When you are driving through the big resort and residential areas along the Kohala coast, it's easy to forget that tough and resourceful Hawaiians were able to carve out a home in such a difficult environment. The contrast between the verdant landscaping, roads, and structures that accompany these developments and the jagged lava that surrounds them couldn't be more stark. Kalahuipua'a Historic Park is a great example of this juxtaposition. It is an island of historic and cultural significance surrounded by a sea of development known as the Mauna Lani, which includes a hotel, several residential areas, a golf club, shops...you get the idea.
The Kalahuipua'a Trail is a narrow interpretive trail with small signs spaced out at intervals that point out interesting evidence of early habitation in the area. The highlight is a large cave that was inhabited off and on for 200 years between 1500 and 1700: Standing in this cave, it's easy to imagine different areas being used for different purposes, and a hole in the cave near the back even provides a bit of light and air circulation.
Take the trail beyond the Kalahuipua'a Historic Park and you'll encounter the Kalahuipua'a Fishponds. These are fed by natural freshwater springs and sea water, creating a brackish environment that Hawaiians used to raise fish for harvesting. These ponds are still managed in the traditional fashion; fish enter through gates and swim down channels to the ponds, where a second set of gates are closed so the fish remain. This area includes several beautiful ponds, the largest of which is Lahuipua'a Fishpond. Stroll around and watch for leaping fish and birds on the hunt. A path even leads along the long retaining wall that forms the ocean-facing aspect of Lahuipua'a Fishpond.
Approximately three-quarters of a mile from parking area you'll see all of the paths converge and end near Makaiwa Beach, a small pocket beach that is predominantly used by guests and residents of the resort. While there may not be a lot going on at this beach, it is a very protected area that is a good choice for families, and the walk to the beach through the Kalahuipua'a Historic Park and Kalahuipua'a Fishponds adds an interesting cultural aspect to the trip.