Ask the Big Kahuna
“Answering the most common visitor questions”
Which island has the “Place of Refuge” on it?
Aloha Jerry –
Ah, pu`uhonua… Imagine yourself as a native Hawaiian who has just broken a kapu (a rule in the ancient Hawaiian system of laws). Intentional or not, the punishment was often immediate death. Where to hide or flee? A pu`uhonua, meaning place of refuge. Here you will be absolved of your crime by a priest or King and free to leave. This sacred place was also a safe haven for defeated warriors during times of battle.
During the reign of Kamehameha I, most of the old pu’uhonua were dissolved. The only pu’uhonua that remained were on Kauai (because the wars did not extend to Kauai) and at Honaunau on the Big Island.
The “Place of Refuge” that you are likely referring to is the Pu`uhonua o Honaunau, located on the Big Island. The Pu`uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park is a 182-acre park full of archeological sites and reconstructions for visitors to learn more about the sacred grounds.
Also, many green sea turtles sunbathe on this beach, making it a great spot for photographic opportunities.
Mahalo and may you find refuge in Hawaii,