Puuhonua o Honaunau OR the Refuge

Did you know that Hawaii has a rich cultural history as well as kick-ass beaches? We visited the National Park Puuhonua o Honaunau (and, yes, I can say this in Hawaiian and I have the straw grasshopper to prove it!) on our last day in Hawaii as a low key thing to do, but it’s a wonderful place to visit. If you get a chance, stay for the ranger talk (it’s free) and it means so much more.

The grounds are fairly large and it is a cultural park, not a play a game of ultimate frisbee park.  There is a rocky beach around the corner from the park, but unfortunately, you can’t access the water from inside the park. If you could, you would be granted refuge. Historical Hawaiian culture and law sounded harsh – which means to me that life on the islands was probably unforgiving before modern conveniences and there was a reason the law had to be harsh. But, you gotta like a culture that allows you an “out” or a “do over”.  If you could reach this place of refuge before they cut off your head, you were given a “do over” – everything forgiven, slate wiped clean.

 

This was the front area of the Place of Refuge

The foregrounds of the Place of Refugre

 

The Place of Refuge was on a bay with a beach to the right.

The water approach

The game board still worked!

Modern game on old gameboard

Modern game on old gameboard

They had fish ponds here for the king’s use.  There were still Tilapia in the ponds protecting their nests

Fish ponds

I suppose people running for safety would be happy to see these guys

I suppose people running for safety would be happy to see these guys

The ranger told us that people still felt the spirits of the place and would bring offerings here

The ranger told us that people still felt the spirits of the place and would bring offerings here

Wooden totems

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