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Despite the dryness and hostility of the environment, the early inhabitants of the Kaloko-Honokahau coastal settlements devised successful adaptive methods of growing supplementary food items such as sweet potatoes and gourds upon the lava beds.The husks of dry coconuts, immersed in water until well soaked, and then placed around the plant roots provided moisture and protected against direct exposure to the harsh sun.It is thought that the construction of fishponds at Kaloko and Honokahau began during this time, with Kaloko Fishpond dating from at least the 1400s to 1500s During the 1600s to 1700s, as the Kona Coast population grew with the establishment of the royal residence of 'Umi-a-Liloa at Kona and the consequent increased demand for food production, Kaloko also increased to probably almost 200 residents.It continually supported a higher population than other Kekaha areas because of its fishpond and extensive inland field system.

Archeologist Robert Renger theorized that the presence of these agricultural structures enabled a different type of adaptation to the environment in this area one in which agricultural production along the coast supplemented both the marine resources and the products of the upland.

The jagged terrain makes foot travel almost impossible, a problem that the early Hawaiians addressed by means of painstakingly built trails.

In 1823, walking northwest from Kailua toward Kaiwi Point, the missionaries Asa Thurston and Artemas Bishop noted neat houses shaded by coconut and kou trees erected on top of the lava flows along the shore.

The Kekaha lands north of Kaloko and extending to Kohala are thought to have undergone initial permanent settlement beginning in the 1400s, with subsequent occupation of the coast north and south over the next few centuries.

Sometime during the period of 1580 to 1600, Laeanuikaumanamana, the kahuna-nui of the ruling chief, Liloa, acquired the Kekaha region.