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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Big Island Places to Visit - City of Refuge

It's time to island hop back to the Big Island after we spend some time on Maui dealing with the current abundance of Kihei condo short sales and the question 'Is it a good time to buy a Maui condo?' Maui condos are also getting some special attention this fall because condo vacation rental rates are lower than ever for the 2009 fall season. One reason for us to share with our Best Hawaii vacation blog visitors Best Fall Airfares from Seattle to Maui. After Labor Day, flight tickets are outrageously low. It's time for a Maui Beach vacation in Kihei!

If you are not a beach bum but prefer adventure, the Big Island is right for you as we pointed out in many previous posts such as 'Which Hawaiian island is your favorite island?' My favorite saying about a Big Island vacation is this Hawaiian island offers 'adventure beyond the ordinary'! Where else can you see a live volcano or go ski in the morning on a snow covered mountain and swim in the warm waters of the Pacific in the afternoon. Those who plan their Big Island vacation now, might want to peruse our previous Big Island vacation articles.

Entrance sign to City of Refuge on Kona Coast
Here is another of those special Big Island adventures, which actually allows you to combine learning more about ancient Hawaiian traditions and culture with having the best Hawaii snorkel experience. It's a visit to the City of Refuge or Pu'uhonua o Honaunau, National Historic Park. The park is located on the southern Kona Coast. Take Hwy 11 to Hwy 160 and continue downhill 4 miles to the entrance of the park.

Mural about ancient Hawaiian life at park entrance
The visitors Center is open 8am - 5:30pm. A self guiding tour takes you through the grounds: The Royal Grounds and the Place of Refuge. With Honaunau Bay offering an easy canoe landing place + the availability of drinking water, it was the perfect place for the ali'i (Roayals) to build one of their major residences there. The Royal grounds were separated from the pu'uhonua, place of refuge, by a massive stone wall built about 1550 - 10 feet high + 17 feet thick! - and still standing today. Can you believe that?!

Individual thatch roofed huts
So, what's the story behind the City of Refuge? In ancient Hawaiian life, activities were regulated by 'Kapu'. If a 'kapu' was broking, Hawaiians feared that their gods would get mad at them with an earth quake, volcano eruption or tidal wave. To 'prevent' that they tried everything to catch the kapu breaker. A kapu breaker was sentenced to death, unless he/she managed to reach pu'uhonua, which meant absolution by a priest and a safe return home. Tough times, I'd say.

Walking the self guided tour at City of Refuge
See for yourselves how ancient Hawaiian ali'i lived. When you walk those ancient sacred Hawaiian grounds, you might get transported into the past and feel the spirit of old Hawaii. We did not feel any goose bumps as some visitors report when visiting ancient heiaus in Hawaii. Get back into the presence by swimming and snorkeling in the ocean waters of Honaunau Bay. Don't forget your snorkel gear, as Honaunau Bay is one of the best snorkel spots on the Big Island. It is also a great place to see the Hawaiian green sea turtles.

Snorkeling Honaunau Bay after visit to City of Refuge
You want to share your personal City of Refuge experience, we'd love to hear from you. Have a wonderful time on your Big island vacation. Aloha, Pua Hawaii Vacations

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