Big Island: Pu`uhonua O Hōnaunau & Two Step Beach
Whenever we travel, we like to mix relaxing things with some more educational activities to get to know the history and customs of the place we are visiting. On the Big Island, acquiring such knowledge proved to be quite easy - sometimes you barely need to leave the beach to learn about the native Hawaiian people. Pu'uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park was no exception - steps away from the beach we found a complex of archeological sites, which was rich in Big Island history.
This peaceful and beautiful place is of great significance to the Hawaiian People. Up until the 19th century, Hawaiians who broke kapu (Hawaiian code of conduct/laws) could avoid death if they could reach Pu`uhonua O Hōnaunau - the place of refuge, as they called it. Back in the day, even unintentional breaking of kapu meant immediate death, unless you were able to escape to Pu 'uohonua. However, because there was only one refuge place on the Big Island, getting here to obtain forgiveness was not an easy route. This practice continued until the abolishment of the kapu system in 1819.
This beautiful park is situated on 180 acres but is easily traversed by foot. A brochure with a detailed map is available at the entrance for a self-guided tour. These structures are called halau and they were used as working areas in the past. This is where canoes, tools, and weapons were made. Beautiful palm trees adorned the area. Beautiful colors of nature. The Great Wall separates two sections of the park: the royal grounds and the pu'uhonua (place of refuge). It was built in the 16th century with large lava rocks without the use of mortar or cement. Ki'i wooden statues guard the temple of Hale of Keawe which houses the remains of dignified chiefs.
Ki-i were often used to mark the grounds of sacred sites. Ki-i looking over the beach.
The sand at Puʻuhonua O Hōnaunau was "salt-and-pepper", a mix of white sand with some volcanic rock particles. Just a short walk from Puʻuhonua O Hōnaunau (in the background) is a small but very fun beach called Two-Step. People come here mainly for one thing - amazing snorkeling. This is where we saw some of the most colorful fish and coral reef as well as turtles. I was lucky enough to swim behind one, of course keeping a large distance as to not bother this beautiful animal. In moments like this I wish I had an underwater camera or a GoPro.
The waters were a bit choppy so we had to take frequent breaks from snorkeling. The next stop for the day was a spot from which we could see Captain Cook's monument (that white obelisk in the distance). This obelisks marks a spot in which Captain Cook was killed in 1778 in a conflict between his crew and Native Hawaiians. What started off as friendly relations ended in conflict and death after Native Hawaiians realized that Captain Cook was not a God but a mere mortal. On our way to see Captain Cook's Monument, I gathered some plumeria flowers and decided to make my own lei. This is the first time during our travels that our sewing kit came in handy.
My finished lei modeled by Vlad.
I really enjoyed wearing it that afternoon. The next day however, I gave it to a young girl on the beach. Spreading the aloha spirit. Aloha!
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