today at Makawehi. This entire particular stretch of Kaua'i's coastline is also a treasure trove of fossils, petroglyphs, and burial grounds. The numerous fossils in the sand can also be explained by the lithified cliffs as they formed under water. As fish and other organisms died they would fall on top of the sediment layers and eventually be covered up by new layers. This allows them to be preserved as the fossils we find in the sand today. Please do not remove these fossils from the cliffs and sand so that others may also enjoy them. This area is considered particularly sacred and valuable to both locals and conservationists. Take Highway 50 from Hanapepe and turn right on to highway 520 toward Po'ipu. Turn right onto Koloa Road and then left on Po'ipu Road. The cliffs are located at the east end of Shipwreck Beach.

Article Edited/Contributed by: John Derrick

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