Visit to Kaloko Honokohau National Historic Park

Visit to Kaloko Honokohau National Historic Park

Located just south of the Kona International Airport, the Kaloko Honokohau National Historic Park used to be an early Hawaiian settlement that covered over 1160 acres in the coastal area of Kona. The area is filled with ancient heaui (Hawaiian temples), fish ponds,  kiʻi pōhaku (rock carvings) and some recreated Hawaiian structures that showed how many of the ancient people lived, fished and developed a community based in this ancient district.

Visitors to this national park can go to the visitor’s center and then take trails to the coastal area and visit the historic sites or even walk parts of the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail  to discover more historic sites and landmarks in this area.

Visit to Kaloko Honokohau National Historic Park

Visiting the national park and visitor’s center

Located close to Honokohau harbor, the visitor’s center is just off the main Highway and less than 3 miles from downtown Kona. Follow directions from the highway to the parking lot and you will find maps and can talk to the rangers on what you can visit within the timeframes you have available to explore the site.

If you are coming from Kona airport, it is about 3 miles south and going towards downtown.

The Kaloko Honokohau National Historic Park is significant because it preserves historic and intact sites that dates back to prehistoric times of the ancient native Hawaiians.

It is the mission of the center and park to preserve, educate and perpetuate the Hawaiian cultural heritage by offering visitors and local people to visit and connect with the historic sites and Mana (energy forces) of the area.

Visitor center hours

Open from 8:00am to 5:00pm daily. For more information, visit the National Park Service Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park website or call the visitors center at 808-326-9057.

History of Kaloko Honokohau

History of Kaloko Honokohau

This significant part of Kona carries a lot of cultural treasures and historic significance that gives it a national park historic designation. The area is part of the Hualalai volcano which was home to hundreds of ancient Hawaiian people. Living in a land division called an ahupua’a that extends from the mountaintop all the way to the shoreline and into the ocean. Hawaiians thought of the land not just as a place to live but as an entity that possessed mana or spiritual power from the environment. Today at Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park tries to educated and perpetuate the spirit of mālama ka ‘āina or “care for the land.” 

Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park

These native Hawaiians sometimes speak of a mo’o, a water-dwelling guardian spirit, who rests on a rock as it watches over Kaloko fishpond. The mo’o is a spiritual that is well respected and allowed for bountiful fishing. But if there was disrespect to the land or sacred waters, the mo’o would take all the fish away and punish those that did the wrong doing.

Main landmarks and attractions to visit at Kaloko Honokohau

Main landmarks and attractions to visit at Kaloko Honokohau

This once thriving Hawaiian settlement contains over 200 historic archealogical sites and was primarily a place to harvest fish, maintain the fish pond construction along with growing taro, breadfruit, coconuts, gourds and raising animals like pigs and chickens. This area incorporated an ancient Ahipua’a spanning from the ocean up to the mountains where different areas concentrated on food production, fish processing to areas in between that concentrated on what can be grown or utilized from a certain geographic location and then traded with other ohana (family)

The main historic sites to be found at the historic site includes:

Ancient fish ponds

Ancient fish ponds – The fishponds are comprised of the Kaloko Fishpond, Aimakapa Fishpond, and the ‘Ai’opio Fishtrap. These show how ancient Hawiians harvested from the sea with these two inland bays that were converted into fish ponds with channels dug out to the ocean to refresh the inland bays and have been functioning for over 600 years.

The ponds were created with dry stacked rocks that were built out into the ocean and separating with this sea wall and sluice gates that allowed seawater to enter pond area. You can see the pond and fish trap spanning  stone and coral wall that formed the 1.7 acre ‘Ai’opio Fishtrap.

You can do a self-guided foot trail to view Kaloko Fishpond, Aimakapa Fishpond, and the ‘Ai’opio Fishtrap and admire the well done and ingenious creation of the fish ponds and trap.

Canoe house at Kaloko

Canoe house – there is a recreated canoe house at the fish pond area that shows how the area was used as a launching area for canoes along with various other relics found in the area.

a nice beach area

There is a nice beach area to also relax after exploring the traps or check out the heaui nearby

Historic Heiau

Historic Heiau – the main heiau in the complex is located close to the fishpond and the fish trap. The heiau remains are a large stone platform and was used primarily as a place of worship to the local gods and religious services dedicated to war, fishing, agriculture, medicine and ocean navigation. Ancient Hawaiians would assemble and give offerings of plants, goods and chant, dance and song to their deities.

You can take various trails to hike along the Mamalahoa Trail, the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail, or the Ala Hele Ike Trail taking in the many native plants, stone walls, and house platforms, just as the Hawaiians did many years ago.

Included in the area, you will find ki) Stone mounds serving as shrines and altars, Kokane game boards, A holua (toboggan run slide) lava tube shelters and trails that includes the Kings trail

Other Attractions to visit in the area

Other Attractions to visit in the area

Visit to Makalawena Beach

Kua Bay

Top things to do in Kona town

Things to do in Waikoloa Village

Best beaches in Kona area

Conclusion to Kaloko Honokohau National Historic Park

Conclusion to Kaloko Honokohau National Historic Park

For outdoor enthusiasts, the Kaloko Honokohau National Historic Park is a definite must do on the west side of the Big Island and filled with ancient Hawaii treasures.

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Noel Morata is the creator of This Hawaii Life along with a small team of contributors. Living on the Big Island and traveling regularly to the neighbor islands, Noel and team actively search and share the latest information and updates to Hawaii travel, food, adventure and various lifestyle activities on the islands for your planning and vacation. Aloha and enjoy This Hawaii Life.