Olowalu is a community on the west side of the island of Maui in the state of Hawaii. It is located about 4 miles (6.4 km) south of Lahaina on the Honoapiʻilani Highway.
It sustained a large population, governed by the high chiefess Kalola, daughter of Maui ruler Kekaulike, and grandmother of Keopuolani. It was home to a traditional farming community until the arrival of the Europeans, who replaced it with a sugarcane plantation. The massacre in 1790 described below, as well as the labor-hungry sandalwood trade, contributed to the site’s decline. A substantial real estate development is under consideration for the area. The area is home to one of Hawaii’s most striking reefs.
From ancient times, Olowalu was considered a place of refuge, or puʻu honua, by Hawaiians. Persons pursued for committing an offense against a family group or an ali’i (royal) were untouchable once they stepped inside its borders. Violating sanctuary was punishable by death. For Pacific Island cultures, maintaining a peaceful order was a deep cultural tenet. For people on Maui, Olowalu created an interval of space and time to resolve disputes.