Natural Beauty Combines With Spirituality at Hawaii’s Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park

Off Hwy. 160, Honaunau, Hawaii Spanning 180 acres of idyllic oceanfront land, this heavenly park preserves a revered place of

Off Hwy. 160, Honaunau, Hawaii

Spanning 180 acres of idyllic oceanfront land, this heavenly park preserves a revered place of refuge and profound significance in ancient Hawaiian culture. According to island natives, a visit to a pu’uhonua had the power to shelter those fleeing from battle, as well as absolve those who broke a kapu—one of the sacred laws that governed everything. To break a kapu was to incur the wrath of the gods, with potential consequences from lava flows to tsunamis, not to mention certain death. Upon reaching this sanctuary, kapu breakers were purified by a priest and spared further punishment.

Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historic Park, Hawaii
God images stand guard at Pu’uhonua o Honaunau, the fully restored city of refuge on the Big Island.

Meticulously restored, the royal compound includes exquisitely carved wooden images, a mausoleum for the Kamehameha dynasty, and the impressive wall built stone by stone without mortar.

Beyond its sublime natural beauty and mana, or spiritual power, the park offers abundant interactive cultural opportunities. On a 30-minute self-guiding trail, you will see many archaeological sites, including reconstructed burial temples and canoe sheds. Watch your head—the ceiling is low—and flashlights are recommended. Ask at the visitors center for a backcountry trail guide.

Open year-round. Admission charged.

www.nps.gov/puho
(808) 328-2326

Originally Published in Reader's Digest

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