Lapakahi State Historical Park

Lapakahi State Historical Park -- Recreation of an Ancient Fishing Village in Northwest Hawaii
Local Expert's Rating:
4 / 5
The Bottom Line:

The Lapakahi State Historical Park is a unique archaeological area in which guests can walk through the remains and recreations of an ancient Hawaiian fishing village. Located on the Big Island's northwest coast, this is a fantastic place to learn more about those early settlers.

- The Local Expert Team

Have you found yourself imagining the way of life of early Hawaiians? If so, then you will appreciate a visit to the Lapakahi State Historical Park. This unique recreational area offers a fantastic glimpse at the island’s history and does so at a beautiful location on the Big Island.

The Lapakahi State Historical Park is located on the Big Island’s large northwestern curve of land (this area is more formally known as the North Kohala District). The park spans 262 acres, much of it coastline, and is completely free to all visitors (so long as you come during open visitor hours).

The land here has been in use for nearly 700 years. Only, where now it serves as a mostly a memorial to times long past, it was once was a thriving community. The way the lava shaped the land and the direction of trade winds made this an ideal spot for a fishing village. Today, remnants of the historic fishing village dot the landscape and much of the area has served as an informative archaeological site for those interested in the Hawaiians of the past.

The big draw of the Lapakahi State Historic Park is learning more about the people who lived here through archaeological remnants. There is a one-mile trail that meanders through a historically-accurate, partially-restored fishing settlement. Here, you will see buildings, tools, and other artifacts as they would have appeared to the people living here 600 years ago and more. The tour is set up as a self-guided one, with attractions like restored hale houses and lava stone walls. Unfortunately, there are no plaques currently set up at any of these sites. You will instead need to use the more basic printed maps available at the park’s entrance. 

Just off the shore from the Lapakahi State Historical Park is the Lapakahi Marine Life Conservation District. This is a state-protected offshore area that is renowned for its abundant marine life. Powerboats and similar large boating operations are not allowed in this area, but individuals can snorkel here. The problem is that access to the waters here is not easy due to its protected nature. One way to get to these active waters is via the Lapakahi State Historical Park.

To reach the good snorkeling areas, simply head to the northern beach areas of the Lapakahi State Historical Park. You will see a small beach area and often others snorkeling just off of it. Be cautious. Getting over the rocks here can be tricky and as with many of Hawaii’s waters, the currents can get rough. Proceed with caution and try and only go out when you see others snorkeling safely in the water. 

One thing to note is that while this is a state park, the trails are not paved and are fairly uneven. Most of them are going to be inaccessible to wheelchairs and hard for those with similar mobility issues. Visitors should also note that pets, fishing, and motorized vehicles like ATVs are all not allowed and that the bathrooms are the basic portable style with no running water.

Insider Tips:
-They only have paper maps available for the self-guided tour as of now and unfortunately, they often run out of them. Make sure to print out your own copy from the state’s website if you are really interested in learning the most about the area.
-General swimming is not recommended here due to choppy waters, strong currents, and rocky shoreline. You can, however, just go a few minutes north and find a more fully amenities park at Mahukona Beach Park. This park features a nice swimming area and full showers with running water.