Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Park on the Big Island, Hawaii
Never having been in a warm climate for the holidays, I was both excited and saddened while preparing to head from Seoul to Hawaii for Christmas. Of course, as soon I stepped foot off of the airplane and felt the warm air smack my face with full force all lingering feelings about missing possible snow, and other “Christmas”-like weather flitted right out of my head. What was I thinking? Hawaii was amazing and I did NOT miss any of the cold blistering wind gusts of winter or any of the other holiday season “necessities” that I deemed as such only because I grew up in the cold state of Ohio in the US.
The start of the trip was really awful and mostly because Hawaiian Airlines doesn’t live up to the visions that the name “Hawaiian” connotes but I’m not going to dwell on what could have been. Once at our destination, the fun really started and yes, Hawaii is truly breathtaking.
We started off the trip by visiting Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park where we learned of old laws and certain death. White sand leads from the parking lot to the coast that is lined with black lava rocks and what immediately stands out is the hut known as pu’uhonua or the “place of refuge” that is surrounded by the “Great Wall”. The wall is 17 feet thick and 10 feet tall and stretches 965 feet around the sacred land which is the only preserved refuge site visitors are still able to see today. Wooden totems surround the refuge that once protected and redeemed the Hawaiians.
This is a sacred place that protected defeated warriors, anyone who didn’t want to fight during times of war and those that violated the sacred laws, or kapu. In old Hawaii, those that broke a law faced death unless they could break free from their captors and make it to this place of refuge. Once here, the offender would be absolved by a priest and would be free to leave and the noncombatant would be protected until the battle ended. The area doesn’t have a ton to see in the way of buildings, but the lava rocks, carved wooden totems known as ki’i and the tall palm trees were a perfect “aloha” to Hawaii. After walking around the remnants we soaked in the tide pools and enjoyed the waves for a bit before heading to the house our family had rented out for the week we’d be on the Big Island.
Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park
Address: 1871 Trail, Captain Cook, HI 96704, United States
Phone: +1 808-328-2326
Hours: 7:00am ~ 15 minutes before sunset
Visitor Center Hours: 8:30am ~ 4:30pm daily
Admission & Other fees: $5 per vehicle (this fee admits a single private vehicle and all passengers up to 8) (pass can be used for 7 days); $3 per person (this fee is for anyone entering by foot, bicycle or motorcycle) (pass can be used for 7 days)
Amenities: parking lot, audio tour, bathrooms