Established in 1992 to protect the wetland habitat of two endangered wetland birds, Keālia Pond National Wildlife Refuge encompasses approximately 700 acres and is one of the few natural wetlands remaining in the Hawaiian Islands. It is the largest lowland wetland remaining on Maui. Keālia Pond is located along the south-central coast, between the towns of Kīhei and Mā‘alaea, it is a natural basin for a 56-square mile watershed from the West Maui Mountains.
The Keālia Coastal Boardwalk is a beautiful tranquil walkway and bird sanctuary, beside Mā‘alaea Bay on the south edge of Maui's central valley. A walk on the boardwalk takes you through ancient wetlands where you can watch two of Hawaii's native and endangered waterbirds - the Hawaiian coot and Hawaiian stilt. Across the highway you can see Keālia Pond where waterfowl from Asia and North America come for rest and warmer climate, including northern shoveler and northern pintail. The Pacific golden plover migrates from Alaska, and other birds that come for the winter are the wandering tattler and ruddy turnstone.
The seasonal conditions that occur at Keālia Pond National Wildlife Refuge make it a notable place for people to observe Hawai‘i's endangered wetland birds, along with a diversity of feathered visitors from as far away as Alaska and Canada, and occasionally from Asia.
The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System is to administer a national network of lands and waters for the conservation, management and, where appropriate, restoration of the fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats within the United States for the benefit of present and future generations.
1992: Keālia Pond National Wildlife Refuge (NWR or Refuge) was established to preserve, restore, and manage essential habitat for two endangered Hawaiian waterbirds: the ae‘o (Hawaiian stilt) and ‘alae ke‘oke‘o (Hawaiian coot).
2009: The half-mile elevated Keālia Coastal Boardwalk opened to the public and includes a 14-stall parking lot. It is open daily from 6 a.m. - 7 p.m. and is patrolled by private security.
2012- Keālia Pond National Wildlife Headquarters facility and Visitor Center opened to the public. The visitor center has interactive learning opportunities and self-guided interpretive displays for all ages. The Headquarters’ facility has staff offices and a multi-purpose room for partnership meetings and public presentations.