We've all dreamed of paradise–or seen it in the movies: crystal-clear blue water…palm trees swaying in the breeze…cloudless skies…colorful, playful tropical fish…graceful seabirds winging overhead…giant green turtles sunning themselves…remnants of an ancient civilization.
Well, such a beautiful dream actually does exist--in a little slice of heaven known as Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park. Located on the Kona coast of the southwestern edge of the Big Island of Hawaii, the park (which translated means “Place of Refuge”) celebrates Hawaiian culture and the native people who took shelter here.
A self-guided walking tour takes visitors through the pathways once reserved for royalty, and the sacred ground where those under penalty of death could take refuge from their pursuers. Some of the thatch and coconut-fiber buildings have been reconstructed, and the stone remnants of other structures can be seen, along with totems and other ceremonial objects.
The history of this place is beautiful and fascinating, but the most captivating thing about Pu'uhonua is its setting. The ocean stretches to the horizon beyond the pristine white, sandy beaches. And those beaches provide a lovely contrast to the black volcanic rock that juts out from shore creating tide pools where visitors can watch fish and green sea turtles.
You'll definitely want to spend a whole day here--that is, if you want to leave at all!
—Laura Connors, NPCA