Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park

Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park is a United States National Park on the Big Island in the state of Hawaii in the United States of America.


The park is open 7AM-8PM daily.


View across cove to the Pu'uhonua (refuge) area

The Hawaii of old was an organized into a social structure including chiefs, priests, skilled laborers and commoners. Strict laws or "kapu" existed for each of the separate divisions. Death was the penalty for breaking the law. One's only option for survival was to elude your pursuers and reach the nearest pu'uhonua, or place of refuge.

The Royal Grounds adjacent to the pu'uhonua were a favored residence of Hawaiian chiefs. Hale-o-Keawe acted as the royal mausoleum and held the remains of 23 chiefs. It was surrounded by carved wooden images (ki'i) of the gods. The mana (spiritual power) of the remains bestowed sanctity upon this sacred area. This temple was constructed in honor of Keawe'ikekahiali'i o kamoku, the great-grandfather of Kamehameha I.

Flora and fauna

When the first Polynesians came to Hawaii, they brought with them the plants and animals they would need to make a start in the new world. In the park you can spot the shiny-leafed noni, with its pale yellow fruit. Noni was used as a tonic to treat many different ailments.

You may also notice several stone planters found around the Hale Ho'okipa Visitor Contact Station. In this dry side of the island, the planters were used to raise crops. The stone walls protected the plants from the wind and coconut husks soaked in water were placed around the growing plants to keep the soil moist.

The fragrant pua maia with its white flowers is a native species. It was used for medicine and to help set broken bones. Growing along the lava, you may spot the lavender pohuehue, a native beach morning glory. Walk under the shade of the hala tree, whose leaves are used to weave mats and baskets.

Unfortunately, many plants found in the park are invading the native ecosystem, choking out the native vegetation and damaging archeological sites. In recent years non-native red mangrove has aggressively invaded many shoreline habitats in Hawai'i. Beginning in the mid-70s, red mangrove overran both Kaloko and Aimamkapa Ponds. Shortly after the park acquired the lands, the park staff aggressively removed the mangrove. This was a huge undertaking and the park's example has now been widely copied on the other islands in Hawai'i. Red mangrove has been entirely removed from the park - but the management staff constantly monitors and removes all new seedlings of this invasive weed.

The monk seal, one of only two mammals native to Hawaii, can sometimes be seen basking in the sun at the park. Sea turtles are also frequently seen in the small cove just off shore.


The weather in the park is typically hot and sunny. Plan for daytime temperatures in the upper 80's with cooler temperatures in the evening.

Get in

From Kailua-Kona, travel south towards Volcano on Highway 11. Turn right towards the ocean on Route 160 at the Honaunau Post Office. Watch for the park sign on the left as you drive towards the ocean.

Public transportation is available along the highway, but not directly to the park.


The entrance fees are as follows:

$5 per vehicle - 7 days. Admits one single, private, non-commercial vehicle and all of its passengers. Organized non-profit groups, (service organizations, scouts, church groups, college/school clubs) are not eligible for the $5 vehicle permit if utilized.
$3 per individual - 7 days. Admits one individual when entering by foot, bicycle, or motorcycle. Individuals 15 years old and younger are admitted free of charge.
$25 Tri-park Annual Pass. Allows access for 1 full year from date of first use at Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park and Hawai`i Volcanoes and Haleakala National Parks.

There are several passes that allow free entry for groups traveling together in a private vehicle or individuals on foot or on bike. These passes are valid at all national parks including Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park:

In 2016 the National Park Service will offer several days on which entry is free for all national parks: January 18 (Martin Luther King Jr. Day), April 16-24 (National Park Week), August 25-28 (National Park Service's 100th birthday weekend), September 24 (National Public Lands Day), and November 11 (Veterans Day).


Ki'i (wooden carvings) at the Hale o Keawe



Books and videos are available in the gift shop at the visitor center.


No food is available in the park.


A drinking fountain is available. Bottled water is available at the gift shop.



No lodging is available in the park and camping is not permitted. Several bed & breakfasts are located within Honaunau and neighboring towns. Hotels are available in Kailua-Kona, approximately one half hour from the park.


No camping is permitted.

Stay safe

If you plan to explore the park, bring sturdy walking shoes, a hat and sunglasses. Negotiating over lava on the trails may include loose rocks and uneven terrain.

Also, don't forget to bring plenty of water and use sunscreen.

The nearest hospital is in Kealakekua, approximately 8 miles north of the park.

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This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, February 13, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.