On the lava flats of southern Kona, Pu’uhonua o Honaunau is a traditional Hawaiian preserve also know as The Place of Refuge. Honaunau Bay was a natural place for the ali’i-royal chiefs- to establish residences due to it’s sheltered canoe landing and availability of drinking water.Separated from the royal grounds by a massive wall was the pu’uhonua, a place of refuge for defeated warriors and those who violated kapu, the sacred laws.In 1819 Kamehameha II abolished traditional religious practices and many of the old religious sites and structures were destroyed or abandoned. In the 1920’s the area was made into a county park, then in 1961 became a national historical park.These two Ki’i guardians stand watch over the rebuilt temple and mausoleum that once held the bones of 23 noble chiefs.
This self-guided tour of Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park offers picnicking sites, fishing, and hiking all for a $5 parking/entrance fee. The stunning landscape, rich history, and serene grounds make for a great afternoon drive and tour. Locals are often making crafts near the visitor’s center and gift shop area.