In Waikoloa, History and Culture Meet Tropical Paradise

By Karen Rose
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ʻAnaehoʻomalu or A-Bay. Photo: Rosa Say.

Nestled among the dramatic black lava fields of South Kohala, on the sunny west coast of the Island of Hawaiʻi, lies the beautiful resort town of Waikoloa. With minimal rainfall, and plenty of daily sunshine, it’s the perfect location for a water adventure or an easy hike through ancient petroglyph fields and historical temples.

Anaehoomalu Bay, Affectionately Known as A-Bay

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ʻAnaehoʻomalu or A-Bay at sunset. Photo: Hawaii.com member Gae M.

ʻAnaehoʻomalu, or A-Bay, is the picturesque beach and recreation area located at Waikoloa Beach Resort. It’s the perfect spot to sip a tropical cocktail and watch the sunset or experience one of the many ocean activities available to sea lovers. Snorkelers, windsurfers and swimmers love the warm water and scenic beauty of this popular destination. Take a sunset cocktail cruise, or explore the ocean floor and colorful coral reefs on a glass-bottom boat. However you choose to spend the day at A-Bay, it’s sure to give you a host of lifelong memories.

Petroglyphs in Waikoloa

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Ancient petroglyphs seen carved into lava rocks along the coast. Photo: Hawaii.com member Suzanne O.

Archaeology buffs will revel in the numerous petroglyphs and stone etchings that are scattered throughout Waikoloa Beach Resort. Early Hawaiians had no written language, therefore scholars believe that petroglyphs were used to communicate important information such as astronomical knowledge, directions for travelers, or significant historical events. There is a clearly marked petroglyph trail that is located near the King’s Shops gas station. Free, guided tours are offered Thursday through Sunday at 9:30 a.m. It’s strongly advised to not touch these archeological treasures, as they are thousands of years old and are easily damaged. However, feel free to bring your camera and take plenty of photographs.

Historical Fishponds in Waikoloa

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Ancient fishponds near the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows. Photo: Hawaii.com member C. Hudock.

In addition to harvesting wild fish, early Hawaiians also practiced aquafarming, the cultivation of freshwater and saltwater sea life. The area around Waikoloa was known for this thriving aquaculture. Two of these ancient fishponds, Ku‘uali‘i and Kahapapa, are located just behind the beach at A-Bay. These ponds were cared for by families who passed down the knowledge to subsequent generations along with stories of young runners who would deliver fresh fish from the ponds to King Kamehameha at his residence in Kailua-Kona. This is a sacred and protected area, so please stay on the trail!

Ala Kahakai

Photo:  Rosa Say.

Photo: Rosa Say.

Ala Kahakai is a national historical trail that runs along the coastline behind Waikoloa Beach Resort. Ala Kahakai means “trail by the sea” and was once used to join communities, fishing spots and other significant sites along the Kona Coastline. Today it is accessible at several locations along the shore of A-Bay. Again, there are many historical and archaeological features along the trail; visitors are strongly advised to stay on the trail.

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