Puako Petroglyph Archeological Park

March 15, 2022

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Photographer: Rick Stankiewicz

Summary Author: Rick Stankiewicz

Every major island in the Hawaiian Chain contains petroglyph (stone carvings) sites, but not all of the sites are easily accessible. For the sites that are accessible and persons interested enough to take the time, the reward is a glimpse into the distant past of the ancient island inhabitants. As with glyphs around the world, little is known about the actual meaning of most of the symbols and designs represented. However, within these questions lay some of the fun, challenge, and mystery of gazing upon these images from the past and trying to figure out what they represent or what are they trying to “say”? In the Hawaiian language, petroglyphs are called ki'i pohaku – ki'‘i meaning "image" or "picture" and pohaku meaning "stone".

While on a tour of the Big Island, I visited the Puako Petroglyph Archeological Park and was surprised with the accessibility of the glyphs. Located on the northwest side of the island- adjacent to Holoholokai Beach Park- this state and national park is where you will find the largest collection of petroglyphs in Hawaii. There are reportedly about three thousand images carved on stone here. The images presented here are only a tiny sample of what you can see at the park. There is a raised viewing area that overlooks an exposed rock surface where many of the glyphs are located. However, pay close attention on your way in and out of the trail leading to this site, as images can be found on individual rocks along the way. Everyone is asked to protect the petroglyphs by not walking on them or doing anything to damage them, like “rubbings” or transfers.

Photo details: Nikon Coolpix E995, 11.5mm, 100 ISO, f/3, 1/30 sec.

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