History of the Holua Slide

In Hawaiian, the word “holualoa” means “long slide.” And here in the village of Holualoa, the origin of the name comes from an actual holua slide that traverses downslope through the area, passing thorough our property at Holualoa Inn.

Well-preserved slide in Keauhou

Constructed by Hawaiians of yesteryear, holua slides were the equivalent of a toboggan course, some stretching more than 4,000 feet in length from mountain to the sea. Reserved for royalty, the sport of holua sledding was extremely dangerous. To make the lava-rock course extra slick, Hawaiians covered the slide with dirt, thatched mats and wet pili grass.

The sled itself, called “papa holua,” was made of naive hardwoods like kauila, uhiuhi or mamane. The crosspieces, runners and rails were affixed with sennit cord fashioned out of coconut fiber. The rails were wrapped in kapa cloth, while the frame was covered in lauhala matting.

Guests of Holualoa Inn can walk our historic grounds, where the remnants of an ancient holua slide can be seen in our botanical gardens. Our 30-acre coffee estate also features an historic coffee trail that passes alongside the Inn. When you stay at our Hawai‘i Big Island bed and breakfast, you’ll surely feel the spirit of ancient Hawai‘i and the ali‘i (royalty) who once traveled at breakneck speed down the steep and thrilling holua slides.

Innkeeper Holualoa Inn