Try Not to Dehydrate at Pu’uhonua O Honaunai Park on the Big Island
The clouds rolled in but the heat remained. We had spent the morning swimming and were now touring down the southwest side of the Big Island of Hawaii. We’d made a stop at the Painted Church while Dek snoozed in the car. We scouted out a bit more of the island until he was ready to get up. Then we headed over to Pu’uhonua O Honaunai National Historical Park for a little stretch and toddler wandering time. The plan was set, we just weren’t quite prepared for it. Of all things not to have on hand, water was one I should have been carrying around by the case.
Pu’uhonua O Honaunai National Historical Park, also known as Place of Refuge, was once a sanctuary for anyone accused of a crime and facing the death penalty. If you could make it to the refuge you could atone for your sins in whatever way the priests deemed necessary and then go back to your life, no matter your crime. Not a bad way to avoid death if you are a fast runner, especially given the strict laws of the time.
For us modern folk, you can get a glimpse into life a few hundred years ago. Reconstructed houses and temples are littered throughout the grounds. There are wood carvings of gods (some anatomically correct) placed throughout the compound overlooking the water and some even in the water. A huge black stone wall, dating back to the 1500s separated the Pu’uhonua from the Ali’i’s (aka the chief’s) palace grounds.
It was that big black wall of stone that caused the trouble. We were exploring in the tropics. It’s kind of warm down there if you don’t already know. Add in a big heat conductor like a 10-foot high black wall and you have your very own oven to stroll through. Throw in a pregnant lady and you really do have a magical combination. In no time I became overheated, something I hadn’t had happen so far on the trip. There was a lot more to see, but I needed to get into some air conditioning fast. I needed a bottle of water and a little food stat. We bee lined it for the car to get me sorted out. We could have gone back into the park to explore some more once I was feeling better, but we were all tired.
I was sad to miss the nearby park. The beach looked perfect and was supposed to have some great tide pools for little ones to splash around in. Local families were out snorkeling and playing. Sea turtles were bobby around looking for a quiet place to rest. We even had our swim stuff in the car! It just wasn’t meant to be.
What I feel really bad about is that we missed the Arch City Coastline. Mike had been talking about doing a hike through there all morning. The pictures in our guidebook looked crazy, in a good way. I stupidly thought the park was where the arches were, but no, they were on the other side of the bay. This is when husbands really need to speak up and tell you where to go when you are in charge of driving. