Puako Petroglyph Archaeological Preserve

Puako Petroglyphs, Big Island

Located on the Big Island's Kohala Coast near Holoholokai Beach Park, the Puako Petroglyph Archaeological Preserve (view panorama) features more than 3,000 ancient Hawaiian rock carvings. The carvings show figures of humans, paddlers, marchers, as well as turtles, dogs, chickens and deity symbols. They are believed to have been carved between 1000 and 1800 A.D. The ancient Hawaiians called their stone art ki'i pohaku, which literally means "images in stone."

Many of the carvings are puka, which are cup marks and dots. These played a role in postbirth rituals. The piko, or umbilical cord stump, of the newborn was placed in a hole in the rock and a stone was put on top of it. It was believed that this would be beneficial for the child since this created helpful mana (spiritual energy).

Puako Petroglyphs Overview

  • One of the largest petroglyph fields in Hawaii (223 acres)
  • 1.5-mile (2.4 km) roundtrip Malama Trail leads to petroglyph field
  • Trail to the petroglyph field is unpaved and leads through a kiawe forest (watch out for the kiawe thorns on the ground)

Location:
Holoholokai Beach Park Rd, Waimea, HI 96738
Directions: From the right (north) side of the Holoholokai Beach Park parking lot, the Malama Trail leads to the petroglyph field. Stay on the path to avoid damaging the petroglyphs. It's about a 15-minute walk, one way. The trail leads inland through a kiawe forest. Along the way, there are some replica petroglyphs. It is allowed to touch these carvings and make rubbings of them. However, as you reach the real petroglyphs, it is not allowed to touch them or walk on them to avoid damage.


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Reviews and Comments:
 
This is a very interesting spot. It is an archeological site and if you aren't in to that, well don't go. But if you are, this is a good one. The trail to the petroglyphs is 0.74 miles through low tree growth reminiscent of Texas or New Mexico. The path is rough in places so don't attempt it in flip flops. There isn't a lot of interpretation here because I don't think much is really known about the site. You will come away with more questions than answers. The woods are a good place to look for birds and the beach at the parking lot looked pretty good. There are lots of feral cats and mongoose around the lot too.
Steve Lohr, Tue Mar 15, 2016
 
You must enjoy finding archaeological treasures in a natural setting. The walking path is rough and stone-strewn. It would be great to have on-site interpretive literature; but a strong sense of energy prevails.
Maribeth C. Yarnell, Thu Aug 01, 2013