Category Archives: Travel Classes

2017 Archaeology of Kauai: Travel Archaeology Part II

The first half of this travel archaeology class focused upon Big Island sites. When tides were too high to document petroglyphs and other shoreline features, inland sites were visited.  Discussions about political allegiances and trade with foreigners, at the interisland and international levels, figured prominently.  The importance of this southernmost island was highlighted, with in depth discussions of Captain Cook, King Kamehameha, and other history making individuals.

The second part of the adventure began the next month.  At that time, we visited the northern island of Kauai. Here, we concentrated on two areas of history.  One was the geopolitical separation between Kauai and the other islands, and the other was the significance of a Russian presence on Kauai.  This included our exploring the remains of a Russian Fort, now being restored, and which overlooks Cook’s landing area. We also visited the ponds where salt is still collected.  As salt was a necessary commodity during the fur trade, the economics of its production and the positioning of the Sandwich Islands were discussed.  The story of how Cook’s records got into Russian hands, and the subsequent alliance between Kauai’s King Kaumuali’i and the Russians was explored.

Site stewards invited our group to tour the inside of the fort area, including the steps leading to a view of Cook’s early landing area. The star shaped fort walls are slowly being exposed by local volunteer groups who are removing the intrusive vegetation.
Within the walls of the fort are the remains of rock lined paths, that lead to officer’s quarters and other areas.


Salt ponds that supplied people in prehistory also were utilized as an exchange commodity during the fur trade. When not being worked, the salt ponds appear as vast, shallow lakes.
Taro fields are viewed from above, showing the different growing environments and staggered planting areas.
A deep cavern that opens into several small caves was also visited. Within the recesses of the cave are rock art images. Since our visit several years ago, sand from storms has coated the cavern floor.
Elevation is helpful in identifying some previous use areas, although distinguishing prehistoric from historic areas can be challenging.
The trip ended with a birthday dinner celebration for one of the participants. Planning also began for the next travel archaeology class.

Documenting Prehistoric Sites Along Hawaii’s Shoreline

Hawaii is known to have cultural sites from the shoreline to the mountain peaks.  These include ancient village remains, ceremonial structures, water catchment areas, petroglyphs, and fish traps. But many resources along the shoreline are not yet recorded, and this is especially true of petroglyphs and other rock features.

Many sites near the ocean provide some sort of catchment. Sometimes salt is desired, and sometimes fish or turtles are the focus. Water is often trapped in depressions for salt, or in stacked rock enclosures for marine animals.
Many different forces, from land movement to invasive grasses, put rock art images at risk. The abrasion of sand, too, can erode the images.

These cultural features need to be located by GPS, and documented by photographs.  Because many of these cultural resources are fragile, they need to be identified without putting them at risk.  A professional archaeologist will lead this group effort, and also provide information about inland sites.  Oregon Archaeological Society members, with their training and sensitivity to archaeological sites, are the perfect project volunteers for this project.  The results of all shoreline documentation will be given to the Department of Land and Natural Resources, and to the State Historic Preservation Office.

Shoreline resources include ceremonial sites, aquaculture ponds, and canoe access areas.

Participants will be introduced to a variety of archaeological sites, when not documenting shoreline observations.  We plan to visit a partially reconstructed village, aquaculture sites with three different types of aquatic environments, ceremonial sites, and at least one historic site.


This adventure in Hawaii will occur February 16-21, 2017, and is offered through the Institute for Archaeological Studies.  For travel details, please contact Deanna Levinson of World Travel, , or phone 971-404-0338.  The estimated cost for shared hotel, rental car, and airfare is $1,825.00.  Travel miles may be used to offset the cost of the flight.


FEB.19-23, 2016

One of the most popular IAS travel adventures takes people to archaeological sites in the Hawaii Islands. In 2016, we will again escort a very small group to Oahu and then the Big Island (Hawaii Island), to share with them many of the archaeological resources of Hawaii. Each morning we will visit sites, then have the afternoons free to relax or go exploring apart from the group. We will meet again in the evenings to discuss the day’s events, and plan for the next morning’s outings, while enjoying a nice meal. We are limiting the trip to a maximum of 8 participants. There is so much to see and to do that part of our goal is to customize this journey so that the interests of everyone involved are addressed.


The trip is priced to include roundtrip airfare, including interisland travel, transfers, rental cars (one for every two people), hotel room (two people per room), all entrance fees, daily tours and discussions lead by archaeologists, and travel insurance. Although airline prices continually change, our expected package price is $1,795.00 per person. This amount can be reduced by using your airline miles instead of a purchased ticket! Enrollment begins in early September, but the contact form on this website can be used to sign-up before that time.


