Park location: This state historical park is located in the North Kohala area, about 12 miles north of Kawaihae Harbor. There is no entrance fee to Lapakahi State Historical Park and it is open from 8:00am to 4:00 pm on all days except State Holidays.
Park terrain: Lapakahi State Historical Park is the ancient site and archeological research location of a Hawaiian settlement that covers about 262 acres. The waters just off the coast of this park are dedicated to the Lapakahi Marine Life Conservation District.
Activities: Here in this town, the original villagers were mostly fishermen deriving most of their livelihoods from the sea. Guests can venture on a one-mile self guided tour that provides information and historical insight into how life would have been for Hawaiians nearly 600 years ago. Explore a restored authentic hale (Hawaiian hut) and the surrounding stone walls made from lava rock. Children and adults alike can learn about the lifestyle, day-to-day activities and games that Hawaii’s ancestors would have played.It is not safe to swim in the waters off the coast as the shores can be rough and the Lapakahi Marine Life Conservation is teeming with protected tropical fish. For a look into another chapter of history, a little to the north of the Lapakahi State Historical Park, there was once a sugar mill. Tourists can absorb many aspects of how life would have been hundreds of years ago in the Lapakahi area.
Guests are advised that there is no drinking water on site at the Lapakahi State Historical Park, though there are restrooms, trash cans, and visitor information booths for their convenience.
Park location: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, is a major attraction located in the central southern part of the Big Island, just 30 miles southwest of Hilo. The park covers an enormous expanse of nearly 333,000 acres. The park is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If you don’t have a National Park pass, the entrance fee is typically $10 per vehicle and $5 per individual for a 7-day period.
Park terrain: The park offers a variety of terrain, from coastal areas to mountainous regions, lava flows, rain forests, arid desert lands, and of course, active volcanoes.
Activities: The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which contains the active volcanoes of Kilauea and Mauna Loa, is by far one of the most unique attractions in all of Hawaii. Nowhere else in the United States can tourists venture in safe contact, assuming extreme caution is exercised, with flowing magma as well as observe firsthand the unspoiled result of hardened lava over homes, villages and roads.
Kilauea Volcano is famous for being the most active volcano on the planet, and at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, tourists can often witness its most recent lava flows. Kilauea, meaning spewing, is a volcano that has been actively creating lava flows since 1983. Like all volcanoes in Hawaii, Kilauea is a shield volcano. It produces anywhere from 250,000 to 650,000 cubic yards of lava on a daily basis. The continuous flow of magma is expanding and changing the shape of the Big Island. Since the recent eruptions began, over 500 acres of land has been added to the island, without any signs of slowing down.
Based on its mass and volume, Mauna Loa (meaning long mountain) is considered to be the largest volcano on Earth and last erupted in 1984. Though it has not resulted in fatalities over the last few decades, Mauna Loa is responsible for the 1926 and 1950 eruptions which ruined villages in its destructive path.
During your visit here, it important to note that extremely hazardous volcanic gas or volcanic activity can emerge in many places in the park, particularly anywhere along Crater Rim Drive or the Chain of Craters Road. If this is the case, visitors are advised to leave the area if the air smells strongly of sulfur or if anyone is has any difficulty breathing; as such gases can be extremely toxic. Visitors must check with the Kilauea Visitor Center or with National Park rangers about the status of current volcanic activity and recent warnings.
The drive along the park’s Chain of Craters Road ends in a region where lava literally engulfed the pavement, preventing cars from continuing down the path. It is one of the most iconic and stark areas in the park. From a distance (hopefully a safe one), the lava from Kilauea’s Pu’u O’o vent can be seen flowing into the sea in a fury of hissing steam and smoke. This dynamic view is culturally significant as it represents the religious folklore of Pele, the Hawaiian fire goddess, converging with the sea. The Chain of Craters Road is open from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm daily.
The Crater Rim Drive is a nearly 11 mile stretch that will take you to all the park’s other primary attractions, such as the: Thurston Lava Tube, Kilauea Overlook, Jaggar Museum, Devastation Trail and Halemaumau Crater, known as the home of Pele. West of Crater Rim Drive, the Jagger Museum adjoins to an observatory and is a phenomenal way to gain historical insight and understanding about these volcanoes. Additionally, there are numerous scenic hiking and bike trails available within the park. Details of such trails can be found on brochures provided at the main visitor center.
