Hawaii February 07, 2018
This Hidden Trail In Hawaii Leads To A Magnificent Archaeological Treasure
The Hawaiian Islands are steeped in history, from the first Europeans visiting the islands in 1778 and the establishment of the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1795 to Hawaii’s admittance to the United States of America in 1959. But Hawaii’s history goes back much further than that, as evidenced by this petroglyph field found off a hiking trail on the northern coast of Hawaii Island. These are the Puako Petroglyphs, a magnificent archaeological treasure you’ll only find in Hawaii.
Petroglyphs offer a unique glimpse into the history of Hawaii, and this 223-acre archaeological preserve near Waikoloa is no different.
It is in this petroglyph field that you will find approximately 3,000 designs, though only 1,200 are visible within the section of the preserve to which access is allowed. These petroglyphs depict paddlers, sails, marchers, dancers, and families, as well as chicken, turtles, dogs, and deity symbols. Many of the depictions date back to the 16th century, more than 100 years before Western contact.
The petroglyphs at Puako are interpreted to have documented the life and culture of the native Hawaiians who lived here. The ki`i pohaku (or images carved in stone) recorded births and other significant events in the lives of the people who lived on the island of Hawaii long ago, including travel across the island, communicate events both present and past, and even marked boundaries and trails.
The 1.5-mile Malama Trail starts north of the Mauna Lani Resort, and is accessible by taking Highway 19 to the resort turnoff, driving towards the coast on North Kaniku Drive, which ends at a parking lot. Here you will find the trailhead for this historic hike.
An informational sign found here makes you think: "Ancient Hawaiians travelled across harsh lava flows to reach this spot. Back then there were few trees to shade them, drinking water was scarce and they had no sturdy shoes to protect their feet. What brought them here, this this particular spot? What made them work so hard with primitive tools, to the carve symbols you see? And why are most of the petroglyphs oriented toward the mountain? Most of the petroglyphs here are human representations. A few of them are animal forms. What do they mean? No one knows for sure. But, the care and energy used in their creation indicates this was a very special place. What secrets do you think the petroglyphs hold?"
When you visit, respect the aina and these works of art by staying on the designated trail. Do not touch the rock images or attempt to make rubbings of them as these human actions destroy works of art that have endured for centuries. You can, however, take photographs.
The best time to visit for photos are early morning and late afternoon, which coincidentally is the best time to take this hike in general: because the trail is unshaded, it is best to go when temperatures are cooler. Be sure to bring plenty of water and wear protective shoes: the trail is unpaved and lined with Kiawe trees, whose thorns can be painful when stepped on.
The Puako Petroglyph Archaeological District is located at North Kaniku Drive in Waimea, and is open daily from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Have you visited this incredible site before? What about these other
historic Hawaii hikes?