Pu'uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park

Phone (808) 328-2326
4.5 stars from 4 reviews
Address Hwy 160 & Hale O Keawe Rd, Honaunau, HI 96726
Known as the "City of Refuge", this was once a sanctuary for ancient Hawaiian lawbreakers.

• General: Cost: Paid • General: Educational
• General: National Park • General: Photo Opportunity
• Hiking: Hiking • Sightseeing: Great Views
• Tours: Self Guided • Cultural & Historical: Heiau / Sacred Site
• Cultural & Historical: Museum / Art Center

Matt Anderson's Take
In ancient Hawaii if you broke a Kapu (sacred law) it was punishable by death. And breaking a Kapu could be as simple as entering an area that was reserved only for chiefs or just eating a forbidden food.

So what do you do to avoid death? Your only chance for survival was to make it to Pu'uhonua (place of refuge), where a ceremony of absolution would take place and you could return to society. Remember playing tag as a kid and how "gool" (or goal if you prefer) was the safe zone? This place was like that but in more of a life or death scenario.

Today you're allowed to take a self guided tour of this sacred place. There are cultural demonstrations, hiking trails, fishing, and places to enjoy a picnic. The popular Honaunau Bay / Two Steps is nearby as well.

The Pu'uhonua is still considered a sacred site. Therefore the following restrictions are in effect: No nudity, beach chairs, towels, mats, beach umbrellas, coolers, picnicking, pets, weddings or wedding photos, smoking, recreational activities (such as frisbee throwing, football tossing, etc) are permitted here. Please help to preserve the Pu'uhonua as in the ancient times.
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Kandy H
Joined: May 2016
Reviews: 47
Likes Received: 2
If you want a great sunset opportunity to go here at sunset. We got here late and had the place to ourselves. Got some great sunset photos. Saw large turtles close by resting. We will have to go back to see this during the day. One of our places to revisit to see what it has that we missed.
Tom T
Joined: Sep 2013
Reviews: 579
Likes Received: 33
The park itself is well managed, preserving as you'd expect from a National Park. There are exhibits, historical artifacts, traditional dwellings and artisans giving demos. The visitor center is staffed with knowledgeable rangers who can explain with intricate detail the history of Pu'uhonua O Honaunau ancient artifacts.

Snorkeling is not allowed at Pu'uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park, but excellent snorkeling is located adjacent to the park at Honaunau Bay / Two Steps.
Consensus Guy
Joined: Jul 2013
Reviews: 11148
Likes Received: 26
Pu'uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park received an overall rating of 4.5 stars from over 50 reviews.
rachel m
Joined: Aug 2014
Reviews: 229
Likes Received: 19
Pu'uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park is also known as the Place of Refuge. When you arrive you pay five dollars for parking. Then you enter into a visitor center/gift shop where there are park rangers available to answer any questions. You can take a self-guided tour through the park. There are replicas of structures from old Hawaiian days as well as some original structures. There are awesome wooden carved statues all around the park.

This park also has cultural demonstrators. You can learn about weaving, fishing, carving and other crafts. Last time I was there I saw them carving a canoe and teaching people how to weave with coconut leaves.

The park opens at 7 AM and closes at sunset but the visitor center is only open from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM daily.

This is a must see if visiting the Big Island. And don't forget when you visit the Place of Refuge the St. Benedict painted church is on the way back to the highway.
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