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Pets allowed
No
Guided tours
No
Backcountry camping
No
Lodging
No
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Lapakahi State Historical Park is easy to miss on the way up through North Kohala on Highway 270 to Hawi, but this is a fascinating place that is well worth an hour or two of exploration. The site was once the location of a village that thrived on fishing and farming, and it also became a principal hub for trade between the inland and coastal people and towns up and down the coast. Residents enjoyed the relative calm of the Koai’s Cove along with plentiful ocean life, and a stone path led inland to crops of taro and sweet potato.

Today the site is a superb window into the lives these villagers lived some 600 years ago. Visitors to the park can walk through the village in two loops that total just less than a mile. Brochures available at the entrance station allow for a self-guided tour of the 262-acre park. You’ll see the remains of several structures that served as residences and temples, not to mention the many boulders that have been carved out for salt harvesting or kōnane, a checkers-like game that was played with pieces of rock and coral. Each structure by itself is impressive enough, but the cumulative effect of seeing all of these ruins together is much larger. As is the case at the Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park or the nearby Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historical Site, walking among the ruins and reading about both the unique rituals and the daily lives of the Hawaiians hundreds of years ago is visceral, evocative, and memorable.

In addition to the state historical park, 146 acres of the sea just offshore is also recognized as a marine life conservation district, a designation that helps maintain the population of sea life that originally attracted. Corals, a big shore break, and strong currents make this a less than desirable spot for swimming, however.

Park hours are from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and there are no entries allowed after 3:30 p.m. This area is quite exposed, so it pays to explore the site in the morning or on a day when clouds or a breeze offer some respite from the sun. Also, it should go without saying that none of the ruins or artifacts here should be touched: Aside from a risk of injury from dislodged boulders, this area is profoundly culturally significant and deserves respect from its visitors.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

General Day Use Fee

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Culturally rich. Fascinating history. Short, family-friendly walk. Great views.

Cons

Exposed to sun. Some trail sections are uneven.

Address

HI-270
Waimea, HI 96743
United States

Features

Geologically significant
Historically significant
Whale watching
Wildlife
Family friendly
Vault toilet
Big vistas
Native artifacts

Location

Field Guide

Comments

Pretty good snorkeling once you make it in the water. Not a sandy beach, rocky and coral bits. Go on a calm ocean day.
05/13/2018
While there is no "swimming" in the cove, the park does allow for snorkeling. The coral here is minimal, but you can expect to lose count of the different species of fish you'll spot. Along the shoreline are also some excellent tide pools, where you can see eels, starfish, pencil urchins, and other tide pool critters. Each time I come here with my children, they find at least one eel in the tide pools. I also recommend this park over any other for whale watching in the winter, as there is a lookout that offers unobstructed views of the ocean.
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