If you are at all interested in soaking up a bit of Hawaiian history in addition to our famous sunshine, please do yourself a favor and make time for the Puako Petroglyphs on Hawaii’s Big Island.
In case you are unfamiliar, petroglyphs are prehistoric carvings/drawings. No one knows for sure why early Hawaiians carved the Puako Petroglyphs into this fascinating red-orange lava rock, but many experts believe it was to document their lives and important family events. To this day you can clearly see the images of families, dancers, paddlers, and other people, as well as animals like turtles, dogs, fish, and chickens. You can also spot petroglyphs of deities, sails, various tools, and more. There are over 3,000 in all and you can see over 1,200 of them from the hiking trail!
Visiting the Puako Petroglyphs is a really easy, really pleasant 3-mile round-trip hike around the 233-acre preserve. You can access it by driving to the Mauna Lani Resort and then following the signs to the Puako Petroglyphs field. Easy as pie! There is nice, shady parking, too – just be sure not to leave any valuables in the car.
The Puako Petroglyphs are a fragile and sacred part of Hawaii’s history, so when you visit the area, please be considerate. Do not walk on our touch any of the petroglyphs as these actions can cause these special artifacts to degrade more quickly than they already are. You may be surprised to learn that something as seemingly resilient as lava rock can be damaged by something as seemingly harmless as the natural oils on your skin! Also, from a practicality standpoint, be sure to wear sensible shoes and sunscreen, and make sure to bring water. Yes, the hike is easy, but that doesn’t make you immune to stubbing your toe, getting a sunburn, or becoming dehydrated. Please enjoy safely!