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Place of Refuge
 
Officially called in Hawaiian, Pu'uhonua o Honaunau, the Place of Refuge is probably the most visited Kona tourist site out of Kailua. Surprisingly it is a National Park so that there are two such on the Big Island including the Volcanoes National Park. This place was very important to Hawaiians.

If you broke a kapu (law) in those days then you were under a rather unpleasant immediate death sentence (This was before Miranda). However there was an out. If you could paddle your canoe fast enough to reach this place of refuge, then all your sins would be forgiven and you could return to your village life. There are murals here of one guy paddling like mad, only to be caught and killed by the king's warriors in their huge battle canoe within a hundred yards of his salvation. You can see how the missionaries were able to make hay selling confessionals.

To get here go south out of Kailua on Hwy 11, pass through Captain Cook, and take the right turn at the post office in Honaunau (Hwy 160). Click for map. (pictures taken March, 2001)

Click on a picture below to blow it up!

Whenever you see a rectangular pile on lavastones here in the islands, invariably they call it an heiau which is an alter where the priests do their thing which could get to be pretty grizzly. Anyhow this gives you an idea of what an heiau actually looked like in those days. As you see they built temples on the rocks out of available materials assembled completely without the use of nails. The dramatic pitch of the roof turns out to work as air conditioning since it is quite hot here.

Chinese checkers was played in the islands long before the Parker Brothers laid claim. The name of the game is called konane and it is played on this flat pitted papamu stone. The rangers at the park know how to play it. As you explore other lava beaches on the island you may be able to spot other such stones machined by ancient Hawaiians. There is one in my neighborhood but it is pretty badly worn.

This is the Hale o Keawe. Wooden images called ki'i stand watch over this reconstruction of a temple and mausoleum which housed the bones of 23 ali'i (members of the royal class). Ho'okupu (offerings) were placed on the lele (tower).

It's nice to stand in this Halau, a work structure, and feel the breeze cool you as you listen to a genuine Hawaiian in rather scanty authentic garb explain canoe building or anything Hawaiian that you desire.

Just north of the temple area but still within the park this place is popular with locals as a bathing beach with shallow areas where youngsters can frolick. This gives you an idea of how the site has been enjoyed for centuries. You can also see the boat ramp here.