This adventure could have multiple titles. These include the Archaeological Sites Many People Miss, Touring Archaeological Sites While on Vacation, an Introduction to the Prehistory and Early History of Hawaii, and How Hawaiian Archaeology Fits into the World of Archaeology.




MAY 8-11 2015

In planning for our visit in 2016, the people who help guide our Travel Archaeology program met on the Big Island in early May. The goal was to identify new sites, add to the types of sites we include in the trip, and to look at what access options might be available for people with physical challenges. Happily, all this was accomplished, guaranteeing an exciting journey into Hawaiian archaeology in 2016! In all, we located newly exposed features, observed expanded site boundaries, and learned about some upcoming interpretive programs that should hold everyone’s interest. Please see our posting for the Hawaii class of 2016. We will limit the class size to 8 people, so the things you are interested in will not be missed!

Archaeology on Two Hawaiian Islands

Every year, IAS takes people on travel adventures to visit archaeological sites that are far away. One program takes people to Hawaii, and in 2015, we again partnered with Portland Community College to offer an adventure through their Community Education program. Below are images of some of the sites we visited, on the islands of Oahu and Hawai’i Island. Another opportunity will be next February, with sign-ups beginning in early September. Use the contact form on this website to enroll early.

PCC Hawaii 2014

In 2014, IAS journeyed to the Big Island of Hawaii.  With our site choices custom selected for our class participants, everyone was guaranteed a great time!  We visited rock art sites, fish trap areas, restored and unrestored aquaculture sites, ancient villages, and even learned frond weaving from a Native Hawaiian woman.  We even managed to get in some fabulous meals and great snorkeling.  A few pictures, below, tell the story.

PCC Archaeology of an Hawaiian Island 2013

This year’s PCC travel class changed from two islands to one.  The focus was upon aquaculture, and the multiple ways in which Hawaiians sustained themselves  and their leaders in ancient times.  The first adventure was to find the  four aquaculture “ponds” that were documented historically, and then to interpret their use.  This was followed by visits to other  archaeological areas, including abandoned villages and petroglyph sites that  aren’t discussed in the usual literature.  Afternoons were free time, which included everything from paddle boarding to relaxing under a palm tree. 

The Archaeology of Hawaii Oahu and the Big Island


The real history of old Hawaii awaits all visitors.  Our group walked a short ways on the King’s trail, and journeyed to a bay with ancient fishponds and fish traps, from a site once used by royalty. We watched for ancient petroglyphs and migrating humpback whales, then cooled off with a relaxing afternoon snorkeling. 


We also visited an ongoing research and restoration project, where native plant and bird species and archaeological sites are now being studied for their relationship to the Hawaiian culture. We respectfully walked the battlefield where the fate of  Hawaii’s religion was settled and where stone coffins still give mute testimony to the pain of this clash. We also experienced a 600 year old village where Kahunas still come to train. 

Learn the true history of Hawaii based on recent archaeological findings, and then hear the version the tourists are told.  Dr. Alison Stenger of the Institute for Archaeological Studies will be the trip leader. Each trip is custom designed for your special interests.  This opportunity is being offered by IAS, through Portland Community College.  Trip includes round trip airfare from Portland, all hotel accommodations, all transfers during the trip, shared rental car on Hawaii, park fees, and much more.  Travel dates were Feb. 20-25, 2012, and will be a similar time in 2013.  (Ask about possible discount for two booking together.)  If you have questions, or want to sign up, please contact us! 

PCC Kauai

The Institute for Archaeological Studies introduces people to archaeological sites each year.  The site in the summer of 2011 was in Woodburn. Before that, in the winter of 2011, we traveled to the island of Kauai.Some images, below, are a glimpse of that island trip.

Please contact us, or Gary Palmer at Portland Community College, for more information on the Kauai adventure for next year –

Travel dates will be in early March of 2012, and will probably include two islands.  Deanna is our travel person –

Steps leading away from the Russian Fort can be explored. On the RIGHT, a Royal birthplace can be visited.

A visit to a village site, and then to enjoy a snorkeling beach, is a great way to end a day’s excursion. Prehistoric and historic sites often overlap.

The past can tell us so much. The information contained on grave markers can tell of longevity, disease, and some family histories. 

Walk with an archaeologist through the past, and visit paradise at the same time!

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Yet, even before the tours start, Kauai’s cultural past will wrap around you… starting with displays at the airport! Take a moment to enjoy the items on display, and read the signage, before proceeding to collect your luggage. This, alone, can help to put you on “island time”.

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Upland sites are difficult to detect on Kaua’i, due to the amount of vegetation that generally obscures them. However, this site has just been re-identified, and restoration has begun. The restoration process  will be ongoing for awhile, as the site is so very significant. Now, even signage is in place.