1871 Trail at Pu'uhonua o Honaunau
Within the Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Park is an historic trail that contours the rugged coastline of stark black lava rock. Named the "1871 Trail" due to the work done on the traditional coastal hiking trail to make it accessible to pack mules back in the year 1871. The hike accesses a lava tube, remnants of coastal fishing villages and small tide pools that are teeming with marine life.
Highlights: Ocean views are the backdrop for white sands, stark black lava rocks, and swaying coconuts along this ancient coastal trail and trade route.
Location: Honounou, Hawaii (South of Kona)
Distance: 0.8 mile one-way to distant fishing village site at end of trail.
Hours for access: Park opens at 7 AM and closes 15 minutes after Sunset, restrooms at visitor center.
Hazards!: This coastal hike crosses lots of lava rock areas where closed-toed sturdy shoes are recommended. Stay away from oceans edge during periods of surf, and swimming access here is not recommended, as it is unsafe.
For current park hours or trail conditions, please call the park at 808-328-2326
Fees: $5 admission per vehicle, good for 7 days
The "1871 trail" originated as a trade route between fishing villages along the coastline in this region. The climate is dry along this coastline, think desert with some small shade oasis along the way.
Where to start:
After entering the park, drive past the Visitor Center and turn right onto the gravel road. Two trail access parking areas will follow; one in 100 yards on the left, the other is at the end of this gravel road as it reaches the coastal coconut grove.
The terrain is more sand and rock with none of the mud or jungle, which is usually associated with Hawaii hiking. The coconut groves, Noni bushes, and shrubs call Naupaka create some small shade for rest stops along the way, but plan for sun and bring a shade hat, plenty of water and sunscreen if attempting this hike during the mid-day especially.
Along the trail several highlights include the Alahaka Ramp, the Waiu o Hina Lava Tube, and the Ki'ilae Village. The ramp was created to help pack animals used to supply the region to better navigate the change of elevation. About halfway up the ramp you will see the entrance to the lava tube, if planning to explore inside it is best to bring a flashlight as it gets dark inside this cave. Also watch your head and exposed extremities as the walls of the cave are jagged lava rock. The lava tube ends with a window toward the ocean and a view back across the bay of the park.
The trail continues to the Ki'ilae Village, which is believed to have originated in the late 1700's and was inhabited to through the transition times of the Hawaiian culture, eventually abandoned as the remote location had resource issues with water, and accessibility.
If you want to swim after your hike: A small road adjacent to the park entrance leads to an excellent ocean access known as "2 step". You might plan to explore this swim area after your visit to the hike.
From Kona: Head south on HI-route 11. Just after 104-mile marker and the "S" curve look for sign for "Pu'uhonua o Honaunau" and turn right onto HI-route 160. Follow road downhill for 3 miles and look for park entrance on the left. Go slow near the parks entrance as it is a popular swim spot. Once you have entered the park, drive up to the visitors center and either park here (closest to the restrooms) or there is a gravel and sand road to the left of the Visitor Center that leads to ta further portion of the park where there are oceanfront picnic tables and access to a coastal trail at end of picnic area.