He was born about 1789, the son of Keʻeaumoku and his wife Nāmāhana. He was the youngest of four famous siblings. His sisters were Queen Kaʻahumanu (Kamehameha's favorite wife,) Kalākua Kaheiheimālie and Namahana-o-Piʻia (also queens of Kamehameha) and brother George Cox Kahekili Keʻeaumoku.
Kaluaikonahale was born on Maui, but as an infant he was taken to Keauhou to grow up. With the introduction of Christianity and adoption of western names, he changed his name and chose the name John Adams after John Quincy Adams (the US President at the time.) From then, he was called John Adams Kuakini.