Puuhonua O Honaunau National
Puuhonua O Honaunua National Park is a 180-acre compound
on the South Kohala coast where defeated warriors, war
victims and law-breakers traveled to seek forgiveness
and safety in ancient times. Puuhonua is surrounded
by a large stone wall, which measures 1,000 feet long,
10 feet high and 17 feet wide. The 180-acre site includes
a fishpond, canoe landing, thatched hale (house), halau
(A-framed large structure) and Hale O Keawe heiau (temple),
an ancient temple surrounded by large ancient wooden
kii (statue), which stand guard over the buried bones
of 23 alii (Hawaiian royalty).
Photo courtesy of Kirk Lee Aeder - Hawaii
Visitors and Convention Bureau
- 6:00 a.m. - 11:00 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays,
- 6:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. on Monday through Thursday.
- The Visitor Center is open 7:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Location: Off Hwy. 160 22 miles south of Kailua-Kona
Pu`uhonua o Honaunau means ''place of refuge of Honaunau.''
It was established during the early 15th century (some
on-site artifacts date to the 12th century). The area
was one of several sacred spots that gave sanctuary
to breakers of one of the ancient laws against the gods
or kapu, the religious law, for which the punishment
was death. It also provided a safe haven to women and
children and defeated warriors seeking protection in
time of war. War refugees remained until the conflict
was over; kapu breakers remained until they were purified
by priests, usually within a few hours or overnight.
When they left, the protection continued to guard them.
In the mid-1500s the Kona District was ruled by Keawe,
great-grandfather of Kamehameha the Great. On his death
he was deified and his bones placed in a temple at the
bay end of the wall with the remains of other previous
chiefs of Kona.
The last bones to be put in the temple were those of
one of Kamehameha's sons in 1818. The next year, with
the abolition of the kapu system, the place of refuge
became a thing of the past. Within the next decade the
images were taken, and the royal mausoleum fell to ruin.
Established in 1961, the park includes the sanctuary
and such archeological sites as temple platforms, royal
fishponds and coastal village sites. The Hale o Keawe
temple and several thatched structures also have been
The sanctuary, or pu'uhonua, is between the sea and
a lone L-shaped stone wall measuring up to 17 feet wide
and 10 feet high. Entrances are at both ends of the
wall. The sanctuary contains replicas of buildings and
artifacts of the heiau's culture. The well-preserved
temple platform, built in the late 16th century with
stones from an earlier structure, is within the wall,
and a reconstructed temple is at one end.
Leaflets outlining self-guiding walks are available
at the information desk in the visitor center. Orientation
talks are presented daily 10-3. Throughout the year,
people in native dress demonstrate such activities as
carving, weaving, the making of tapa cloth from mulberry
bark and the playing of traditional games. Picnicking
is permitted, but camping is not.
Admission is charged. As of 2004, the fee is
$5.00 per person for a week or $20 for an annual pass.
A National Parks Pass may also be used for admission.
Where to Stay in the Area:
- Kanaloa at Kona
- Aston Keauhou Beach Resort
- Kona by the Sea