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Olowalu Petroglyphs

Situated near Wailuku on Maui, the Olowalu Petroglyphs are one of the best-kept secrets of the Hawaiian Emperor seamount chain. Even though they’re easily accessible by foot, the petroglyphs aren’t among the more well-trafficked attractions in Maui, making them a peaceful and intriguing pit stop for those seeking a reprieve from the maddening tourist crowds. Chiseled into the vertical surfaces of volcanic basalt cliffs, the petroglyphs provide a first-hand look into the lives of the indigenous peoples who first populated Maui. Here’s what you need to know about them:

What They Are

Petroglyphs are carvings on rocks created by prehistoric people. The Olowalu Petroglyphs include over 100 figures depicting a variety of animals, humans, and sails. Petroglyphs have deep cultural meanings and were often created in conjunction with traditional tribal ceremonies. Not to be confused with hieroglyphics, which were a precursor to early forms of writing, each petroglyph has its own unique and often culturally powerful meaning.

Where They Are

Otherwise known as Pu’u Kilea by Hawaiian natives, the Olowalu Petroglyphs are the easiest petroglyph site on Maui to access. The site is located a short drive from the community of Lahaina, and the trail begins at the side of Olowalu General Store. The dirt trail leading to them is approximately a quarter of a mile long and is accessible year-round. The trail is dog-friendly, although visitors are asked to clean up after their pets and to keep them on a leash. Visitors are also asked to remain on the path and to avoid touching the petroglyphs in order to help ensure their preservation. The Lahaina Restoration Foundation holds the lease on the site and has constructed a wooden stairway leading to a viewing platform.

Why You Should See Them

As mentioned previously, visiting this site involves a short, pleasant walk through abundant natural beauty ending with a look into the region’s prehistoric past. Although there are plenty of good reasons to visit Maui, few of them are as culturally significant as the Olowalu Petroglyphs.

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