Hawaii National Parks with Kids: Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park

Are you looking for kid-friendly Hawaii Big Island national parks? Keep scrolling to read my tips for exploring Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park with kids.
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Are you visiting the Big Island with your family?

There are so many fun things to do in Hawaii, but did you know there are also some amazing national parks on the Big Island?

The Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park is a great place for kids and families. It’s one of the best national parks for kids!

You can explore ancient Hawaiian fishing ponds, see a pier, and even spot some green sea turtles.

Plus it is just minutes from Kona airport! If you’re looking for an easy half-day trip that will give everyone something fun to do, this is it.

And if you visit with kids, they can get a Junior Ranger booklet to complete and turn in for a badge!

So what are you waiting for? Let’s go exploring!

Hawaii National Parks with Kids FAQs

How many national parks are in Hawaii?

There are 6 national parks in Hawaii: Haleakala National Park on Maui; Kalaupapa National Historical Park on Molokai; and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Kaloko-Honokohau National Historic Park, Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, and Pu’ukohala Heiau National Historical Park on the Big Island.

What are the best Kona parks worth a stop?

There are lots of cool beach parks in Kona. I recommend the Old Kona Airport Beach if you’re looking for amazing sunsets and lots of room to spread out. There’s also Magic Sands Beach Park that is a great place to hang out for the day.

Which Hawaiian Islands have national parks?

The Big Island is home to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and several national historical parks. Maui has Haleakala National Park. And Molokai has the Kalaupapa National Historical Park.

Hawaii Big Island National Parks

There are several Hawaii national parks on the Big Island of Hawaii. You can find my full list of national parks in Hawaii HERE.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

The most famous Big Island national park is Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. This is where you can often see lava in Hawaii, as long as the volcano is erupting. You can also explore lava tubes, see a’a’ and pahoehoe lava rocks, and so much more.

If you go, I recommend booking a night or two at the historic Volcano House hotel.

Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park

This is another really cool Big Island park celebrating Hawaiian history and culture. Here, you can walk around the Place of Refuge to see tiki statues, Hawaiian structures, and explore the lava rocks.

It’s also right next to Two-Step Beach, a popular snorkeling spot. So, it’s easy to make this a full-day adventure. Read my full guide to the Place of Refuge HERE.

Pu’ukohala Heiau National Historic Site

A heiau is an ancient Hawaiian sacred place. The Pu’ukohala Heiau National Historic Site is a symbol of the unification of the Hawaiian Islands under the rule of King Kamehameha.

Where is Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park?

Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park is located less than 10 minutes away from the Kona Airport on the Big Island of Hawaii. The address is 73-4786 Kanalani St. #14 Kailua-Kona, HI 96740.

Image of the visitor's center at Kaloko-Honokohau National Hstorical Park in Kona Hawaii
Visitor Center at Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park in Kona. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

There are actually 3 locations to this park. You’ll want to head to the visitor’s center first. There are clear signs from Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway. From there, you can drive back out the the highway and turn left to go to the pier or right to go to the fishing ponds.

Why is Kaloko-Honokohau National Historic Park Important?

The focus of the Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park is all about fishing. The Kona Coast has a hot and dry climate and the people relied heavily on fishing as a way to survive.

In ancient Hawaii, land was divided into ahupua’a. These are pie-shaped slices of land that go from the mountains down to the sea. That way, families had access to all the natural resources they might need.

The Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park is a great way to see what the sea part of the ahupua’a looked like. Here, you can see fishing ponds, a canoe house, and even petroglyphs.

5 Reasons to Visit This Big Island National Park with Kids

1. Informative Walk

Your first stop should be the visitor’s center. This is where you can chat with park rangers and grab a map of the area.

Image of a boy holding a Junior Ranger booklet while looking at a sign about Hawaiian history and culture at Kaloko-Honokohau National Historic Park.
One of many signs near the visitor center. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Then, you’ll walk through the visitor’s center to get to an informative walk that ends at the parking lot. It’s a super short walk and there are informative signs along the way talking about Hawaiian culture and history.

If you’re participating in the Junior Ranger program, you’ll definitely need to answer some questions here.

2. Easy Hike to Beach

People with older kids can choose to do the 20 minute hike from the visitor’s center to the beach, however there’s a much easier way for families with little ones.

You can drive to the marina and take a 5-minute walk over volcanic rock and through a forest to get to the beach area. This is what I recommend doing with younger kids.

Image of a sandy path through the jungle in Kona to get to a Hawaiian fishing hut.

The short hike is pretty awesome because you’ll walk over volcanic rock, go through a little forest, and then end up on a sandy trail.

3. Canoe House

I admit this was my main reason for visiting this Hawaii national park. I’m a geek for cultural things and this looked way too cool to pass up.

Image of a boy running toward a large fishing hut on the beach at the Kaloko-Hanokohau National Historical Park in Kona Hawaii.
This was the main reason we visited Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

This is open for people to walk through and explore. It’s pretty interesting to take a look at how the structure was built and attached together.

4. Sea Turtles

This is an awesome Kona beach for spotting sea turtles. They really do just hang out near the shore. You’ll definitely want to keep lots of distance as it’s illegal to touch a sea turtle in Hawaii.

Image of a sign warning people to stay at least 20 feet away from the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles
Make sure to give sea turtles lots of space. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

So, if you go into the water to snorkel or just cool off, keep an eye out for sea turtles and keep your space. This is another reason why it’s so important to wear reef-safe sunscreen.

5. Junior Ranger Program

Like most U.S. national parks, you can participate in the Junior Ranger program at Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park.

Image of a park ranger handing a boy a Junior Ranger booklet for Kaloko-Hanokohau National Historical Park on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Getting the Junior Ranger booklet from the park ranger. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

The park ranger will walk you through the booklet and explain where to go in order to fill it all out. The Junior Ranger program is for kids ages 6 and older, but they also have an easier booklet for kids ages 5 and younger.

Tips for Visiting Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park

When to Go

The park can get really crowded between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. This is also when the temperature is the hottest. Instead, aim to go right at 8:30 a.m. when the park opens or in the early evening.

What to Wear

You’ll definitely want to wear shoes that can get wet. If you want to see more of the fishing ponds, you’ll need to walk through some water.

What to Pack

Because it can get so warm, make sure to pack lots of drinks for everyone. If you think you might want to stay at the beach for awhile, bring snacks, beach essentials, and sunscreen.

Download the National Parks App

A friend of mine suggested I download the National Parks App and it was super helpful at Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park.

National Park in Hawaii on the Big Island Wrap Up

I literally had to drag my son away from Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park and he asked to come back later in the day. He just really enjoyed the small beach area and the cool Hawaiian canoe house.

I highly recommend going first thing in the morning. It got a lot more crowded as we were leaving this Kona national park.

Looking for more things to do on the Big Island? Check out the best Big Island waterfalls, how to tour a macadamia nut factory, my guide to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and the Aloha Adventure Farms ATV Tour.