Waikoloa Petroglyph Reserve

Enjoy an Easy Walk Through a Historic Site at Waikoloa Petroglyph Reserve
Local Expert's Rating:
4 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Walk past historic markings in the stone as you enjoy an easy outdoor walk at the Waikoloa Petroglyph Reserve. Your trip will give you a deeper insight into the people who lived on the island before the resorts and tourists arrived. Make a stop by this historic site to enjoy a greater appreciation for the history of the island and Hawaiian culture.

- The HawaiianIslands.com Local Expert Team

You wouldn’t expect to find centuries-old petroglyphs next to a resort golf course, but the Waikoloa Petroglyph Reserve surprises visitors in many ways. A visit to this site is essential for history fans and anyone who wants to learn more about the previous inhabitants of the Island of Hawaii.

When you visit, look for subtle carvings in the lava rock surrounding you. These petroglyphs served many purposes for those who created them between 1400 and 1800. Some carvings record information about the journey through the island. Others marked significant events or rituals, such as births. These silent records of Hawaiians from the past continue to speak today to visitors who see them.

While you travel along the trails through the Waikoloa Petroglyph Reserve, look for constructed stone windbreaks or natural caves. These sites would serve as temporary shelters for those passing through the area.

Make sure to stop at each of the signs to read about the native people who made the petroglyphs. These informative signs are along the trail. Don’t stray from the trail to help preserve the rest of the area. Also, leave the rock carvings alone. Over time, touching the carvings or creating rubbings will cause these centuries-old etchings to wear away and disappear forever. Respect the historic nature of the site and take plenty of pictures but nothing else.

If you want to take photographs, the middle of the day is not the best time. The rock carvings will be difficult to see under direct sunlight. Instead, arrive when the sun is low in the sky, either early morning or late afternoon. The angle of sunlight will cast shadows into the carvings, allowing for sharper photographs of the petroglyphs. You will also be able to spot these carvings easier from the trail.

This reserve lies along the deeply historic King’s Highway Foot Trail. The trail itself through the reserve is only 0.9 miles and loops back to the beginning. However, you may continue along the King’s Highway if you want to hike more.

Most of the trail along the petroglyphs is rough over lava rocks. Sometimes, the trail may be difficult to see in these rougher areas. Consequently, it is not suitable for wheelchairs or strollers. Those who have trouble hiking may want to bring a hiking pole for support and stability along the trail.

There are no benches to rest along the trail. Be ready to walk the entire time, which can take 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how often you stop to look at the signs and petroglyphs.

While free to visit the petroglyphs and open all the time, you should also consider joining one of the free tours of the Waikoloa Petroglyph Reserve. These tours are also free and hosted by knowledgeable locals who can provide more information about the area and the petroglyphs than the signs can. Plus, tour guides will point out exceptionally interesting carvings to take note of.

The Hawaiian people who traveled along the King’s Highway in the 15th through 19th centuries left behind records of their activities through the petroglyphs at the Waikoloa Petroglyph Reserve. Take the time to examine these figures to take a temporary glimpse back in time to the days before the golf courses and resorts. Whether you love history or just want an interesting walk near Waikoloa Village, add a trip down the trails of this petroglyph preservation site to your list.

Insider Tips:
-Wear sturdy, close-toed shoes for walking over the uneven rocks.
-Bring a hat and wear sunscreen while in this sunny area that has few shady spots.
-Park for free at the lot next to the King’s Shops and walk to the Waikoloa Petroglyph Reserve.
-Visit in the morning to avoid the heat of the afternoon sun that bakes the lava rocks, increasing the overall temperature.
-Bring your own water. There is none available in the area.
-Do not touch any of the rock carvings. Doing so will cause them to wear away.
-Take advantage of the free tours of the petroglyph field starting at the nearby King’s Shops for more insight into the images.