by Donald B. MacGowan
Sacred Ki'i Guard the Place of Refuge at Pu'u Honua O Honaunau National Historic Park: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan
Whether you visit the Big Island for a few days, a couple weeks or a few months, you want to make the most of your time in Paradise. With such a wide variety of natural and commercial attractions, it is natural for the visitor to get a little overwhelmed in the “Option Overload” and not be able to make a balanced and informed decision on what they want to do and how best to spend their time.
Pu'u Honua O Honaunau, the Place of Refuge, As Seen from Two-Step Snorkeling Beach, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan
Even choosing which beach you want to spend time on, or where you want to hike can be an exercise in confusion and conflicting advice. Clearly, visitors to Hawaii could use help making quality decisions about how best to spend their time.
Sacred Ki'i at Pu'u Honua O Honaunau, the Place of Refuge. The "Kona Style" of Polynesian Wood Carving is Considered Among the Best in the World and These Sacred Iki are Fine Examples, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan
Tour Guide Hawaii is excited and proud to announce the release of their new GPS/WiFi enabled App for iPhone and iPod that helps you navigate your trip to Hawaii with hours of informative, location-aware video and information. Although our video guide will lead you to dozens of unusual, untamed and unspoiled spots, let’s look at what may be Hawaii’s most spiritual, historically important and beautiful attraction, Pu’u Honua O Honaunau National Historic Park, and highlight just a bit of the information you might not be able to find from maps and guidebooks that could otherwise cause you to miss some very interesting places and amazing sights if you did not have Tour Guide Hawaii’s new App.
Pu'u Honua O Honaunau National Historic Park Entrance, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan
Pu’u Honua O Hounaunau National Historic Park: The Place of Refuge
Hale O' Keawe Heiau and Keone'ele, Pu'u Honua O' Hounaunau National Historic Park: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan
Introduction: Writing about the Place of Refuge in 1889, Robert Louis Stevenson said: “There are times and places where the past becomes more vivid than the present, and the memory dominates the ear and eye…”
Royal Fishpond, Place of Refuge, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan
Easily the most beautiful, peaceful and restful spot in all the Hawai’ian Islands, Pu’u Honua O Honaunau is a place of ease and regeneration for even the most weary and jaded soul. Of enormous historical and cultural significance, the sacred grounds at Honaunau are the best-preserved and largest remaining Pu’u Honua, or Place of Refuge, complex in Hawai’i. It is also a wonderful area to wander, swim, hike, snorkel, relax, picnic or SCUBA dive
Sacred Ki'i Guard Secrets as Old as Hawaii Itself, Pu'u Honua O Honaunau, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan
Samuel Clemens and Kamehameha III passed many days in idle chat along the Great Wall of Honaunau; one can still sit upon the rock where they reclined and see the holes bored into the lava to support poles for awnings. For anyone who had any doubts about what Old Hawai’i was like, a trip to Honaunau will fill your imagination, your camera and your soul.
Hale o Keawe and Temple Precincts, Place of Refuge, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan
The Place of Refuge: A complex and strict order of law, known as the kapu system, controlled and governed everything in ancient Hawai’i from the order of crop rotation to proper sexual relations, what fish may be caught and in what season, what foods could be eaten by women and proper respect for the royalty (for instance, it was to break kapu for men and women to eat together, for women to eat pork or bananas, or for commoners to look upon the king or to step upon ground he had trod). Under the kapu law system, punishment for any transgression was swift and severe: immediate death by stabbing, clubbing, strangulation, drowning or burning. There was no appeal and no recourse; judgment was immediate and final.
Path from the Temple Grounds to the Royal Precincts, Pu'u Honua O Honaunau National Historic Park: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan
Unless the accused could escape to one of the designated heiau at a place of refuge. Once there, the accused would undergo a cleansing ceremony by the kahuna and would be absolved of all crimes and allowed to return to his family and previous life, free of onus. Women, children and the infirm also took refuge at the Pu’u Honua in times of war, as did vanquished warriors wishing to submit to the winning chief. Not often mentioned, however, is the grisly sport the king’s men sometimes made of the unfortunate accused, chasing them across sharp a’a fields, through the surf, over mountains, toying with their victims only to butcher them upon the Refuges’ outer wall, seeming seconds from salvation. This too, was sanctioned by the law.
A Passage Through The Massive Wall of Honaunau, Pu'u Honua O Honaunau National Historic Park: Photo by Donnie MacGowan
The complex at Pu’u Honua O Honaunau, established as a National Historical Park in 1961, is vast, well preserved and pervaded by a soul-filling peace. Down the center of the complex runs the Wall of Honaunau, 100 feet long, 10 feet tall and 17 feet thick. It separated the palace grounds of the Ali’ from the temple grounds of the Pu’u Honua. The wall was made without mortar or dressing the stones and has survived for over 500 years.
The Dry-Stack Masonry Employed by the Ancient Hawaiians, Using No Mortar, Has Survived Over Half a Millenium of Earthquakes, Tsunamis and Volcanoes With No Apparent Damage: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan
The royal residence area includes the canoe landing at Keone’ele Cove, Heleipolala Fishpond, several reconstructed residences and a canoe hale as well as the famous Hale Keawe, where the iwi (bones) of as many as 23 Ali’i ancestors of Kamehameha were once stored and venerated.
The 'Ale'ale'a Athletic Field, Pu'u Honua O Honaunau National Historic Park, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan
On the grounds of the refuge itself stands the stone platform, ‘Ale’ale’a, which was used for sports, the Keoua Stone, legendary resting place of the Ali’i and the Ka’ahumanu Stone, where it is said the favorite wife of Kamehameha the Great hid after quarrels with her husband.
An Ocean View Through Waiuohina Lava Tube View, Pu'u Honua O Honaunau National Historic Park, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan
Leading south out of the refuge is the 1871 Trail, so named because area residence paid their 1871 taxes by improving and maintaining it. This trail leads to many important archeological sites such as the Ki’ilae Village, ‘Oma’o Heiau, Alahaka Heiau, Keokua Holua and the Waiuohina Lava tube.
Sunset in the Vog Cast an Eerie Light on this Sacred Iki, Place of Refuge, Honaunau, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan
To see the new iPhone/iPod Touch App, please visit http://www.tourguidehawaii.com/iphone.html. The best of Tour Guide Hawaii’s free content about traveling to, and exploring, the Big island, can be found here. For more information on traveling to Hawaii in general and on touring the Big Island in particular, please also visit www.tourguidehawaii.com and www.tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com.
The Place of Refuge, Pu'u Honua O Hounaunau National Historic Park, From Across Honaunau Bay, Kona Hawaii: Photo by Donnie MacGowan
Copyright 2009 by Donald B. MacGowan. All rights reserved.