Hawaii’s largest collection of ancient Hawaiian petroglyphs are found on the coastal lava rocks of of Puako and the Mauna Lani Resort area along the Big Island’s Kohala Coast. Created centuries ago, these etchings and carvings into the rocks reveal clues as to the lives and culture of Hawaiians long ago.
In all there are more than 3,000 petroglyphs in the Puako rocks and each is unique. The designs include a wide variety of symbols and shapes including canoe paddlers, family groups, turtles, dogs, sails and many more.
The section where access is allowed is located just north of Mauna Lani Resort and includes about 1,200 petroglyphs. More petroglyphs are found scattered throughout the Mauna Lani Resort area. A brochure and map provided by the hotel provides more information and guided tours are also offered with a Hawaiian historian.
The 1.5-mile-long Malama Trail begins to the north of Mauna Lani Resort and leads into the 223-acre Puako Petroglyph Archaeological District which has the Pacific’s largest concentration of petroglyphs. To reach this area follow the Queen Kaahumanu Hwy. (Hwy. 19) north from Kailua-Kona to the resort and head toward the coast on North Kaniku Drive and park in the lot at the end. At the trailhead is a kiosk and an interpretive sign.
There is also a marked petroglyph trail near the mauka (mountain side) entrance to the King’s Shops at Waikoloa Beach Resort. An in-house historian provides guided tours of the petroglyph area.