Pu’uloa Petroglyphs | Hawaii Volcanoes

We had no idea that there were petroglyphs in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. So, we were pleasantly surprised to find a short hike that led to literally thousands of them. These petroglyphs even have a special story that goes with them. The Pu’uloa Petroglyphs in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park are definitely worth the easy hike to see them.

The petroglyphs are so deeply carved into the rock.


According to the legend of the little brown shark, which you can read in park literature, Hawaiians are descendants of the earth. They climbed from the ground in this area. For generations, native people returned to this spot and drilled a small hole in the volcanic rock, symbolically connecting their umbilical cord (belly button) back to the land through the rock. There are something like thirty thousand of these holes in the rock. If tiny holes seem boring to you, though, there are plenty of other cool carvings in the rock as well.

You can see all of the small holes in the rock.

Trail Information

The trail starts way out near the end of the Chain of Craters Road. The trailhead is over thirty minutes from the Visitor Center, making it an ideal pairing with those who want to drive out to the Holei Sea Arch, which is just a few miles farther. 

There is a small parking area on both sides of the road, and the Pu’uloa Petroglyhs trail runs off to the east. It winds and climbs through the lava field for about 0.7 of a mile. This trail would be impossible for wheels, and in fact, footing is a bit unsure, so be careful. The trail is flat except for the gentle up and down of climbing up the frozen lava. There is no shade on this trail and the black rock can make the heat unbearable, so make sure to wear a hat and sunscreen.

The trail heads out into the lava. Watch for the cairns to guide you along the route.
The trail is marked mostly by flat rock, and cairns.


Eventually, you come to a boardwalk that forms a small loop. The petroglyphs are on both sides of the trail as you round the loop. They are etched more deeply into the rock than any petroglyph we’d seen before, so you can’t really mistake them or miss them. There are circles, targets, figures, and of course, thousands of holes, each representing an individual. The loop is small, but you can get pretty close to the Pu’uloa Petroglyphs. Just make sure to leave them as you found them.

Soon you come to the boardwalk.
There are just a few signs. We wish there were more.
There are holes everywhere, as well as different symbols.
There is a huge variety of shapes and pictures at the Pu’uloa Petroglyphs.
The boardwalk is one big loop.
After you complete the loop, head back to your car.

We spent one afternoon exploring Hawaii Volcanoes National Park so that we can share with you all of the family-friendly things to do there. Check out our guide for more information.

Leave a Reply