Experience Old Hawaii at Pu`uhonua O Hōnaunau National Park

March 10, 2015, 4:20 PM HST
* Updated March 11, 1:16 PM
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Pu`uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historic Park, also known as ‘The City of Refuge’, is a living relic of Old Hawaii’s customs and beliefs.

Located on the Kona coast of the Big Island, this national preserve once served as a sanctuary to law-breakers of the Hawaiian Kapu system – sacred laws that were punished by death if broken. The Kapu (which means forbidden, sacred, or holy) dictated all facets of Hawaiian life, from interactions between men and women, to protecting the mana (spiritual power) of chiefs.

If offenders could make it to the pu`uhonua safely, they would be granted amnesty by a priest and freed to leave.  The refuge also served as a safe place for defeated warriors and civilians during times of war.  No harm would come to those who reached the boundaries of the pu`uhonua.

Today, the site is still considered sacred, and many activities are restricted to maintain this sanctity.  The grounds are surrounded by high rock walls, and furnished with ki`i, or carved wooden images that surround shelters once home to the bones of Hawaiian chiefs.

Visit this incredible historic site and experience a palpable spirit of peace and forgiveness that still resides within its walls.


The park hours are from 7 a.m. until 15 minutes before sunset.  For current park hours, visitors can call the park center at (808) 328-2326, ext. 1702.  The visitor center is open daily from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.


Entrance fees are $5 per vehicle for a week, $3 per individual for a week, or $25 for a tri-park annual pass which gives a full year of access to Pu`uhonua O Hōnaunau, Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, and Haleakalā National Park.

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