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Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, Hawaii Island

 

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Quick Facts

  • Name: Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park
     
  • What: National Historic Park, place of refuge, royal grounds
     
  • Where: South of Kealakekua Bay
     
  • More Info: http://www.nps.gov/puho

Kona

Located on the coast of Honaunau Bay in south Kona, Puuhonua o Honaunau immerses you in Hawaiian culture. This 180-acre national historic park was once the home of royal grounds and a place of refuge for ancient Hawaiian lawbreakers.

Kapu, or sacred laws, were of utmost importance to Hawaiian culture and the breaking of kapu could mean death. A kapu-breaker's only chance for survival was to evade his pursuers and make it to a puuhonua, or a sacred place of refuge. Once there, a ceremony of absolution would take place and the law-breaker would be able to return to society.

Hundreds of years old yet beautifully restored, Puuhonua o Honaunau remains one of Hawaii's most sacred historic places. Follow the park and map and take a self-guided walking tour and explore the grounds including the Great Wall, standing 10-feet high and 17-feet thick. Fierce kii, or wooden images of gods, guard the Hale o Keawe Heiau, a sacred temple that housed the bones of 23 alii (chiefs). A black lava rock shoreline hindered kapu-breakers from approaching by sea.

Beyond the puuhonua, explore the nearby Royal Grounds, which were the sacred home of alii. See Keoneele Cove, the royal canoe landing; the Keoua Stone, the favorite resting place of the high chief of Kona, Keaoua; as well as halau (thatched work house), fishponds and a heiau (sacred temple) that is one of the oldest structures in the park. Beautiful at sunset, this sacred place gives visitors an important glimpse into early Hawaiian culture.