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Channels of the Hawaiian Islands: Map

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In an archipelago like the Hawaiian Islands the water between islands is typically called a channel or passage. Described here are the channels between the islands of Hawai imarker, arranged from southeast to northwest.

Alenuihāhā Channel

The Alenuihāhā separates the island of Hawai imarker and the island of Mauimarker. The maximum depth of this channel is 6100 feet (1900 m).

Alalākeiki Channel

The Alalakeiki Channel separates the islands of Kahoʻolawemarker and Mauimarker. Alalakeiki means "crying baby."

Kealaikahiki Channel

Ke ala i kahiki channel is the channel between Lāna imarker and Kaho olawemarker. It literally means "the road to Tahitimarker"; if one takes a bearing off of Kealaikahiki Point on Kaho olawe while in the channel and heads directly straight, one arrives, more or less, in Tahiti. In practice, however, Polynesian navigators probably did not quite ply a straight route to Tahiti.

Au au Channel

The Au au Channel is one of the most protected areas of ocean in the Hawaiian Islands, lying between Lāna imarker and Maui. The channel is also protected by Moloka imarker to the north, and Kaho olawe to the south. The depth of the channel reaches 108 feet (33 m).
Au au channel is a whale-watching center in the Hawaiian Islands. Humpback whales migrate approximately 3,500 miles (5600 km) from Alaskan watersmarker each autumn and spend the northern hemisphere winter months in the protected waters of the channel.


'Au'au translates to "to take a bath" referring to its calm bath-like conditions.

Lahaina Roads

The middle of the 'Au'au channel off Lāhainā is known as the Lahaina Roads. Once filled with whalers when Lahaina was a capital for that industry, Lahaina Roads were later adopted as an alternate anchorage for the main U.S. Pacific Fleet based at Pearl Harbor. In the planning for the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese had hoped that the Pacific Fleet still utilized Lahaina as an anchorage as ships sunk in the deep water there would have been unrecoverable. However, Lahaina was not utilized, and the bulk of the fleet remained moored in Pearl Harbor. The Roads are still a common moorage for oceangoing cruise ships and naval vessels of many flags, including the U.S., whose crews enjoy liberty on the mainland.

Pailolo Channel

The Pailolo Channel separates the islands of Molokai and Maui. Although the channel is only about 8.4 miles at its shortest point, it is one of the windiest and roughest in the Hawaiian Islands.

Pailolo translates to "crazy fisherman" referring to the typical sea surface conditions and who would attempt to navigate therein.

Kalohi Channel

The Kalohi Channel is the stretch of water separating Lāna imarker and Moloka imarker. Depth of water in this channel is about 260 feet (79 m). This is one of the less treacherous channels between islands in the archipelago, although strong winds and choppy sea conditions are frequent. Kalolohia beach on the Lāna i coast is also known as "Shipwreck Beach" because of a wreck on the reef there.

Kaiwi Channel

The Kaiwi Channel (also known as the Moloka i Channel) separates the islands of O ahumarker and Moloka i. Maximum depth is 2300 feet (701 m). There are annual paddleboarding and outrigger canoe paddling contests which traverse this channel.

Kaulakahi Channel

The Kaulakahi Channel separates the islands of Niihaumarker and Kauaimarker.

Ka'ie'iewaho Channel

The Kaiolelewaho Channel separates the islands of Kauaimarker and Oahumarker.

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