Top 3 Destinations to visit inside Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (part III)


The third destination to see when you visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is the Pu’u Loa Petroglyphs. Pu’u Loa translates to “long hill” or “hill of long life” in Hawaiian. This place is considered sacred to the Hawaiian people and it’s a must see on any Hawaii volcano tour.

Pu’u Loa is located on the southern side of Kilauea and it’s absolutely covered in petroglyphs. More than 23,000 petroglyphs have been carved into the lava rocks here. The images range from holes and circles to human representations, canoes and feathers. The lava here is dated between AD 1200-1450 but it’s not exactly known when the petroglyphs were carved.

It’s thought that the images carved into the lava were more than just ornamental or aesthetic in nature. Rather, these images were meant to record travel around the island of Hawaii and as an expression of human existence and longevity. They were also possibly used to communicate events—like a historical record—as well as mark boundaries and even trails.

Something you may want to do to enrich your experience at Pu’u Loa is to research some beforehand. For instance, some of the petroglyphs have been decoded—one hole is for a child, a circle with a hole is for a first born and so on. If you pick up a book on how to read these images, it may make for a much more fascinating hike.

No matter how much preparation you do, taking a guided tour of this area is recommended. The tour guide can tell you more about the history of the place, the ancient people who created the images and the ongoing research archeologists are doing in the area. By taking a tour you’ll learn much more and not have to rely so much on a guide book given at the ranger station.

Also, be sure you wear comfortable shoes for this day-long tour. It’s a lot of hiking to see all of Volcanoes National Park but it’s well worth it. Once you’ve seen the park, you’ll walk away with a much better understanding of the ancient Hawaiian people and Hawaii in general. Seeing Kilauea is a wonder. Few places in the world contain so many amazing sights in one area. The Big Island is truly beautiful and fascinating from a scientific and anthropological point of view. Enjoy your trip and be sure to book your tour early!

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