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Kaloko-Honoköhau National Historical Park

Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

Kaloko-Honoköhau National Historical Park sits below the majestic Hualilälai Volcano along the Kona coast on the island of Hawai'i. Because of its archeological and cultural values, the area was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1962 and was established as a National Historical Park in 1978.

Kaloko-Honoköhau National Historical Park was established by Congress on November 10, 1978. The purpose of the park is to preserve, interpret, and perpetuate traditional native Hawaiian activities and culture, and to demonstrate historic land use patterns.

At first glance the landscape appears unsuitable for human habitation. Despite its appearance, the area was once a thriving Hawaiian settlement that harvested from the sea and fishponds, cultivated sweet potatoes, coconut, and raised chickens, dogs, and pigs. In this ahupua'a (sea to mountain land division), the people from the ocean traded with those further inland, thus living in harmony within a self-sustaining community.

The most impressive evidence of Hawaiian settlement in this 1160-acre park can be found at Kaloko and 'Aimakapä fishponds and 'Ai'öpio fish trap. The ocean makes up nearly one half of the park and is an important resource. The waters off Kaloko- Honoköhau National Historical Park are currently managed by the State Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Kaloko fishpond, with its massive seawall, provides an excellent example of the engineering skills of the ancient people. The natural sand enclosure at 'Aimakapä fishpond (modified for aquaculture) demonstrates their capability to live in concert with the environment.

Kaloko fishpond, like most wetlands in an arid setting has been invaded by non-native plants. The pond was favorable habitat for the red mangrove which once encircled the entire pond and eliminated valuable nesting habitat. The National Park Service removed the red mangrove from this pond and other sites within the park. Reclaiming and restoring the pond improves the natural habitat for birds and other animals. Other non-native species are being controlled to encourage native plants and animals to flourish.

The fishponds, tidal areas, and wetlands at Kaloko-Honoköhau National Historical Park are also important as a home for many waterbirds. There are very few natural wetlands in Hawai'i. Today, most significant wetlands on the islands have been built by people (e.g., ponds, reservoirs, sugar mill settling basins, taro fields). The ae'o (Hawaiian black-necked stilt) and the 'alaeke'oke'o (Hawaiian coot) are endemic to Hawai'i -- that is, they are found nowhere else. Both of these waterbirds are officially designated as "endangered species" and are protected under state and federal laws. The habitats at 'Aimakapä and Kaloko fishponds are essential to the survival of these resident waterbirds. Nesting waterbirds are very sensitive to outside disturbances; for this reason we ask that you and your pets keep your distance from the pond's nesting areas. Pets must be on a leash no longer than six feet while in the park.

Anchialine ponds are another unique park resource found scattered throughout -the lava flows. These ponds were a source of brackish to fresh water that attracted people to the area to live or those who traveled through this otherwise arid landscape. The anchialine ponds host an extraordinary biota, including endemic invertebrate species.

Hundreds of archeological features found in the park are reminders of the rich cultural history of Hawai'i, including kahua (house platforms), pa (planters), kü'ula (fishing shrines), paena wa'a (canoe landings), na ala hele (trails), and ki'i pöhaku (petroglyphs-rock carvings). To date, more than 200 archeological sites have been recorded in the Kaloko portion alone and many more have been noted. The significance of the area is the relationship between the people who once lived here, the resources, and a culture that spanned 600 years prior to Western contact.

The Mämalohoa Trail (also known as the King's Highway) was built in the early to mid 1800's. A restored one mile segment is but a fraction of what once extended around much of the island of Hawai'i.

There are several heiau (Hawaiian religious sites) found in the park. The most prominent is Pu'uoina, located on the south end of the park boundary adjacent to the Honokähau boat harbor.

An example of a hölua (stone slide) is located on the east side of 'Aimakapä fishpond. The holua was used by the ali'i (Hawaiian chiefs) for recreation. The holua was prepared by lining the surface with grasses before the event began. This holua is only one of six in existence in Kona.

Visitor Information

This park is still under development. Future plans include a unique opportunity to restore the archeological resources to perpetuate traditional aquaculture, horticulture, and the living culture of Hawai'i. Drinking water and other concessions is not available. Overnight camping and fires are not allowed. Rest rooms are located at Kaloko fishpond and on the trail to Honoköhau beach. Interpretive programs are provided for educational groups when arranged in advance.

Visitor information is available at the park headquarters located in the Kaloko Industrial Park, two miles north of the Honoköhau Boat Harbor, or two miles south of the Ke-ähole Airport. Turn mauka (inland) on Hinalani Street. Take the first right hand turn onto Kanalani Street. Turn right into the fourth driveway. Our office hours are Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Cultural Resources include archeological sites and artifacts. Do not climb on or alter any rock structures, such as rock walls, heiau (ancient temples), or petroglyphs (rock engravings). All archeological sites are protected under the Archaeological Resources Protection Act.

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