On the dry western side of the Big Island of Hawai‘i, south of bustling port city Kailua-Kona, Pu‘uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historic Park is home to a reconstructed village that provides a glimpse into the daily life of the indigenous people hundreds of years ago. The National Park Service (NPS) offers a visitor center, picnic area, and a festival held annually in July.
Hale o Keawe temple, kōnane game table, fish ponds, Ki‘ilae village
Adjacent to the popular snorkeling area dubbed “Two-Step,” this park sees its share of sea turtles. Though these green sea turtles nest 800 miles to the northwest in the French Frigate Shoals, the well-known hula dance actually imitates the digging motions of a female turtle laying her eggs. In the winter, watch for migrating humpback whales that spout and jump just offshore.
Pu‘uhonua o Hōnaunau was a “place of refuge” for vanquished warriors, noncombatants, and kapu (taboo) breakers to be absolved by a kahuna pule (priest) so they could return home in peace. It was separated from the Royal Grounds by a 10-foot wall built in AD1550, which can be seen along the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail that runs through the park to access Ki‘ilae village.
Carved wooden ki‘i are guardians of this place of refuge and stand next to this reconstruction of a temple and mausoleum that held the bones of 23 ali‘i (noble chiefs). Ho‘okupu (offerings) were placed on the lele (tower) next to them.
The beach makes this spot popular year round
$15 per vehicle or America The Beautiful pass
All roads paved
County and state parks on the leeward west coast of this island are great places to camp and relax under palm trees listening to the waves break.
Explore More – What was the most severe punishment for breaking a kapu, such as letting your shadow fall on Royal Grounds?