Kaloko-Honokohau
National Historical Park
Hawai'i
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Despite the modern development nearby, here at Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park the ancient world surrounds you. Established in 1978, this park preserves the coastal sections of two ahupua'a (traditional land divisions), Kaloko and Honokōhau. In the past hundreds of Hawaiians lived here. Extended family groups fished, farmed, and lived self-sufficiently.

Hawaiian society was highly stratified; ali'i (chiefs) and priests ranked highest, followed by warriors, tradespeople, and commoners. They were governed by konohiki (land managers). Strict principles of land and ocean conservation were enforced through kapu, religious laws.

Look mauka, up toward the mountain Hualālai. Then look makai, out to sea. The ahupua'a extended from the upper slopes of the volcano down to the coast and even out into the ocean. Most necessities were found within the boundaries of the ahupua'a.

The volcano produced two types of lava: the smooth, ropy flows called pahoehoe, and the rough chunks of 'a'ā. Look closely at piles of rock protruding from the lava field—they may be ancient structures that survived because of Hawaiian engineering skill. Some of the ahu (large rock cairns) marked formal boundaries between ahupua'a, which ensured sufficient resources for the people of each ahupua'a.

Also built from lava rock were agricultural, fishing, and religious structures. On the road to Kaloko fishpond look for elevated planters used to cultivate sweet potatoes, gourds, and other crops. An old heiau (religious temple) stands at the southern end of the park beside 'Ai'ōpio fishtrap. Throughout Hawai'i heiau were built as tributes to the gods and for religious ceremonies dedicated to war, agriculture, fishing, ocean navigation, and medicine. Hawaiians gave offerings of prayers, plants, goods, chants, dance, and song.

Hawaiians had many different methods of fishing depending on the character of the coastal terrain. Nets were made of plant fiber, while fishhooks and lures were made from bone, shell, and rock. The coastal trail leads you past the Kaloko and 'Aimakapā fishponds and the 'Ai'ōpio fishtrap. Kaloko fishpond is an excellent example of traditional aquaculture. Fish were raised here to sustain the people.

Many coastal dwellers shared the ocean's bounty with their families in the uplands and, in return, received mountain products. Fish, salt, and coconuts were collected along the coast. Ulu (breadfruit), kalo (taro), and wauke (paper mulberry) were grown on the mountain.

Water is precious in this arid environment. Fresh groundwater flows downslope and mixes with salt water near the ocean. Where this brackish water is exposed at natural pits or hand-dug wells, it is known as an anchialine pond. The water level of these ponds fluctuates with the tide, reminding us of their underground connection to the sea. In times past they provided drinking water and food for humans. Now these ponds shelter rare plants and animals.

Near 'Aimakapā fishpond is the hōlua, or stone slide. The hōlua was used as a form of sport for the ali'i. Its surface was lined with grasses in preparation for use. Riders would race toboggan-like sleds to the bottom of the slide. The length of this hōlua is about 150 feet, and it was wide enough for two sledders at a time.

As you walk through this ancient homeland, keep in mind that not everything you see is from the past. You may see offerings left recently at certain sites, a reminder that traditional Hawaiian practices keep the spirit of the past very much alive at Kaloko-Honokōhau.

The Spirit of Kaloko-Honokōhau

Native Hawaiians sometimes speak of a mo'o, a water-dwelling guardian spirit, who rests on a rock as it watches over Kaloko fishpond. As long as the pond is cared for and treated with respect, the mo'o will allow bountiful fishing. But if the pond is disrespected, the mo'o will take the fish away, punishing not just those who brought harm to the sacred waters but everyone else as well..

In the past, the lava flows from Hualālai volcano were home to a community of hundreds of people. They lived within the ahupua'a, a land division extending from the mountaintop to the shoreline and into the ocean. Hawaiians thought of the land not just as a place to live but as an entity that possessed mana—spiritual power. Today at Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park, the spirit of mālama ka 'āina, "care for the land," continues..

Within the Ahupua'a

Forest
The forest was restricted to all but a few, such as the kahuna. The forest held a wealth of plants collected for food and medicines and timber for houses and canoes. Areas were cleared near the forest to cultivate bark-fiber plants (wauke) and upland food plants like breadfruit and taro. Pigs were raised for food or to pay taxes. Feathers from birds such as the 'ō'ō and 'i'iwi were collected and made into capes and headdresses, marks of royalty for the highest of the ali'i.

Lava flats
Scant rainfall made large-scale agriculture impossible on the Kona Coast. Instead, people used lava rock to build raised planters on the lava flats. They grew taro, sweet potatoes, and gourds. The husks of dry coconuts. soaked in water, were placed around the plants' roots to provide moisture and protection from the sun. The walls of the planters protected crops from drying winds.

Coast
The coastal zone was an area of high productivity. Crops were cultivated, the ocean's bounty was harvested through a variety of fishing methods, fresh water was available, and many people made their homes here. They built fishtraps and fishponds—walled-in areas along the shore where fish were raised. Fishponds belonged to the ali'i, who distributed fish when needed to feed the common people or the court.

