Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park
On the island of Hawaii, in the southeastern Kona area, the Pu'uhonua O Honaunau ("place of refuge of Honaunau") offered sanctuary to those condemned to die by the island laws. Before the Hawaiian King Kamehameha abandoned these traditional religious practices, daily life in the islands was organized by a system of taboos, or "kapu." From not eating certain foods to not eating with certain people, the list of kapu was lengthy and complicated. Breaking kapu sometimes meant death in order to appease offended gods. Pu'uhonua O Honaunau was a finger of lava surrounded by the sea and separated from the island by a massive wall and royal compound, and refuge-seekers had to swim or canoe to safety. In this sanctuary, kahuna performed the rituals necessary for cleansing the offenders of their wrong-doings and reintroducing them into daily life. Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park preserves the temples and includes the lava beach. What to see and do: Between outdoor activities and touring the grounds of Pu'uhonua o Honaunau, you could spend a day here. Begin at the visitors center, open 8 AM to 5 PM daily, where you can see exhibits and get information for a self-guided tour. A 1,000-foot long mortarless lava stone wall separates the royal compound from the temple area. On the compound side, walk through reconstructions of a work shed and a canoe shed. At the canoe landing, you'll find traditional koa wood canoes and fishponds. On the temple side, don't miss the authentic-looking reconstructions of temple gods. From old drawings and records, local artists carved wood logs to resemble the original massive gods protecting the refuge. One temple has been reconstructed; two others are only stone platforms. Throughout Pu'uhonua o Honaunau, you may get a glimpse of living history demonstrations of traditional island life in the late 18th century, when King Kamehameha consolidated his power and before the European influence had overwhelmed Hawaiian culture. Take a few minutes to play konane, an ancient board game, and watch islanders in costume weave, carve, and engage in other traditional activities. After you've toured the two sections, explore the grounds. Take one of several trails along the lengthy beach and cliffs. Fish, swim, or snorkel in the warm waters, or picnic on the beach. If you leave the trails to wander among the coconut trees, beware of falling coconuts. Beach wheelchairs are available at the visitors center along with maps of accessible trails. Pu'uhonua o Honaunau is open daily from 7 AM until 8 PM. Fees and restrictions: An fee is charged for entrance to Pu'uhonua o Honaunau, good for seven days. Leashed pets are permitted with some restrictions.
- Honaunau, HI 96726
- 19.42371600, -155.91032400
- Visit Website
- (808) 328-2326