Most people have no idea that this fascinating park on the Big Island even exists. Located on the grounds of the Mauna Lani megaresort, Kalāhuipua’a is a charming area with petroglyphs, lava tube dwellings, and extensive fishponds from ancient times. If you are staying in one of the Kohala Coast resorts, this is a place to visit.
Created by the Mauna Lani Resort & Hotels to preserve and enhance Hawaii’s cultural history found on its grounds, the Kalahuipua’a Historical Park is home to 27 acres of history, including several walking trails open to the public from dawn to dusk. Ancient Hawaiians lived in this area for nearly 800 years before the discovery of Hawaii by the Western world.
Along the park’s one-mile trail, you will come across countless remnants of the past, including petroglyphs, the remains of an ancient fishing village, a historic lava tube shelter, and several ancient Hawaiian fish ponds – the most beautiful part of the park.
There are seven fishponds: Kalahuipua’a, Waipuhi, Waipuhi Iki, Kahinawao, Hope’ala, Manoku and Milokukahi, with Lahuipua’a and Ka’aiopio as divisions of Kalahuipua’a. The ponds are fed by natural freshwater springs and seawater, creating a brackish environment that Hawaiians used to harvest fish. These ponds are still managed
in the traditional fashion; fish enter through gates and swim down channels to the ponds, where the second set of gates are closed, so the fish remains. Great idea for a sustainable food source!
In old Hawaii, most fishponds were managed by the ali’i (chiefs), and most of the fish were consumed by them. These particular ponds once belonged to Kamehameha the Great. Legend says that servants would transport still-wiggling fish to the house of the ali’i in wet seaweed to ensure the utmost freshness.
You can stroll around and watch for leaping fish and birds on the hunt. A path even leads along the long retaining wall that forms the ocean-facing aspect of Lahuipua’s Fishpond. Or you can sit on one of the park’s benches and enjoy the stillness and serenity around you. The best time to visit is in the morning when it is not that hot, and the colors of the water in the ponds and the ocean behind them are magnificent. Make sure to bring your camera with you to capture all that beauty.
At the end of the mile’s walk, you will see all paths converge and end near Makaiwa Beach, a small white-sand beach that guests and residents of the resort predominantly use. It is a very protected area that is a good choice for families, and the walk to the beach through the Kalahuipua’a Historical Park and Kalahuipua’a Fishponds adds an interesting cultural aspect to the trip.
Often, when we have guests visiting the island, we take them to this unique place, and they are always in awe of the beauty and peace they experience.
How to get there
You don’t have to hike – it is just a short walk through the Mauna Lani resort near a golf course. To get there, on Hwy. 19 north of Kailua-Kona and south of Kawaihae, look for the entrance to the Mauna Lani resort between mile markers 73 and 74 (Mauna Lani Drive). Pass a traffic circle and stay on Mauna Lani Drive. Take the next left onto Pauoa Road and quickly find trailhead parking on the right. The park is open from 6:30 am till 6:30 pm.
Save on your Hawaii vacation rental
Remember, you can always save 10% on your vacation rental when you book direct with us and mention “Aloha escape” in your reservation.
We hope to see you soon – a hui hou!
Images courtesy of North Hawaii Hospice, Hawaii Island United Way.