Historic Places of Hawaii’s Big Island
Hawaii’s Big Island is home to some of the most historic places in all of Hawaii. From the birthplace of King Kamehameha and the paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) to restored heiau and the site of Captain Cook’s death, the Big Island offers visitors a chance to walk in the shadows of Hawaiian history.
Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park
This 72-hectare National Park in south Kona was once a place of refuge for lawbreakers in early Hawaii. It features royal grounds, heiau (temples), Hawaiian fishponds and the Great Wall, which is 3 metres high and 5 metres thick. This is a fantastic place to learn about early Hawaiian culture.
Mookini Heiau State Monument, King Kamehameha's Birth Site
One of the most sacred spots on the island, this 1,500-year-old heiau (temple) in beautiful North Kohala was once a temple of human sacrifice. Within walking distance is a site that marks the birthplace of King Kamehameha, Hawaii’s greatest king. While you’re here, take a short drive to Kapaau to view the original King Kamehameha Statue.
Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site
Part of the National Park System, this historic site is home to one of the largest and last heiau (temples) built in Hawaii. Located on the Kohala Coast, King Kamehameha ordered the building of this massive structure to gain favour with Ku, the war god, in his quest to unite the Hawaiian Islands.
Historic Kailua Village (Kailua-Kona)
This lively spot in the centre of the Kona Coast is also a place of great historical significance. Visit Hulihee Palace, summer home for Hawaiian royalty; Mokuaikaua Church, Hawaii’s earliest Christian Church built in 1820; and Ahuena Heiau, built by King Kamehameha I, all within view of each other on Alii Drive.
The lands of Keauhou hold a wealth of historical sites including three restored heiau (temples), the Kuamoo Battle and Lekeleke Burial grounds, a holua slide (stone ramp) and the birthplace of Kamehameha III.
Located 19 kilometres south of Kailua-Kona, Kealakekua Bay is a Marine Life Conservation District and was where British explorer Captain James Cook first stepped foot on Hawaii’s Big Island. Just a year later in 1779, Cook was killed here at Kealakekua Bay in a skirmish with Native Hawaiians. A white obelisk on the shore of Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park memorialises his death.
The cool, green pastures of Waimea are home to ranches and paniolo (Hawaiian cowboys). Go on a horseback ride and explore the fascinating history of how cowboys in the early 1800s came to Waimea.