Located on the southern Kona coast along Honaunau Bay (pronounced Ho-Now-Now) is a sanctuary known as Pu’uhonua o Honaunau. Say that ten times fast. 🙂 And our last-minute decision to stop by this National Park was probably one of the best last-minute decisions EVER. (I found out later that Lonely Planet Hawaii ranked this National Park as one of the top ten things to do on the Big Island; boy did we get lucky to stumble upon this gem.)
Pu’uhonua o Honaunau, also known as The Place of Refuge, is a palm tree paradise. A grove of coconut trees provides much-needed shade as you absorb the rich Hawaiian history and wander the exhibits of grass huts, wooden canoes, and hand-carved tiki statues. This sanctuary was originally built for royal chiefs and because royal bones are still upon the land, the area is considered sacred, so much respect should be paid when visiting.
Wondering why Pu’uhonua o Honaunau is known as the Place of Refuge? Pu’uhonua is the word for: sanctuary–a place that gave people a second chance. Ancient Hawaiians were ruled by a taboo system called, kapu (sacred laws), and violators of the kapu would face severe punishment, often times Death. Blood could not be shed within the confines of the sanctuary, so those who broke the kapu had to essentially out-run and out-swim the warriors to safety. This meant crossing open ocean, surviving deadly sharks, and swimming through strong currents, and if they were able to make it to the sacred Pu’uhonua alive their acts would be absolved by a priest and they were free to go home.
How crazy is that??
This sacred place was basically one big postcard, and I’ll admit, my husband and I mayyyyyyybe went a little bit shutter-happy. Hope you enjoy the photos.