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Ancient Hawaiian Fish Ponds

Like their Polynesian forebears, Hawaiians were among the first aquaculturists on the planet. Scientists still marvel at the ways they used the brackish ponds along the shoreline to stock and harvest fish. There are actually two different types of ancient fish ponds (or loko i'a). Closed ponds, located inshore, were closed off from the ocean. Open ponds used rock walls as a barrier to the ocean and sluice gates that connected the ponds to the ocean. The gates were woven vines, with just enough room for juvenile fish to swim in at high tide while keeping the bigger, fatter fish from swimming out. Generally, the Hawaiians kept and raised mullet, milkfish, and shrimp in these open ponds; juvenile manini, papio, eels, and barracuda occasionally found their way in, too.

The Kalahuipuaa Fish Ponds, at Mauna Lani Resort (tel. 808/885-6622), are great examples of both types of ponds in a lush tropical setting. South of the Mauna Lani Resort are Kuualii and Kahapapa Fish Ponds, at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort (tel. 808/885-6789). Both resorts have taken great pains to restore the ponds to their original states and to preserve them for future generations; call ahead to arrange a free guided tour.

Kohala Coast Petroglyphs

The Hawaiian petroglyphs are a great enigma of the Pacific -- no one knows who made them or why. They appear at 135 different sites on six inhabited islands, but most of them are found on the Big Island.

At first glance, the huge slate of pahoehoe looks like any other smooth black slate of lava on the seacoast of the Big Island -- until gradually, in slanting rays of the sun, a wonderful cast of characters leaps to life before your eyes. You might see dancers and paddlers, fishermen and chiefs, hundreds of marchers all in a row. Pictures of the tools of daily life are everywhere: fish hooks, spears, poi pounders, canoes. The most common representations are family groups. There are also post-European contact petroglyphs of ships, anchors, horses, and guns.

The largest concentration of these stone symbols in the Pacific lies within the 233-acre Puako Petroglyph Archaeological District, near Mauna Lani Resort. A total of 3,000 designs have been identified. The 1.5-mile Malama Trail starts north of Mauna Lani Resort; take Hwy. 19 to the resort turnoff and drive toward the coast on North Kaniku Drive, which ends at a parking lot; the trail head is marked by a sign and interpretive kiosk. Go in the early morning or late afternoon, when it's cool.

The Kings' Shops (tel. 808/886-8811), at the Waikoloa Beach Resort, offers a free 1-hour tour of the surrounding petroglyphs every Thursday through Sunday at 10:30am. Just show up at the stage in the center of the shopping center by 10:30am.

Warning: The petroglyphs are thousands of years old and easily destroyed. Do not walk on them or attempt to take a rubbing (there's a special area in the Puako Preserve for doing so). The best way to capture a petroglyph is with a photo in the late afternoon, when the shadows are long.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.