Editor’s note: West Hawaii Today, in conjunction with the Kona Historical Society, is pleased to present readers a weekly feature compiled by the society called “A Guide to Old Kona.” These articles and accompanying photographs have been compiled and provided by Kona Historical Society and were published previously in a book of the same title.
Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park
This 1,160-acre shoreline and ocean park encompasses a wealth of ancient Hawaiian archaeological and historical features, among them Aimakapa and Kaloko fishponds, Aiopio fish trap, Puuoina Heiau, several kuula (fishing shrines), remains of a holua (ancient sled course), and numerous petroglyphs. This relatively new park (1978) is still in the early stages of development as a National Park. However, adventuresome visitors will find Honokohau Beach, tidal pools, natural wetlands, and a scenic coastline an exciting setting in which to learn about early Hawaiian history.
Although Kaloko-Honokohau may seem arid and inhospitable today, this area once supported a thriving Hawaiian settlement dating back to the 12th century. Within the sheltered waters of man-made fishponds along the seashore, residents raised tasty fish to feed the royal family and its many dependents. The alii could demand his favorite amae (mullet) or awa (milkfish) for dinner any time of year, regardless of bad weather, warfare, or famine. According to oral accounts, fish were delivered so quickly by swift runners to the king’s court they would arrive still fresh and wriggling.
Throughout the early 20th century, Hawaiian families lived along this coastline, continuing the traditions of fishing and salt making historically connected to the land. At Christmas and New Year’s, Kailua residents would gather before dawn at Akona Store, waiting for the donkeys from Kaloko to arrive. Each donkey carried a bulging pack filled with fresh awa. The donkeys knew the trail so well, they could make the trip to Kailua by themselves, while the fishermen hauled in the last of the catch. Kaloko fishpond was still in operation until 1961.
Visitors will find no amenities except restrooms at Kaloko pond at this time. The access gate to Kaloko pond is open from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily, or visitors can park at Honokohau Harbor and hike north into the park along a coastal trail.
Copyright 1998 Kona Historical Society. Reprinted by permission.