Mālama Ka 'Āina—Care for the Land

Much has changed here since ancient times. Non-native plants and animals thrive in this coastal area, often at the expense of native species. The National Park Service practices mālama ka 'āina, "care for the land," by removing invasive species, monitoring native species, and educating the public.

A careful look may reward you with sightings of some native species. The 'alae ke'oke'o (Hawaiian coot) and the ae'o (Hawaiian black-necked stilt) are found only in Hawaii and are endangered. These birds nest along the edge of 'Aimakapā fishpond.

The pua pilo is a fragrant native flower that blooms in the early morning and fades by the afternoon. It is used in traditional medicine.

The yellow blooms of the 'ilima are also used in traditional medicine as well as being strung into beautiful leis.

The pohuehue (beach morning glory) is commonly seen against the salt-and-pepper (coral and lava rock) sand of the Hawaiian islands.

Planning Your Visit

park map
(click for larger map)

Getting to the Park Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park is on the west coast of the island of Hawai'i, between Kona International Airport and Kailua-Kona.

Stop first at Hale Ho'okipa, the park visitor information center, 4.2 miles south of the airport via Hawaii 19. Hours are 8:30 am to 4 pm daily. There is an information desk and sales area.

To drive to the beach area, turn right from the parking lot onto Hawaii 19 and go 0.6 mile south. Turn right on Kealakehe Parkway, take the next right, and follow the road to the park entrance.

Things to Do The park has few visitor facilities but many opportunities for exploring on your own. There is no food service in the park. You are welcome to picnic, but open fires and glass containers are not allowed.

Park trails are unpaved and cross areas of soft sand and loose, jagged 'a'ā lava. If you plan to hike, wear thick-soled shoes, carry water, and prepare for unshaded terrain. Even on a short hike, it is easy to get lost out on the lava. To help protect fragile park resources, please stay on the trails.

The 0.5-mile Ala Hele Ike Hawai'i trail leads from the main parking area to the beach. It connects with the Ala Hele Kahakai, or Coastal Trail, which runs north-south beside the ocean and takes you along the sand beach and fishponds and through areas of dense vegetation. Two historic trails, the Māmalahoa, dating from the 1830s, and the Ala Hele Hu'e Hu'e (an old ranch road), cross the lava fields.

Regulations This area is considered sacred; please treat it as such. All cultural and natural objects within the park are protected by federal law.
• Do not climb on or deface walls, pick plants or flowers, or remove artifacts or rocks.
• Open fires and glass containers are not permitted.
• Pets must be leashed.
• Service animals are welcome; they must be leashed.
• For firearms regulations see the park website www.nps.gov/kaho.

Related Sites There are two other National Park Service areas on the west coast of the island of Hawai'i where you can explore traditional life. Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park is 22 miles south of Kailua-Kona. Pu'ukoholā Heiau National Historic Site is 27 miles north of Kona International Airport.

Source: NPS Brochure (2011)


Establishment

Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park — November 10, 1978


For More Information
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Link to Official NPS Website
OFFICIAL NPS
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Brochures ◆ Site Bulletins ◆ Trading Cards expand section

Documents

'Ai'opio Fishtrap Documentation, Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park Submerged Resources Center Professional Report No. 24 (Sami K. Seeb and Matthew A. Russell, 2007)

A Cultural History of Three Traditional Hawaiian Sites on the West Coast of Hawai'i Island (HTML edition) (Linda Wedel Greene, September 1993)

Assessment of Coastal Water Resources and Watershed Conditions in Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, Hawai'i NPS Natural Resource Technical Report NPS/NRWRD/NRTR-2005/344 (Daniel Hoover and Colette Gold, December 2005)

Baseline assessment of the coral reef habitat in Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park adjacent to the proposed Honokohau Harbor expansion
and development, Kona Kai Ola, 2006-2007
Pacific Islands Cooperative National Park Resources Studies Unit Technical Report No. 189 (M. Weijerman, S. Beavers, L. Marrack and R. Most, 2014)

Baseline assessment of the coral reef habitat in Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park adjacent to the Shores at Kohanaiki development, 2006-2007 Pacific Islands Cooperative National Park Resources Studies Unit Technical Report No. 190 (L. Marrack, S. Beavers, M. Weijerman and R. Most, 2014)

Biological and water quality characteristics of anchialine resources in Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, with recommendations for their management Pacific Islands Cooperative National Park Resources Studies Unit Technical Report No. 112 (R. E. Brock and A. K. H. Kam, October 1997)

Birds of Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park Pacific Islands Cooperative National Park Resources Studies Unit Technical Report No. 104 (M. P. Morin, May 1996)

Characterizing weed management activities for archeological site preservation and grass-fire mitigation at Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park Pacific Islands Cooperative National Park Resources Studies Unit Technical Report No. 184 (J. Leary and J. Gross, 2013)

Coastal change rates and patterns: Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, Hawai'i USGS Open-File Report 2005-1069 (Cheryl J. Hapke, Rick Gmirkin, and Bruce M. Richmond, 2005)

