Uncovering Ancient Hawaii at Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park

by Karen Rose

Originally published https://www.hawaii.com/big-island/attractions/kaloko-honokohau-national-historical-park

 

Photo:  Kris Arnold.

Standing within the sacred boundaries of Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, the power of the landscape stretching out around you is palpable. Established in 1978, this park preserves part of the ancient world along the coastal sections of two ahupua‘a, traditional land divisions that run from mountain top to shoreline.

Early Hawaiians Thrived Here

Photo:  Rosa Say.

Located just south of Kona International Airport, Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park offers opportunities to explore the rugged coastline and discover how early Hawaiians survived and made their living in this seemingly inhospitable environment. Look toward the mountain Hualalai, the third largest volcano on the Big Island, and you’ll see miles of lava barren landscape spilling down toward the ocean.

Photo:  Rosa Say.

This area of Kona is hot and arid, requiring early Hawaiians to possess keen fishing skills, engineering capabilities to build fishponds, and the ability to locate fresh water. For years, early Hawaiian settlements self-sufficiently thrived here, finding all the necessities needed to raise crops, harvest fish, and raise families.

What You Can Expect to Experience at Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park

Photo:  Anita Gould.

Be sure to bring water and wear sturdy tennis shoes if you choose to hike the trails and explore the petroglyphs and sacred temples. You’ll see the impressive engineering feats of two Hawaiian fishponds. Near the fishpond is the hōlua, or stone slide. The hōlua was used as a form of sport for the ali‘i, or royalty. The length of this hōlua is about 150 feet, and it was wide enough for two sledders at a time.

Photo:  Thomas Tunsch.

You may also catch a glimpse at some local wildlife, including the honu, Hawaiian green sea turtle, monk seals, and native birds.

Photo:  Blake Handley.

Koloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park is an area that is respected and revered for its spiritual and historical significance. Hawaiians believed the land possessed mana, or spiritual power. Today that spirit ofmālama ka ʻāina, or caring for the land, still exists at Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park.

The Details

Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park is located between Kona International Airport and Kailua-Kona off of Hwy 19. There are few visitor facilities, but plenty of opportunities to explore on your own. Hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Bring a picnic and enjoy!