• Jyothi Vummiti

Pu'u Loa Petroglyphs - Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Updated: Nov 21, 2018

Pu'u Loa Petroglyphs field lies within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii. It is the biggest petroglyphs site in Hawaii with more than 20,000 drawings etched on lava rocks across the field. The interesting shapes and designs essentially communicate the lives and culture of its creators.


Pu'u Loa Petroglyphs - Big Island, Hawaii


The petroglyphs trailhead is on Chain of Craters road within volcanoes national park. A 0.7 miles (1.4 miles roundtrip) trail travels through a 500 year old lava field. The trail is uneven but fairly easy for anyone to hike.


Trail to petroglyphs field


We started our hike just before sunset to escape the scorching mid-day heat. The surrounding landscape is old "pahoehoe" lava with different types of grass and other small plants growing through. Setting sun made the landscape magical and our hike more enjoyable. At the end of the trail we arrived at a raised boardwalk loop surrounded by petroglyphs. ​​


Raised boardwalk surrounded by petroglyphs

Trail from parking lot / Beautiful volcanic landscape


Pu'u Loa meant "hill of long life". Back in the day native Hawaiian fathers came to Pu'u Loa, dug up small holes in the lava rocks, placed their newborn's umbilical cord and covered them with another small rock. By doing this, they believed the spirits would bless their children with long and prosperous lives. There are many such small holes scattered across the field. Shapes of humans, animals, geometric designs and other patterns could also be seen.


Human drawings / Holes for umbilical cords

Ropey "pahoehoe" lava


Hiking on the trail was not boring by any means. The shapes of pahoehoe lava resembling twisted ropes and crumpled blankets were interesting and awesome to look at.



Gear Used: We used Fuji X-T1 camera with 18-55mm lens. As a secondary camera Fuji X-70. For videos, we simply used the iPhone.

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