Ancient Sites of Hawaii: A Guide to Hawaiian Archaeological and Cultural Places on the Big Island

Ancient Sites of Hawaii: A Guide to Hawaiian Archaeological and Cultural Places on the Big Island


Author: Van James | Hardcover

This guidebook put the accessible ancient sites of Hawai‘i Island within the grasp of the general public for the first time in the mid-1990s. Now an entirely revised and updated, full color edition of the book includes 20 additional sites, and expanded site descriptions. 

Although many remnants of ancient Hawai‘i are accessible, often they are hidden, and few resources provide comprehensive interpretive information. In this informative and easy-to-follow book, three-time Ka Palapala Po‘okela award winning author Van James highlights the features, legends, and archaeology of 50 Big Island sites. Each site description includes one or more photographs, directions, and a map for easy location. While the book is organized for touring the island’s sites region by region, cross-referenced lists make it easy to develop alternatives according to personal interest.

A preface by kupuna Danny Akaka and an introduction by the late Hawaiian authority Edward L. H. Kanahele give the reader an understanding of the intimate connection Hawaiians feel to the land and its features. They describe the concept of wahi pana, sacred places of Hawai‘i that are imbued with spiritual significance as well as natural beauty. 

Further context for the site descriptions is given by Van James in chapters describing aspects of Hawaiian culture and five main types of sites: heiau (temples), pöhaku (sacred stones), petroglyphs, caves, and fishponds. Tips on selected sites for visitors and cultural collections are also included. Sections on site preservation, Hawaiian pronunciation (David “Kawika” L. Eyre), and a glossary of Hawaiian terms round out the volume. A must for visitors and kama‘äina alike, this book provides an introduction to cultural treasures little known or understood.

Site Locations

  1. Hilo
  2. Puna
  3. Ka‘u
  4. Kona
  5. Kohala
  6. Hamakua