Walk Through Ancient Petroglyph FieldsBig Island

Centuries ago, Native Hawaiians carved images of humans, canoes, turtles and other forms into lava rock. And though the true meanings behind these ki‘i pohaku, or PETROGLYPHS, are unknown, it is widely believed that these ANCIENT CARVINGS are records of births and other significant events that occurred in the lives of the people who lived on these islands long before Western contact.

Petroglyphs can be found today at various spots around Hawai‘i Island—you just need to know where to look. Start at the coastal end of Chain of Craters Road in HAWAI‘I VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK, where you’ll discover the largest petroglyph field in Hawai‘i. You can see more than 23,000 ki‘i pohaku during a GUIDED TOUR, or take the 0.7-mile hike on your own; it ends on a boardwalk, from which point the carvings are easily visible.

KALOKO-HONOKOHAU NATIONAL PARK, located about 3 miles north of Historic Kailua Village, is the home of many mysterious petroglyphs. They are scattered throughout the 1,160-acre historic park, which also is the site of Hawaiian fishponds, kahua (house-site platforms), a holua (stone slide) and heiau (temple).

Other great viewing places to see hundreds of well-preserved etchings include PU‘AKO PETROGLYPH ARCHAEOLOGICAL PRESERVE, found just a short walk from The Fairmont Orchid Hawai‘i (ask the Fairmont Orchid Beachboys for a narrated tour of the nearby site) along the Kohala Coast, and the ANAEHO‘OMALU PETROGLYPH FIELD, located on the grounds of the Waikoloa Resort. Many of the fields in this area can be found on the ALA KAHAKAI TRAIL, a 175-mile corridor full of historic sites and settlement ruins.

Photo: Big Island Visitor Bureau (BIVB)