A multigenerational vacation in Hawaii – sounds complicated, doesn’t it? After all, you’ve got a big disparity in ages, with the different travel needs and wants that go with that. Well, my parents joined us on the first leg of our Christmas in Hawaii, and it proved to be more than easily manageable: In fact, it provided grandparents and grandchildren alike with truly memorable, bonding experiences. There was a great snorkel trip, there was fun relaxation by the Waikoloa Marriott’s impressive pool, and good times dining out. But the family travel experience that was possibly the most memorable and bonding was one that was simple and free: A stroll among the Big Island’s Waikoloa Petroglyph Field.
Petroglyphs are symbols, of course – figures and designs carved into the hardened lava that marks so much of the Big Island’s landscape. There are more than 70 discovered petroglyph sites on the Big Island of Hawaii, containing over 22,000 carvings. The Waikoloa Petroglyph Field in Waikoloa Village is easily accessible, although the lava rock is hard and sharp – sturdy shoes are a good idea. It’s really very interesting to wander among the ancient carvings. There are figures of men, figures of women, turtles, and various curious shapes such as circles within circles, long rectangles, and small, deep holes: These last are piko holes, wherein the umbilical cord of a new baby would be placed in the holes. A rock would cover the piko hole, and if the umbilical cord was there in the morning, the child would be thought of as having a long life.
Much of the meaning of the other petroglyph symbols has been lost to the ages. However, we know that they are a way of passing information from one generation to the next. This child, born to this woman. This man, traveling on this boat. They tell stories, and due to the immutable nature of the stone fields, the stories are timeless.
It is quiet on the Waikoloa Petroglyph Field in Hawaii. It’s far from traffic, and few birds called out. It feels as it always has felt there, even centuries ago when Polynesians landed on Hawaii and started carving their history on the islands. Walking among the petroglyphs, seeing my parents and children both thoughtfully examining the curious shapes on the ground, brought tears to my eyes. What are the stories we will pass down to our descendants? Which of our stories will be timeless? Hearing the wind pass my ears, I wonder. The only sure thing for now, will be that the memory of this Hawaii vacation with my parents and children will be etched into my memory, like stone.