If you ever make it to the Big Island of Hawai’i, one of the places I would recommend you going would be to Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park. Pu’uhonua o Honaunau AKA the place of refuge.  This park is more of a sanctuary. It is also home to some very significant and traditional Hawaiian sites in the Hawaiian Archipelago.

The boys at the park

The Pu’uhonua or place of refuge is one of the most prominent features in this park. It is enclosed by the high wall, a massive 965-foot long masonry wall.

Pu'uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park or place of refuge is where you would go to avoid death after breaking a kapu (one of the ancient laws).

Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park

The protected waters of Honaunau Bay combined with the availability of water from brackish springs provided the ideal location for the ali’i-Hawaiian royalty-whom established important residential and ceremonial sites nearby, an area known today as the Royal Grounds. For several centuries, the pu’uhonua, the Royal Grounds and adjacent areas formed one of the primary religious and political centers within the traditional district of Kona.

Although it was super hot the day we went, probably partly due to the black lava ground throughout most of the area, it was something to see. The way parts of the buildings were preserved and the beautiful views you could see from just about anywhere in the park.

The Place of Refuge

Just imagine that you’ve broken a sacred law, one that the only punishment was death.  In Hawai’i, this would be the kapu. The only way you could survive your punishment was if you were able to escape and reach the Pu’uhonua, a place of refuge. Only the Pu’uhonua protected the kapu breakers, defeated warriors, and civilians during the time of battle.  No harm could come to those who reached the boundaries of the place of refuge!

Pu’uhonua o Honaunau is a sacred site.