Pu’uhonua o Honaunau


Any visit to the Big Island of Hawaii would not be complete without a few hours spent picnicking and wandering around the grounds of Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historic Park. Also referred to as the Place of Refuge, this national park is famous in Hawaiian history.

The kapu (taboo) system of ancient Hawaii controlled the lives of its citizens. Women were prohibited from cooking for or eating with men. If  a commoner happened to look an ali’i (king) in the eye there would be punishment…

…and the punishment was death. Fortunately, this City of Refuge was a place where one was spared death if they could make it there alive (bypassing warriors and royalty who lived in the surrounding areas. ) In fact, the only way to reach the sanctuary was to swim through shark-infested, harrowing open ocean.

After priests performed rituals to placate the gods, you could return home with a clean slate. Hooray!