Visit the historic walled refuge of Hawaiian lawbreakers, the only place on the island where their lives would be spared.
The tranquil grounds of the Pu'uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park are an important part of ancient Hawaiian history, and one of the best places to immerse yourself in the culture. The 420-acre (170-hectare) park is home to archaeological ruins including the Great Wall, the Royal Grounds and a sacred temple. Visit the park at sunset to experience the stunning views across the Pacific Ocean.
Follow the self-guided walking tour. Maps are available throughout the park and will lead you to all the key attractions. Make your way to the park’s amphitheater for one of two daily ranger talks. This is a great opportunity to learn about the park and the customs of those who once lived here.
Walk the well-maintained trails that lead away from the Visitor Center to discover the 17-foot (5-meter) thick Great Wall, once used to confine lawbreakers. Rather than face execution, those who broke a kapu, an ancient Hawaiian law, could find refuge within the walls of the pu’uhonua. Huge wooden sculptures, known as kii, guard the temple within the wall and are an iconic part of Hawaiian culture.
Explore the Royal Grounds, once the home of the chief of Kona. Here you will find ancient fishponds, houses and a heiau, a sacred temple and one of the oldest remaining buildings in the park. Try your hand at papamu, a traditional Hawaiian game played by royalty. A playing surface remains in the Royal Grounds; pick up information on the rules of the game at the Visitor Center.
Pu'uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park is located approximately 20 miles (32 kilometers) south of Kailua-Kona and is best reached by car or taxi, with parking included in your admission fee. Some charter buses also serve the park and can be booked in Kailua-Kona. Drinking water is available at the park but visitors should bring their own food.
Pu'uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park is open daily.