Hawaii Guide


Hawaii's Luahiwa Petroglyphs

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Hawaii Petroglyphs do not come any better than the ones that are located on the island of Lanai. These portals into the past can be found near the centre of the island near the grassy Palawai Basin. The site of these ancient rock drawings and carvings was once a Mormon colony, and to date over 450 inscriptions have been found, scattered over 34 separate rock formations.

The Petroglyphs themselves are composed of both historic and ancient styles. The earliest inhabitants if Lanai arrived on the island during the course of the 15th century. It is thought that the rock drawings were the result of these first settlers.

The Luahiwa Petroglyphs are undoubtedly some of the finest, well preserved and enticing of all the sites uncovered on the Hawaiian Islands. So what do these old writings mean exactly? Well the petroglyphs themselves depict figures of men and woman, as well as animals such as deer, turtles and livestock. There are even early inscriptions that are thought to depict people surfing. Historians believe that at the time "surfing" was a pastime that was solely reserved for royalty. They are thought by some to hold the spiritual power of the ancient rain gods Ku and Hina.

How were the drawings made? Well the Hawaii Petroglyphs were made by beating a pointed rock with a duller one, so in essence creating a hammer and chisel effect to carve out the figures. In parts of the island which are susceptible to heavier bouts of rainfall the inscriptions have faded and been gradually washed away.

The arid and dry climate round the Palawai Basin has resulted in this Pertoglyph find being one of the most well preserved. Visitors might find the trek up to the site quite difficult and tiring, but for the historically minded the effort in the end is well worth it. Please remember these ancient writings are fragile and should not be touched, defaced or rubbed in any way. Many more visitors will travel the seas to view these amazing historical artifacts.

Other petroglyphs can be found by a lighthouse ruin on the famous Shipwreck Beach.