Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park

#3 in Best Things To Do in Hawaii - The Big Island
Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park picture
Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park
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Cameron Brooks/Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)

Key Info

Highway 160

Details

Hiking, Parks and Gardens Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
4.5scorecard
  • 4.0Value
  • 3.0Facilities
  • 5.0Atmosphere

Up until the early 19th century on Big Island, Hawaiians who broke the law could avoid a punishment of death by fleeing to a region of the west coast known as pu'uhonua, or "place of refuge," where they would be forgiven by an area priest. In present day, this place of refuge is a historical landmark preserved by the park service. It's also an extremely popular outing for Big Island vacationers, and the pictures make it easy to see why. Not only will you enjoy Pu'uhonua o Honaunau if you have a penchant for history and trivia, but it's also exploding with eye-catching temples, intricate ki'i (wood carvings) and plenty of the honu, (or Hawaiian green sea turtles) that live on the premises. And the breathtaking scenery, of course – the Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park is located near some of the best snorkeling beaches of Big Island.

Recent travelers enjoyed learning about the culture and customs of the Hawaiian people through this national park, but some say that there is little shade and it can get hot. Make sure to wear a hat and bring plenty of water. 

Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, which can be found at Honaunau Bay in South Kona, is open daily from 7 a.m. to 15 minutes after sunset. The visitor center is operational from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. Passes to the park are good for seven days; there's a $15 fee for each car entering the park, or a $7 fee to enter individually on foot or by bike. Visit the National Park Service's official website for further details.

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Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park
Akaka Falls State Park
Type
Time to Spend
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#1 Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park

Four months after closing due to intense and damaging volcanic activity, Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park reopened in mid-September 2018. "The Volcano," as it were, loosely refers to two active volcanoes in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park; specifically, it's Kilauea that's the real must-see. A 4,000-foot-tall mountain, Kilauea has been spitting, spewing and oozing since Jan. 3, 1983 and in May 2018, it started erupting, forcing evacuations and destroying entire communities. Although the eruptions have stopped, Kilauea is still at the top of America's list of volcanoes to monitor. 

Most people who come to the park hope to see some lava flow; some travelers see a little bit, others are not as lucky. Check in at the Kilauea Visitor Center for up-to-date information on trails, safety precautions and where to expect lava flow. 

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