Puako Petroglyph Preserve is located on the west coast of the Big Island of Hawaii, close to Mauna Lani Resort area. The Malama Trail starts at the parking lot and works its way through scrub forest and lava flows to a petroglyph field on an out-and-back 2.4 km trail.
After a first display area of petroglyphs inscribed on boulders right next to the trail, the route then winds through a dense kiawe forest. Watch out for thorns!
The trail goes through open areas to within a lava field from the 1801 Kaniku lava flow. The whole surface area of this part of the island was covered in basaltic lava from Hulalai and Mauna Loa, erupting simultaneously.
At the end of the trail is a petroglyph field, a series of titled slabs of smooth lava. Inscribed into the surface are hundreds of petroglyphs. Click on an image for a full-sized photo.
After walking around the archaeological site, the trail returns by the same route through the kiawe to the trailhead.
The more than 3000 Puako images date back up to 1000 years. The meanings of the symbols have been lost but it is easy to see that the images of people, animals. and spirits were closely linked to the lives of the ancient Hawaiians.