Olowalu is the terminus of what, in native Hawaiian, is known as Ahupua’a. Originating at one small point in the mountains, Ahupua’a is a river valley that fans out between LThau Mountain on the north and LThau 'Ula Mountain to the south. It meanders toward the ocean in an alluvial plain, and its shape like a slice of pie. Its "crust" is a breathtaking stretch of sandy, pebbly beach known as Ka’ili’ili Beach, which literally translates to "small pebble."
The ancient Hawaiians who once inhabited this Ahupua’a reaped the fruitful benefits of this rich area, cultivating taro, sweet potato, breadfruit, and coconut and using these along with prolific marine life to barter with those living higher up in the mountains. Traces of these ancient cultures are not hard to find in this area, there’s a nearby trail behind the general store that leads some 400 yards up a dirt road to an impressive array of drawings.
The reef itself is said to be one of the oldest in the islands with many coral within the garden as old as 100 years. Because of the undulating, shallow lava rock punctuated with pockets of sand, the place is a haven for sea turtles and is even referred to as Turtle Reef. Snorkeling is said to be some of the best on the island thanks to the high cliffs of the Pali coastline that protect from trade winds and the prolific numbers of fish. The caveat: The water is super shallow for the first 200 yards or so offshore, making this a much more enjoyable experience with a tour boat that can approach from the other side. If you do decide to venture from shore, take the utmost care to avoid touching the reef.