One of my fondest memories of going over the Nu'uanu Pali was stopping at the banana stand at the bottom. It was thick with banana groves and the best tasting bananas I've ever had. Sweet small apple bananas. We'd buy several bunches and they'd never make it home.
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On the other hand, my father has memories of riding in a bus over the Pali in the 1940s. He said it was a hair raising experience.
The Nuʻuanu Pali has been a vital pass from ancient times to the present because it is a low, traversable section of the Koʻolau mountain range that connects the leeward side of the mountains, Honolulu to the windward side, Kailua and Kāneʻohe. The route drew settlers who formed villages in the area and populated Nuʻuanu Valley for a thousand years.
The Nuʻuanu Pali was the site of the Battle of Nuʻuanu, one of the bloodiest battles in Hawaiian history, in which Kamehameha I conquered the island of Oʻahu, bringing it under his rule. In 1795 Kamehameha I sailed from his home island of Hawaiʻi with an army of 10,000 warriors, including a handful of non-Hawaiian foreigners. After conquering the islands of Maui and Molokaʻi, he moved on to Oʻahu. The pivotal battle for the island occurred in Nuʻuanu Valley, where the defenders of Oʻahu, led by Kalanikūpule, were driven back up into the valley where they were trapped above the cliff. More than 400 of Kalanikūpule's soldiers were driven off the edge of the cliff to their deaths 1,000 feet below.
In 1845 the first road was built over the Nuʻuanu Pali to connect Windward Oʻahu with Honolulu. In 1898 this road was developed into a highway which during construction 800 skulls were found believed to be the remains of the warriors that fell to their deaths from the cliff above. This road was later replaced by the Pali Highway and the Nuʻuanu Pali Tunnels in 1959 which is the route used today.
The now extinct bird, the Oʻahu nukupuʻu, was last collected in this valley. (SOURCE: Wikipedia)