Explore Geology
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National Historical Park


cover of park brochure

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the beach at Kaloko-Honokohau
Kaloko-Honokohau National Monument, Hawaii

Kaloko-Honokahau National Historical Park was established by Congress on November 10, 1978. The purpose of the park is to preserve, interpret, and perpetuate traditional native Hawaiian activities and culture, and to demonstrate historic land use patterns.

Park Resources
Kaloko-Honokohau is situated along the Kona coast of the island of Hawaii in an area of barren and rugged lava, much sunshine, and warm temperatures. At first glance the landscape appears unsuitable for human habitation and yet, long ago, the Hawaiian people built a thriving settlement here. This settlement was to last for hundreds of years, until well into the 19th century when Western culture brought an end to the Hawaiian way of life. The national significance of the Hawaiian cultural remains found here was recognized in 1962 when the Honokohau Settlement was declared a national historic landmark. In 1966, the landmark was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The most impressive evidence of Hawaiian settlement here is the man-made Kaloko and 'Aimakapafishponds and the 'Ai'opio fishtrap. Kaloko fish pond, with its massive man-made seawall, provides an excellent example of the engineering skill of the ancient Hawaiians. There are also several heiau (Hawaiian temples) located in the park. The most prominent are Makaopi'o and Pu'uoina. Here also is an example of a holua, stone slides built for the recreation of Hawaiian royalty, the ali'l.

A park resource with much historical significance is the Mamalahoa Trail, built between 1836 and 1855 and also known as the King's Highway. The nearly one mile segment in the park is a small portion of the trail that once extended around much of the island of Hawaii.

Kaloko-Honokohau contains many Hawaiian grave sites. These are sacred grounds; the ancient Hawaiians believed that their deceased ancestors returned in the form of an 'aumakua, or family god, to guide the living members of the family. The park contains many other sites of significance to Hawaiians, including house platforms, fishing shrines, canoe landings, and petroglyphs (ancient rock carvings). To date, more than 200 archeological sites have been recorded in the park and 200 more have been noted. But, more important for Hawaiians, Kaloko-Honokohau represents a place where their ancestors once lived, died, and are buried, and is therefore invaluable to their heritage.

The fishponds of Kaloko-Honokohau are also important because they are home to many kinds of waterbirds. Of major significance are the ae'o, the Hawaiian black-necked stilt, the 'alae ke'oke'o, the Hawaiian coot, and the koloa, the Hawaiian duck. The coot and the duck are endemic to Hawaii -- that is, they are found nowhere else. All three waterbirds are officially listed as endangered species and protected under Federal law.

Within the past decade Kaloko fishpond has been invaded by the non-native plant, red mangrove. The spread of this alien plant has resulted in the fishpond no longer being suitable habitat for waterbirds, including the three endangered species. The National Park Service is in the process of removing the mangrove in and around Kaloko to restore this scarce wetland habitat and prevent the plant from spreading to other parts of the park. Other important park resources consist of many small freshwater to brackish ponds and pools. Called anchialine ponds, each has its own extraordinary biota, including endemic invertebrate species.

The park also contains the offshore waters of Honokohau Bay. The marine life here is particularly abundant because of the presence of a shallow inshore area -- an unusual situation in west Hawaii. Reefs and shallows provided food sources which historically supplemented inland agricultural produce and established a balanced diet for ancient Hawaiians.

Visitor Information
This new national park is not yet fully operational--development is lacking and the National Park Service has not completed the purchase of all privately owned lands within park boundaries. All lands in Federal ownership are open to the public. Consult with park rangers to avoid trespassing onto private lands or inadvertently violating Hawaiian sacred sites. Visitor facilities or drinking water are not yet available at the park, but a park ranger is on duty daily. No picnicking or overnight camping is allowed. Guided tours of portions of the park are possible when arrangements are made in advance.

Visitor information is available at the park's office located on the mauka (inland) side of the highway in the Kaloko Industrial Park across from the national park. Office hours are from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

park maps subheading

The General park map handed out at the visitor center is available on the park's map webpage.

For information about topographic maps, geologic maps, and geologic data sets, please see the geologic maps page.

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For information on other photo collections featuring National Park geology, please see the Image Sources page.

books, videos, cds subheading

Currently, we do not have a listing for a park-specific geoscience book. The park's geology may be described in regional or state geology texts.

Please visit the Geology Books and Media webpage for additional sources such as text books, theme books, CD ROMs, and technical reports.

Parks and Plates: The Geology of Our National Parks, Monuments & Seashores.
Lillie, Robert J., 2005.
W.W. Norton and Company.
ISBN 0-393-92407-6
9" x 10.75", paperback, 550 pages, full color throughout

The spectacular geology in our national parks provides the answers to many questions about the Earth. The answers can be appreciated through plate tectonics, an exciting way to understand the ongoing natural processes that sculpt our landscape. Parks and Plates is a visual and scientific voyage of discovery!

Ordering from your National Park Cooperative Associations' bookstores helps to support programs in the parks. Please visit the bookstore locator for park books and much more.

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For information about permits that are required for conducting geologic research activities in National Parks, see the Permits Information page.

The NPS maintains a searchable data base of research needs that have been identified by parks.

A bibliography of geologic references is being prepared for each park through the Geologic Resources Evaluation Program (GRE). Please see the GRE website for more information and contacts.

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NPS Geology and Soils Partners

NRCS logoAssociation of American State Geologists
NRCS logoGeological Society of America
NRCS logoNatural Resource Conservation Service - Soils
USGS logo U.S. Geological Survey

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Currently, we do not have a listing for any park-specific geology education programs or activities.

For resources and information on teaching geology using National Park examples, see the Students & Teachers pages.
updated on 01/04/2005  I   http://www.nature.nps.gov/geology/parks/kaho/index.cfm   I  Email: Webmaster
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