Coastal circulation and water column properties along Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, Hawaii. Part 1, Measurements of waves, currents, temperature, salinity and turbidity, April-October 2004 USGS Open-File Report 2005-1161 (Curt D. Storlazzi and M. Katherine Presto, 2005)

Coastal Hazard Analysis Report: Pu‘ukoholā Heiau National Historic Site and Kaloko-Honokōhau Historical Park, Big Island of Hawai‘i NPS Natural Resource Technical Report NPS/NRPC/GRD/NRTR—2010/387 (S. Vitousek, M.M. Barbee, C.H. Fletcher, B.M. Richmond and A.S. Genz, October 2010)

Coral Bleaching, Mortality and Benthic Community Assemblages on the Reefs within the Pacific Island Network National Parks NPS Natural Resource Report NPS/PACN/NRR-2021/2322 (Amanda L. McCutcheon and Sheila A. McKenna, November 2021)

Coral Reefs in the U.S. National Parks: A Snapshot of Status and Trends in Eight Parks NPS Natural Resource Report NPS/NRPC/NRR-2009/091 (Nash C. V. Doan, K. Kageyama, A. Atkinson, A. Davis, J. Miller, J. Patterson, M. Patterson, B. Ruttenberg, R. Waara, L. Basch, S. Beavers, E. Brown, P. Brown, M. Capone, P. Craig, T. Jones and G. Kudray, April 2009)

Description and map of the plant communities of Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park Pacific Islands Cooperative National Park Resources Studies Unit Technical Report No. 73 (J. E. Canfield, November 1990)

Distribution and abundance of alien and native plant species in Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park Pacific Islands Cooperative National Park Resources Studies Unit Technical Report No. 103 (L. W. Pratt and L. L. Abbott, May 1996)

Draft Environmental Statement: Proposed Ka-Loko, Hono-Ko-Hau National Cultural Park, Hawaii (March 1975)

Endangered waterbird and wetland status, Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, Hawaii Island Pacific Islands Cooperative National Park Resources Studies Unit Technical Report No. 119 (M. P. Morin, June 1998)

Foundation Document, Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, Hawai'i (June 2018)

Foundation Document Overview, Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, Hawai'i (July 2018)

Geologic Resources Inventory Report, Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park NPS Natural Resource Report NPS/NRPC/GRD/NRR-2011/384 (T.L. Thornberry-Ehrlich, April 2011)

Hawai'i Island National Parks Junior Ranger Adventure Book (c2016)

Herpetological inventory in West Hawai'i national parks: Pu'uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park, Pu'ukoholā Heiau National Historic Site Pacific Islands Cooperative National Park Resources Studies Unit Technical Report No. 141 (J. Bazzano, April 2007)

He Wahi Mo'olelo 'Ohana No Kaloko Me Honokohau Ma Kekaha O Na Kona — A Collection of Family Traditions Describing - Customs, Practices, and Beliefs of the Families Andlands of Kaloko and Honokohau, North Kona, Island of Hawai'i (Kepa Maly and Onaona Maly, ©Kumo Pono Associations, April 1, 2002)

Inventory of marine vertebrate species and fish-habitat utilization patterns in coastal waters off four national parks in Hawai'i Pacific Islands Cooperative National Park Resources Studies Unit Technical Report No. 168 (Jim Beets, Eric Brown and Alan Friedlander, February 2010)

Junior Ranger Adventure Book, Hawai'i Island National Parks (Date Unknown)

Predicting Impacts of Sea Level Rise for Cultural and Natural Resources in Five National Park Units on the Island of Hawai'i Pacific Islands Cooperative National Park Resources Studies Unit Technical Report No. 188 (Lisa Marrack and Patrick O'Grady, June 2014)

Relative Coastal Vulnerability Assessment of Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park (KAHO) to Sea-Level Rise USGS Open-File Report 2005-1248 (Elizabeth A. Pendleton, E. Robert Thieler and S. Jeffress Williams, 2006)

Removal of alien red mangrove from Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park Pacific Islands Cooperative National Park Resources Studies Unit Technical Report No. 162 (R. Fronda, M. Lane-Kamahele and B. Harry, December 2008)

Resources of the marine waters of Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park Pacific Islands Cooperative National Park Resources Studies Unit Technical Report No. 74 (J. D. Parrish, G. C. Smith and J. E. Norris, December 1990)

The Spirit of Ka-loko Hono-ko-hau: A Proposal for the Establishment of a Ka-loko Hono-ko-hau National Cultural Park (Hono-ko-hau Study Advisory Commission, 1974)

Topobathymetry Map of Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, Hawaii (March 2022)

Vegetation management strategies for three national historical parks on Hawai'i Island Pacific Islands Cooperative National Park Resources Studies Unit Technical Report No. 121 (Linda W. Pratt, September 1998)



Handbooks ◆ Books expand section

Videos

Explanation by Fred Cachola of how Kaloko-Honokohau became a national park



kaho/index.htm
Last Updated: 15-Mar-2022