Founded in 1832, the Keawala’i Congregational Church is one of the oldest churches on Maui. The lava stone structure that still stands was built in 1855 using a mortar made of coral. It replaced the original house of worship made of pili grass. Over the years the three foot thick walls have been repaired and the wooden roof and bell tower replaced, but the bones of the 1855 church remain.
Sometimes referred to locally as “the old stone church,” the Keawala’i Congregational Church is located on a small sandy cove between Makena Landing and Maluaka Beach about six miles south of Maui Vista. From Highway 31, follow the signs pointing to “Makena Landing” and “Keawala’i Congregational Church.” Turn left as you get to the bottom of the hill. The church is just up the road on your right. You can’t miss it. Park across the street in the Maluaka Beach parking lot and look around.
If the doors are open you can look inside at the simple handsome interior. Hymnals are provided in both English and Hawaiian and the church owns an early 19th century bible written in Hawaiian. Two services are held each Sunday – one in Hawaiian.
The son of a friend of ours was married in the Keawala’i Church in 2010. If you’re interested, you don’t have to be a member to arrange for a wedding, reaffirmation of wedding vows, baptism, or funeral/memorial service. Contact the church for details.
The church’s small graveyard by the sea is worth a visit. It has old and newer headstones.
At the far end of the graveyard is a simple and dignified grave for the remains of a woman from pre-missionary times. Her bones and a comb were found with the remains of a buried canoe when one of the large hotels was constructed in Wailea.
While you’re in the area, enjoy the beaches. Both Makena Landing and Maluaka Beach are great for snorkeling, swimming, and relaxing. Check out our post on Makena Landing to learn about snorkeling with turtles.