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In 1778, Captain Cook arrived on Kauai, opening the door to an influx of westerners. Only a year later, warriors at Kealakekua Bay killed Cook after a contentious chain of events. During this time of discovery, the island of Hawaii was divided into separate chiefdoms and war between factions was common. From 1790–1791, Kamehameha built the Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site in North Kohala as a tribute to the war god Kukailimoku, to help in his efforts to unite the Hawaiian Islands. This was the last major religious heiau (religious temple) built by early Hawaiians and the largest restored heiau in Hawaii. Soon after completion, the Kohala-born Kamehameha conquered the island of Hawaii and went on to unify the Hawaiian Kingdom.
Hawaii Island was also the home to King Kamehameha’s court until it moved to Oahu in 1804. In 1812, Kamehameha the Great returned to his beloved island of Hawaii, where he died in 1819. In 1820, the first missionaries arrived in Kailua-Kona. Other westerners followed, introducing cattle to the island. Sugar plantations also bloomed on the Hilo side in the 20th century.
Today, the island of Hawaii remains a vital touchstone for Hawaiian culture. Throughout its modernization, one ancient Hawaiian god is believed to be alive and well here. Pele, the volcano goddess, has settled in Kilauea Volcano at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park after moving south along the island chain. She continues to display her power today, keeping Kilauea in a constant state of eruption since 1983.
This Smithsonian-affiliated Lyman Museum tells the story of Hawaii’s islands and people. Exhibits trace Hawaii’s history from its volcanic origins and the flora and fauna that arrived before humans to life in ancient Hawaii and the immigrant groups that helped shape Hawaii’s unique culture of today
The 'Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii offers an immersive Hawaiian journey through time and space, with interactive exhibits, a leading-edge full-dome planetarium, award-winning landscape of native Hawaiian Plants, and a Resaurant with views of Hilo Bay.
Offering three authentic living history programs: HN Greenwell Store Museum, Kona Coffee Living History Farm, & Portuguese Stone Oven Baking. Special Events include lecture series and historical jeep tours and boat cruises.