Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park may be small (less than a tenth of a percent of the size of Volcanoes ... More
Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park
Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park may be small (less than a tenth of a percent of the size of Volcanoes National Park ), but this place is of immense historical significance. Once the site of an ancient Hawaiian place of refuge, law or code breakers flocked here to obtain mercy from the wrath of the gods (or the community). Other places of interest include royal grounds, reconstructed temples and ancient fishponds. A short walking trail winds through many of the interesting sites. Orientations are given several times daily. Artists and craftspeople often display their works onsite.
The grounds were gorgeous and historically interesting, yet my favorite part was the midly advertised trail that leads you along the shoreline and up to a cliff with expansive views.
Well worth the $5 per vehicle you pay to get it, which is valid for seven days.
In addition to the Place of Refuge itself (the historical monument - an extremely sacred Hawaiian site where people who violated the "kapu" code and were thus condemned to death could come to seek safety and be cleansed of their transgression), the small park next door is one of the best - if not THE best - snorkeling spot on the Big Island. Access is easy over the smooth black lava rock ledges lining the shore (there is a "two step") access point in about the middle) or via the boat ramp into the shallows. There are underwater fresh water outlets that attract a lot of fish and you can in many spots see the freshwater floating and shimmering several inches deep (and cold!) on the surface and dive down under it where it's clearer and warmer. There are absolutely incredible coral formations mainly of the shorter/stouter variety (due to the effects of twin hurricanes within the last ten years) at an average depth of maybe 3 meters; some nice rock outcrops covered with coral the come to within a couple feet of the surface; crevices and at least one easy arch you can free-dive through; the whole area sloping down at about 30 feet to a drop-off into the clear deep blue approx. 100 yards from shore. There were also suba divers using the easy shore access, and it was so cool that we snorkelers could easily see them cruising around - the water is just so amazingly clear! What a place - maybe even better and much much easier to get to than the nearby Kaelakekua Bay / Captain Cook monument.
This site is so amazing. Walk around the sacred grounds and you can imagine the people who tried to seek refuge here. I love looking into the bay and trying to see the sea turtles. I took the most beautiful pictures here.
There is a small beach right next to the site. If you are looking for sand, there is NONE on this beach. There were people snorkeling but there are only large rocks to lay on for sunbathing. Nevertheless, it is worth the trip!!!
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