Tag Archives: Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park

First visit to Hawaii

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Meaningful Memories.’ See more responses here.

This seemed like an opportune time to revisit my first visit to Hawaii, back in 2010. My wife and I stayed in a vacation rental near Captain Cook, overlooking Kealakekua Bay. The sky was hazy with vog from Kilauea Volcano, but the place was awash with colorful flowers. Just down the road was the Painted Church and at the foot of the hill, Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park celebrates Hawaiian culture and history with its wooden ki’i and towering palms.

We traveled the whole island from the black sand beach at Pololu (even if we had to pass the carcass of a dead whale twice) to the black sand beach at Punalu’u, dotted with resting green turtles, and rocky surrounds. There were waterfalls big and small, and roads lined with tropical foliage leading to the active lava flow at that time.

There, signs warned that flowing lava is dangerous (who knew?), but we were still able to get within 10 feet of oozing tongues of red, and saw small fires still burning in nearby brush.

There was even a house for sale: ‘Buy now before it burns!’ We didn’t, though that house still stands while others, much farther from that scene, have since been consumed by subsequent flows.

It was this visit that prompted us to return permanently two years later. Hawaii isn’t paradise – it has its pros and cons like any place – but we haven’t regretted the move and are looking forward to the next 10 years.

Place of Refuge and Two Step

There’s a good variety of fish at Two Step including raccoon butterflyfishes, seen here mingling with goatfishes and yellow tangs.
A barred filefish swims by with a startled look on its face, which is just their usual look.
Ki’i at Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, better known as Place of Refuge.

This week’s Friendly Friday challenge theme is ‘Anniversaries.’ See more responses here.

Often, on our wedding anniversary, my wife and I go to Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve and Garden (formerly Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden). This year the garden was shut, and still is, probably until tourists return to the islands. So a different anniversary is my birthday, which is not marked with candles on a cake, since that would be prohibitively expensive, but usually by a trip somewhere and a meal out. This year we went down to snorkel at Two Step and then had a wander around Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, otherwise known as Place of Refuge, which is right next door.

Two Step is a very popular snorkeling spot on Honaunau Bay, south of Captain Cook. This is a marine reserve so no fishing is allowed and the fish tend to be more numerous and mellow because of this. It’s a popular spot to see and swim with dolphins, though I haven’t done either of those things there. Currently, it’s not nearly as busy since there are very few tourists on the island and those that are here are diligently following quarantine rules (I’m trying to keep a straight face writing this!).

After our swim we made the short walk to Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park. The park is on the south side of the bay and, at the moment, is fully open only on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. However, on the other days, pretty much everything else is accessible, it’s just that the parking lot and visitor center are closed. What this means is that there’s basically nobody there so our visit was quiet and uncrowded. The park is an important place in Hawaiian history, and the location is beautiful. What’s not to like?

For more information about Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, visit https://www.nps.gov/puho/index.htm.

Palm trees reflect in one of the fishponds at Place of Refuge.

Goats at the watering hole

A recent visit to Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, otherwise known as Place of Refuge, included this encounter with a herd of goats. The goats were passing through and stopped to get a morning drink in the ponds. These anchialine ponds are connected to the nearby ocean through underground channels. Because of this, the levels of water in the ponds vary with the tides.

In the ponds, fresher water floats on top of saltwater from the ocean, which is why they’re a good watering hole for the goats. Back in the days when Hawaiian royalty lived on these grounds, the ponds were used to hold fish for future consumption by those living here.

For more information about Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, visit https://www.nps.gov/puho/index.htm.

The top of Two Step

Two Step is a popular snorkeling spot, next door to Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, otherwise known as Place of Refuge. It gets its name from one of the entry points to the water, where two flat lava ledges make it easy to get in and out. Well, fairly easy; there’s usually a crowd gathered around the steps so it can be a bit of a scrum. Also, small sea urchins sometimes lurk in hollows in the steps.

Once it the water, there’s room to roam. I like to swim the length of the bay and out a little bit, to where I can look down the coral slopes leading to the sandy floor of the bay.

Posted in response to Becky’s April Squares challenge theme of ‘Top.’ See more responses here.

Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Our National Parks.’ See more responses here. There are two national parks on the island. One is Hawaii Volcanoes National Park which encompasses Kilauea Volcano and Mauna Loa Volcano. The other is the somewhat lesser known Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, which is also known as Place of Refuge.

There are two parts to the park, which are separated by an imposing rock wall. On the inland side of the wall are the grounds where Hawaiian royalty made their home. The water side of the wall was the place of refuge. Anyone who had broken the law or kapu faced the death penalty, but if they could reach a place of refuge they would be forgiven by a priest and allowed to return to their normal lives.

At one end of the wall is the Hale o Keawe temple, surrounded by ki’i (wooden statues). This structure houses the bones of many Hawaiian royalty or ali’i, which are believed to give the place great power or mana.

For more photos and information on this site about these parks, click on the tags for Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park or Hawaii Volcanoes National Park at the bottom of this page.

For more information about Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, visit https://www.nps.gov/puho/index.htm. For more information about Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, go to nps.gov/havo/.

First Big Island visit

Pololu beach

Turtle at PunuluuTropical foliageLava flowingThis week’s Friendly Friday challenge theme is ‘Turning point.’ (See more responses here.) Since this is a photo blog about the Big Island it seems appropriate to post some photos from my first visit here in 2010, a visit which was the catalyst for the move to the island. There was no ‘ah ha’ moment, but these photos give a general idea of some of the things that appealed.

The top photo is Pololu beach on the North Kohala coast. Second photo is a Hawaiian green turtle resting on the black sand beach at Punalu’u County Beach Park. Third photo is tropical foliage next to a small cascading stream. Fourth photo shows some small lava breakouts in the flow that was active at that time. Conveniently, that activity was about 100 yards from the parking area and only 10 feet or so beyond where I was standing. The bottom photo is a view of Two Step, a popular snorkeling spot, from Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park.

Two Step from Place of Refuge

Place of Refuge pond

Place of Refuge pool

Palm trees are reflected in still waters at Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, otherwise known as Place of Refuge. This is one of the royal fish ponds, an anchialine pool in which fish were held for consumption by Hawaiian royalty.

For more information about Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, visit https://www.nps.gov/puho/index.htm.