The Hawaiian Islands have a rich history and the Big Island’s mountains, oceans, and significant landmarks all have fascinating stories to tell. Whether you are a visitor or kama’iana (resident), we think it’s important to immerse yourself in the culture of your surroundings. In addition to the National and State Parks on the Big Island, there are plenty of other historical places to check out. Below are some of our favorites.
Ala KahakaiVisit Website
Ala Kahakai is a 175 mile trail network of historical and cultural significant sites traversing different ahupua’a’s of the island.
Hawai’i VolcanoesVisit Website
Volcano National Park encompasses nearly 523 miles of the island is one of Hawaii’s most popular attraction. There is hundreds of miles of hiking, sightseeing and awe-inspiring sights of volcanic craters, lava tubes, petroglyphs, and two active volcanoes (Kilaeua and Mauna Loa). Some of our highlights in the Park include the Chain of Craters Road, Thurston Lava Tube, Kilauea Iki Trail, and the Pu’u Loa Petroglyphs.
Hulihe’e PalaceVisit Website
This palace is the former summer home of Hawaiian royalty and is located in the town of Kailua-Kona off of Ali’I Drive. The palace was originally built of lava rocks in 1838. The palace has since been converted into a museum showcasing Hawaiian artifacts, ornaments, and significant pieces of furniture and art.
It’s common to spot honu (green sea turtles) at the Honokahou Beach in this national park. This park is rich with Hawaiian fishing culture and tradition, with ancient fishponds, a heaiu (temple), and miles of coastline beach that is perfect for a sunset beach walk.
Kealakekua Bay State Historical ParkVisit Website
Kealakekua Bay is a historically significant site located in Captain Cook, just south of Kailua-Kona. The bays crystal clear water makes the bay one of the best spots snorkeling spots on the island. The bay marks the spot where Captain James Cook first arrived to the Big Island in 1779. While he was initially welcomed by the native Hawaiian’s, one year later this same bay marks the spot where he was killed by the same Hawaiian’s that greeted him one year previously.
Kiholo State Park ReserveVisit Website
Located about 20 miles north of Kona lies this picturesque coastal reserve with tranquil and clear water. This State Park is surrounded by lava flows with a calm rocky beach which is great for swimming, whale watching, and snorkeling. Camping is permitted at Kiholo Bay on the weekends, but you must have a permit!
Kona Historical SocietyVisit Website
The Kona Historical Society, a nonprofit organization, maintains two historic sites and the archives of Jean Greenwell which includes one of the largest photgraphic collections in Hawaii.
Lapakahi State Historical ParkVisit Website
Surrounded by the lava fields on the North Kohala Coast, this state park is a partially restored fishing village dating back nearly 600 years. Learn about this ancient coastal settlement on the self-guided one mile tour.
Mokuaikaua ChurchVisit Website
With a congregation dating back to 1820, this is the oldest Christian Church in the state of Hawaii. Located in Kailua-Kona off of Ali’i Drive, the church still holds weekly services and is open daily for visits.
Pu`uhonua O HōnaunauVisit Website
Pu`uhonua O Hōnaunau is an important Hawaiian ceremonial site located on the South Kona coast. This is a place that was once the home of royalty and also a place where ancient Hawaiian lawbreakers would seek refuge.
Pu`ukoholā HeiauVisit Website
This historic park contains one of the most significant and magnificent heaius on the island. The temple built by King Kamehameha the Great and supposedly one thousand of his men, was constructed to fulfill a prophecy to conquer all of the islands.