Hello Friends and Family,

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Maui: Mala Wharf

The Mala Wharf is located on the north side of Lahaina, next to the boat ramp used to launch the Mo‘okiha O Pi‘ilani. It is quite a lovely spot — as you can clearly see.

In addition to the beach, the boat ramp itself provides a swimming spot for the kids which is somewhat sheltered from the ocean waves.

The wharf was built in 1922 to provide a place for steamships to embark and disembark passengers and goods. The locals knew that this was a unfavorable spot for such a structure due to the heavy surf and strong currents. As a result, the wharf was primarily used with smaller craft. I happened to find a nice photo from its early days — click here.

In 1992, a very powerful Hurricane Iniki damaged the wharf severely, leaving it in an unusable and dangerous state.

Even the barrier put up to keep people off the wharf has not done well in the Pacific salt air — the kids have no problem getting around it — and kids being kids, that is exactly what they do.

According to a dive website, the parts of the original wharf that have fallen into the ocean have provided a wonderful habitat for marine life — thus an inviting spot for divers.

I assure you that I did not venture past the barrier — using the longer focal lengths of my zoom lens, I was able to take some nice shots through the bars.

Spalling of the concrete leads to exposure of the rebar which rusts in the salt air and ocean spray. The structure deteriorates rapidly after that.

One can only imagine what it looked like during the height of Hurricane Iniki. I would love to see a video — not brave enough to wish to have seen it in person.

Remember that the cast and crew from Spielberg's film Jurassic Park were still on Kaua‘i when the hurricane hit. Too bad they did not have a camera positioned here.

In some places, there is not much left.

The kids gather near the end of the wharf in order to dive in — looks like fun (for someone in that age group).

The exposed rebar on the pilings provide convenient handholds and steps to climb back up after the dive.

I love this image — it shows the remains of the track used to transport goods in carts to and from the moored boats. Of course, now it looks like those carts would just run off the end and into the ocean. The end of the wharf is severely damaged — if you did not know it before, you know it now — hurricanes can be extremely nasty.

Note that there is an effort on Maui to decide what to do with the wharf — could be total demolition or could be refurbishment. Stay tuned.

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com