A popular photographic subject on postcards, picturesque St. Peter’s by the Sea Church was built in 1880 across from La‘aloa Beach Park and named after Peter Kahulamu. Noah Kanewa allowed the church to use that initial property. The tiny church was relocated in 1912 to its current location at Kahalu‘u’s Ku‘emanu Heiau, a Hawaiian surfing temple in Keauhou.
Josephine Kaomea Aiu donated “use” of the Kahalu‘u church site. Catholic families in Kahalu‘u “worked together” to erect the church, moving it more than a mile to its present location on donkeys.
Located on the makai side of Ali’i Drive, the church was pushed off its foundation twice by hurricanes. Father Benno Evers added the church’s belfry and porch in 1938. In 2007, St. Peter’s got new flooring, paint and the walls were reinforced. The rock walls outside the church were neatly restacked and fortified with concrete. The street fronting the church is the annual location of Aid Station Run #5 for the Ford Ironman World Championship—a popular spot with spectators.
Find more info on St. Michael’s mission churches in the 2009 book, “North Kona’s Catholic Heritage….remembered.” It’s for sale in the parish office and bookstore on the grounds of St. Michael’s Church in Kailua-Kona, 326-7771.