Green Sea Turtle at Kaloko-Hono Kohan National Historical Park, Kailua Kona.

Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park

Kona Coast

Just north of Honokohau Harbor, on the ocean side of Hwy 19, this 1160-acre national park may be the Kona Coast's most underappreciated ancient Hawaiian site. Hidden among lava fields lies evidence of the innovations that allowed Hawaiians to thrive in this hostile landscape: fish traps, lava planters used to grow taro and other staples, plus the ahupuaʻa (land division) between Kaloko and Honokohau that gives the park its name. There are also heiau (temples), burial caves and petroglyphs.

Despite the seemingly endless expanse of lava rock and unbearable midday heat, this is a good place to explore. Go in the early morning, late afternoon or when skies are overcast. Kokua (please) remember not to climb on, move, alter or deface any rock structures. Take special care not to disturb the endangered honu (green sea turtles), who haul out here to rest, feed and bask in the sun – it's illegal to approach them closer than 20ft away on land, or 50yd in the water.

The park's main entrance is off Hwy 19 between Miles 96 and 97, where there's a parking lot and a small but informative ranger-staffed visitor center.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Kona Coast attractions

1. ʻAimakapa Fishpond

0.33 MILES

In the southern section of Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, ʻAimakapa is the largest fishpond on the Kona Coast. It's home to aeʻo (Hawaiian…

2. Honokohau Beach

0.61 MILES

The water is usually too cloudy for snorkeling at this beautiful hook-shaped beach with a mix of black lava, white coral and wave-tossed shells, but just…

3. Kaloko Fishpond

0.99 MILES

At the northern end of Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, this fishpond is especially fascinating because its massive rock retaining wall has been…

6. Big Island Abalone

2.95 MILES

Abalone – otherwise known as sea snails – have delicious flesh and gorgeous shells, and as such, this outfit is trying to figure out a sustainable way of…

7. Wawaloli Beach

3.05 MILES

At the makai (seaward) end of the access road to the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority, this quiet locals' beach is perfectly positioned for…

8. Herb Kane Paintings

3.08 MILES

Step inside King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel, just next to to Ahuʻena Heiau, to view historical paintings and a mural by legendary artist and Hawaiian…