Sunday, August 24, 2014

A day at Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park

Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park  is a 1160 acre park in North Kona with an ancient Hawaiian fishpond and  unique stone fish trap.  The park has three entrances: the north entrance road to Kaloko fishpond, the center entrance to the Visitor’s center, and the south entrance, within Kona’s Honokohau Small Boat Harbor, to the ‘Ai’opio fish trap.
Kaloko fishpond
Kaloko fishpond, the widest and largest fishpond in the state of Hawaii, is on the northern end of the park.  

The fishpond is accessible by a rough, dirt road behind a gate just north of the Visitor’s Center gate on Highway 19.  
Dirt road to Kaloko fish pond from Highway 19
The road is deeply rutted which makes for a bumpy ride, but is passable with a regular car
Rutted dirt road to Kaloko fishpond
From the road, you can see the old “King’s Trail” that runs along the coast.  The road also passes by ancient rock walls and foundations.

Kings Trail
At the end of the road is a parking lot just a few steps away from the fishpond and a small white sand beach. 
Kaloko fishpond parking lot
Kaloko fish pond is very large with a massive rock wall that encloses the fishpond.
Kaloko fishpond rock wall
The wall was restored after 13 years of effort using ancient Hawaiian building techniques.

Local Hawaiians with the knowledge of how to create kuapa walls by setting interlocking stones, without shaping or using cement, rebuilt the impressive wall.  You can walk on top of  the solid and stable structure and look down at the pounding surf.  Each stone has been perfectly placed and sits neatly and securely within all the other stones.  
Ancient Hawaii stone building
The mason workers say that they “listen” to where the stone wants to be placed.  The recreation of a stone wall of this scale and complexity will hopefully retain the knowledge of Uhau Humu Pohaku (Hawaiian Dry Stack Masonry) on Hawaii Island.

Honokohau Beach
The ‘Ai’opio fishtrap and Honokohau white sand beach are located at the southern end of the park.  There is a trail to it from the Visitor’s center or easier access from a  south park entrance within Kona’s Honokohau Boat Harbor.  The harbor entrance is at Kealakehe Parkway off Highway 19.  The palm tree lined Kealakehe Parkway has a plaque on the side of the road installed in 1964 recognizing the Hawaiian Honokohau Settlement as a National Historic Landmark. 
Plaque in Honokohau Harbor
The park entrance is located near Kona Sailing Club which can be reached by taking a right turn at the first intersection  on Kealakehe Parkway road in the harbor.  
South  gate to the National Park in the Harbor
A large parking lot is located on the left and the park gate is located on the right.   
Path to fishpond
Pedestrian and animals on a leash can pass through the gate to an unpaved park trail that leads to the coastline.  The trail is rocky from the gate to the beach, not wheelchair accessible, but only about a half mile to the beach. 

White sand beach and canoe house
The beach in front of the fish trap has a restored canoe house and shade for a picnic or enjoying the view.  Some people bring chairs  and spend the day snorkeling or fishing. 
'Ai'opio stone fishtrap
The ‘Ai’opio fishtrap is an usual stone structure in a 1.7 acre pond.  The stone walls surrounding the pond were low enough to allow fish in during high tide but high enough to trap the fish at low tide.  The fish trap captured and stored fish as opposed to the fish ponds where fish were raised.  
Maliu Point
At the south end of the beach is Maliu Point Resource Area, a protected historical area with stone walls and remains of a temple.  From the point, there is a great view of the open ocean.

Channel in Kona Honokohau Harbor
An alternate walk from the park back to the parking lot is near Mailu Point, where a gate leads to the side of Kona’s Honokohau Small Boat Harbor channel.  You can walk along the channel where the boats enter and leave the harbor. 
Visitors Center in Kaloko Honokohau National Park
The Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park Visitor’s Center is located 4.2 miles south of Kona International airport on Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway (Highway 19) and a half a mile north of the entrance to Kona's Honokohau Harbor.  The center has a large parking area, bathrooms, and a small store.  Park information and maps are available and a park ranger is on site to talk story.  Entrance is free. The gate is open 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  (park website:

For descriptions and directions to hundreds of other interesting places to visit on Hawaii Island, check out Your Ideal Hawaii Island Vacation  guide in black and white or color versions.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

When to Visit Hawaii Island

The best time to visit Hawaii Island is during off-season. Most people come between January and March to escape the cold weather on the mainland.  They come to soak up some sun and thaw out and end up frustrated with the high prices, slow service, crowds, and choppy ocean.

High Season in Hawaii is December 15th to April 15th when it is the most crowded and the most expensive.  Airline ticket prices can be double or triple off season as can hotel rooms and rental cars. It is not usual to not be able to find a rental car or hotel room at this time. There is a second mini-high season during the summer, from June 15th to August 30th, when families visit with their children during summer break. It is usually a little cheaper than high season with more hotel rooms available.

There are two off-season periods on Hawaii Island.  The first is from April 15th to June 15thand the second is September 1st to December 15th.  
Empty beach on Hawaii Island

During these times, the beaches are empty and the weather is fantastic. If you take the time to hunt down good deal they can be great bargains for hotels and activities.

During the off season times the ocean is usually warmer, calmer, and better for snorkeling.  It is less rainy on most parts of the island and the temperature on average is a comfortable 85 degrees.  There are more hours of sunlight in the summer for sightseeing, swimming, and lying on the beach. The roads have less traffic, the prices are lower, and there are more places to stay. 

Summer is a great time of year in Hawaii.  The sun is up longer so there is plenty of time for long walks in the evening and warm ocean swims to cool off.  There are empty tables at the restaurants, empty hotel pools, and the beaches are deserted for morning walks. 

Read about the amazing things to see and do on vacation in: Your Ideal Hawaii Island Vacation: A Guide for Visiting the Big Island of Hawaii