The Hawiian meaning for Wai-‘anapanapa is “glistening waters.” The serenity and solitude of the caves, and its “glistening clear waters” appear to give the illusion of safety. The serenity was once broken in ancient times by King Ka’akea when he brutally murdered his wife. His wife, Popu-‘alaea, was a beautiful woman who had grown to hate the King’s constrictive lifestyle. One day she fled, hoping to find refuge in the caves of Wai-‘anapanapa. The King was furious. He searched relentlessly through the hills and valleys surrounding the Hana area.
One day while searching along the coastline, he decided to refresh himself in the cool water of the caves. As he peered into the clear glistening waters, he noticed a reflection of his wife. She had been hiding in a secret cavern in the back of the cave. Overcome by anger, he brutally murdered her.
Every year during spring, millions of red shrimp appear in the cave. The glistening waters of Wai-‘anapanapa are said to turn red as testimony to the tragic event.