Petroglyphs of Hawaii’s Big Island
Petroglyphs, or kii pohaku, are lava rock carvings etched into stone centuries ago by Native Hawaiians. Although the true meanings of the petroglyphs are unknown, it is generally thought these carvings are records of births and other significant events in the lives of the people who lived here long ago. See the carvings of human forms, canoes, turtles and others in the many captivating petroglyphs fields throughout Hawaii’s Big Island.
Within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, at the coastal end of Chain of Craters Road, you’ll discover the sacred Puuloa Petroglyphs, the largest petroglyph field in Hawaii. You can see more than 23,000 images carved into the lava rock here, most before western contact in Hawaii. You can take a guided tour, or take the 1 kilometre hike that ends on a boardwalk from where the petroglyphs are easily visible.
In the Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park located just under five kilometres north of Historic Kailua Village (Kailua-Kona) you can find many mysterious petroglyphs scattered throughout the 469-hectare park. This historic National Park is also the site of Hawaiian fishponds, kahua (house site platforms), a holua (stone slide) and heiau (temples).
Along the Kohala Coast, Puako Petroglyph Archaeological Preserve features hundreds of petroglyphs and is a short walk from the Fairmont Orchid Hawaii and Holoholokai Beach. On the grounds of the Waikoloa Resort, Anaehoomalu Petroglyph Field is another great place to view well-preserved Hawaiian petroglyphs. Many of the petroglyph fields in this area reside on the Ala Kahakai Trail, also known as the King’s Trail, a 281-kilometre trail corridor full of historic sites, including sacred heiau, Hawaiian fishponds and settlement ruins.