The only hotel in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is the classic Volcano House, where legends such as Mark Twain have stayed to observe this unique environment. Overlooking Halemaumau Crater and the summit of Kilauea, Volcano House was first built in 1846 and has been restored to modern-day elegance most recently in 2013. Campsites are also available in the park through the Hawaii Volcanoes Lodge Company.
Kilauea Visitor Center is the main visitor center and is located at the entrance of the park and provides brochures, maps and details about the park. This visitor center offers short informational films showing hourly throughout the day from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. There are also two book stores and a Volcano Art Center Gallery for those who want to enjoy dramatic renderings of nature’s fierce giants. There are restrooms, drinking water, and payphones for the visitor’s convenience in these main welcome areas.
Here, vacationers can also venture deeper into the ocean on scuba diving and snorkeling excursions to view glorious Hawaiian marine life up close. The waters are teeming with varied species from banded coral shrimp and hermit crab to sea cucumbers, sea urchins and reef fish, all of which can be seen firsthand. You can witness original petroglyphs made by ancient Hawaiians or visit Honokohau Beach which is known for its striking color contrast of white sands against black lava rocks and heiaus.
Visitors should be aware that there is no food for sale within the park itself, with the nearest place to purchase food in Kailua-Kona a few miles away. There are restrooms at different locations in the park, but there is no drinking water; so be sure to bring your own. For more visiting information call (808) 329-6881.
Park location: Pu’uhonua O Honuanau National Historical Park is located on the southern end of the Kona Coast. For those without a National Park pass, the charge for entering is $5 per car and $3 per individual, except on certain national holidays when entrance into the park is free. The park is open at 7:00 am daily, closing 15 minutes after sunset.
Park terrain: This pu’uhonua, or place of refuge, features a number of historically significant sites as well as scenic coastal property and trails covering over 180 acres of federally protected land on the Kona Coast. A pu’uhonua, such as the one located here, served as a place of refuge for ancient Hawaiians accused of crimes, breaking the rigid kapu system, or for those seeking safety from battle. There is a visitor center, coastal villages, royal grounds, fishponds, trails, heiaus (or sacred temples) and the pu’uhonua ceremonial site. There are also picnic areas in the park and places to capture scenic views of Keone’ele Cove and Honaunau Bay.
Activities: The Pu’uhonua O Honuanau National Historic Park is one of the most famous and well-preserved locations where ancient Hawaiian history comes alive. Since the park became nationally recognized in 1961, thousands of tourists, families, schools and historians have swarmed here to learn about the history and cultural practices relating to pu’uhonua and kapu. The kapu system, the ancient Hawaii code of laws and regulations, was not to be tampered with. If a person was found violating or breaking a kapu, they could suffer instant torture or death. Common people were not allowed to approach the chiefs or even let their shadows fall on the royal grounds. Women could not eat certain foods, such as bananas or coconuts. Such mistakes were punishable by death, unless the guilty one could manage to reach a pu’uhonua, before pursuers could catch the fugitive. The pu’uhonua was considered a place of refuge, where a kahuna (or priest) could declare the accused to be forgiven, and thereafter they could go home in peace. The site was also a sanctuary for defeated warriors or non-combatants.
Travelers can gain information about the site at the visitor learning center, as well as explore a self-guided walking tour highlighting halaus (or thatched work houses), fishponds, heiaus, royal grounds and burial sites as well as the Great Wall of lava rock, which stands 10 feet high and 17 feet thick. The royal grounds and burial sites were protected by poles of wooden carved gods and by the Great Wall.
Once inside the park, there are numerous demonstrations and hands-on experiences to enjoy, such as witnessing canoe builders hard at work, spear throwing competitions, as well as brief and informative seminars at the amphitheater. As specific times throughout the year, there are also festivals, performances, games as well as arts-and-crafts. Groups can also explore nearby trails for long treks through heiaus and other archeological sites.
Visitors should be aware that food is not available for purchase in the park, so guests will need to bring their own. However, there are picnic tables, grills as well as drinking fountains on site. Note that pets are only allowed at picnic areas, trails and coastal walks, but not at any of the pu’uhonua or historic areas.
Activities: This park is considered a prime location to engage in outdoor sports such as hunting wild boar, sheep and birds. It is also an excellent camp site with cabins for rent and a well-equipped dining hall for those who want to go on an extended their hunting trip or enjoy staying in the wild.