Hiking Trails Along the Kohala Coast
Kalahuipua Trail (Mauna Lani Bay Hotel): Hundreds of years ago Native Hawaiians lived and fished along the South Kohala coast, including a village called Kalahuipua. This sacred region is preserved here along the Kalahuipua Trail which features various archeological treasures such as petroglyphs, burial sites, shelter caves, old stepping stone trails, and fishponds. The ponds are active with awa, or Hawaiian milkfish, and are surrounded by native milo trees and coconut palms. Finches, cardinals, francolin and other birds are drawn to the tropical flora. The fishponds lead finally into a nice beach where you can relax and swim. Take the Mauna Lani exit from Highway 19, drive straight past the roundabout, then make the first left on Pauoa Road.
Malama Trail (at Holoholokai Beach Park, Mauna Lani) is a 1.4-mile trail that leads to one of Hawaii’s largest ancient petroglyph sites. It starts with a loosely defined path through a secluded Keawe forest, past a lava cave, and then up a hill to an open lava rock field. There you will see an abundance of mysterious symbols carved into volcanic dome rocks. The largely stick-figure images are believed to be from 200 to 1000 years old. You can sense a quiet spirit connected to the site. The Puako Petroglyph Archeological Park is easy to get to on the north end of the Mauna Lani Resort near the Fairmont Orchid Hotel. Take the right turn on North Kaniku from Mauna Lani Drive. Veer right just before the Orchid parking lot and take the road to Holoholokai Beach, which has facilities. The trail is open daily from 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Ala Kahakai Trail traverses the Hawaii coastline in various segments and goes through important cultural sites. You can access it in several different areas, such as the wooded entrance to the right of the Puako boat ramp, or at the south end of Spencer Beach. An unpaved path runs for miles through shallow forests, grassy lava fields and, at times, narrow passageways along cliffs. A mild portion of the trail also begins on the south end of Puako Beach Drive. This fairly short walk runs along the rocky shoreline to Holoholokai Beach Park next to the Fairmont Orchid. There are small coves along the way where you may see green sea turtles when the surf is calm. The Ala Kahakai Trail (“trail by the sea”) was established as a National Historic Trail by Congress in 2000 for the preservation of Hawaiian resources. Look for the Puako sign on the makai side of Highway 19, past Mauna Lani. From Puako Beach Drive turn right at the shoreline access road that has the boat loading dock. Or drive to the end of Puako Beach Drive and walk southward to Holoholokai Beach Park… and continue along the Mauna Lani section of the trail.
Kings’ Trail consists of a narrow, one-mile section of the Honokohau National Historical Park, also known as Mamalahoa Trail, which stretches across most of the island. Kings’ Trail marks the region of a Hawaiian village that thrived here until the early 19th century. Along the trail are thousands of inscriptions carved into rocks by ancient Hawaiian tribes. Images of canoes, honus and suns have been spotted along with the human figures. Informational plaques along the way help explain how Hawaiians possibly used these pictures to communicate centuries ago. Guided tours of the Waikoloa Petroglyph Preserve are accessible Thursday through Sunday at 10:30 a.m. starting at the central stage in the Kings’ Shops on Waikoloa Beach Drive.
Anaeho’omalu Beach Trail is an unpaved, rocky coastline path that travels for miles to the south of Anaeho’omalu Bay (A-Bay) as part of the Big Island’s Ala Kahakai Trail. It runs into several quiet lagoons worth exploring. Green sea turtles occasionally come out to bask along this stretch. The trail also connects A-Bay to the Hilton Waikoloa Village just to the north, passing by tide pools and protected Anchialine ponds. Weather on this part of the coast is usually warm and stable. Parking is available at various shoreline access points along Waikoloa Beach Drive, including the end of Naupaka Kai Place. The trail is open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Kaloko-Honokohau National Historic Park The hike through Kaloko-Honokohau National Historic Park is a four-mile loop but you can walk one of the smaller trails that branch off from two park entrances: one just beyond mile marker 97 off Highway 19, and one at the back of Honokohau Small Boat Harbor at the end of Kealakehe Parkway. This broad coastal region at the base of Mount Hualalai offers two ancient fish ponds, a beach, and a small-boat harbor. The park encompasses a large section of the state Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail throughout which bird life is abundant and sea turtles regularly lounge upon the sand.
Situated about a mile from the park entrance, the ‘Aimakapa Fishpond is a massive protected wetland that features a variety of native shorebirds including Hawaiian stilts, ducks and coots. Two rugged foot paths traverse a wide lava bed leading to a National Park Service visitor station which features various maps and small gifts. On the northern end of the park is the restored 11-acre Kaloko Fishpond with its enormous stone wall. Along with its abundant wildlife, Kaloko-Honokau National Historic Park features a fish trap, an anchialine pond, a canoe hale, temple ruins, petroglyph rocks, and old lava rock planters.