Located near Kualoa Ranch
, the Moli’i Pond is an ancient Hawaiian fishpond dating back some 900 years. Surrounded by the ocean and the Ko’olau Mountains, the Moli’i Pond is home to a variety of fish species. Built pre-contact with Westerners, the fishpond is an ingenious invention to capture and raise fish as a food source.
Hawaiians built rock walls to allowed sea water to flow into the ponds. In these walls, Hawaiians constructed special gates that circulate new seawater and allowed small fish in. These young fish would then feed and grow in the pond, becoming too large to exit through the small holes in the wall. Thus, the fish were trapped and continued to breed, giving Hawaiian chiefs a source of delicious food.
The Moli’i Pond is one of the largest fishponds in Hawaii: covering approximately 125 acres and between 4 to 30 feet deep. Moli’i Pond is also, thanks to the ownership of Kualoa Ranch
, one of the most well preserved ancient fishponds in Hawaii.
The fish from the ponds was primarily reserved for the ali’i (chiefs). Fishponds were a sign of the chiefs’ wealth (per mauifishpond.com). If you were a commoner who was caught eating fish out of the fishpond, you were subject to death.
Dr. Gerritt P. Judd purchased the Kualoa land division from King Kamehameha III in 1850. His newly acquired land included the fishpond, along with a huge area in the Ka’a’wa Valley and where Kualoa Ranch
currently resides. Today Judd's descendants, the Morgan family, own and operate the Kualoa Ranch
Moi (threadfish), 'ama'ama (mullet) and awa (milkfish) are raised in it.
Contrary to Google Maps, the neighboring pond (due east) is actually ‘Apua Pond, which has not been in use for over 100 years. The ‘Apua fishpond is accessible via the Kualoa Regional Park, where the Chinaman’s Hat (Mokoli’I Island) is located.