Place of Refuge is a wonderful place on the Big Island of Hawaii to get a feel for and a little bit of an understanding of Hawaiian culture. This historic park is officially called Pu’uhonua o Honaunau (pronounced poo-oo-ho-new-ah o ho-now-now, at least we think that is how it is pronounced) is an ancient place of refuge. The Place of Refuge was a special place where if somebody broke kapu, or the sacred laws, it could otherwise mean instant death. The only way to escape your sentence of death was to evade your pursuers and make it to safety. If the accused made it to the place of refuge they would have to perform certain rituals and they would be able to return to society, all would be forgiven.
The Place of Refuge is a National Historical Park and is beautifully maintained. It shows any visitor a glimpse of traditional Hawaii. Karen and I were able to look at reconstructed Hawaiian houses, temples, and petroglyps. There was even a traditional Hawaiian game called konane which kind of looked like Chinese checkers.
The most amazing thing there to me was the massive wall that stood 10-feet tall and 17-feet wide that separated the Place of Refuge from the chief’s palace. The neatest thing about the wall is that it was made without any cut stones or mortar just random stones. Anytime that I have ever tried to stack rocks on top of each other I do not get very far before they are toppled. So, I was just in awe that they were able to build a wall over 1,000 feet without that happening to them.
The park keeps each visitor well informed with a pamphlet that contains a map and information about all the things that they will see there. It is an easy flat walk through the park. There is also drinking water and restrooms available to the public.
The Park is located near the town of Honaunau. If you are heading south from Kailua take Highway 11 until you reach Highway 160 which will be on your right. Follow Highway
160 until you reach the Place of Refuge.
The visitor center is opened from 8:45 a.m. – 4:30 pm
The cost as of 2011 is $5.00 per vehicle or $3.00 per individual
For more information visit the NPS site at http://www.nps.gov/puho/index.htm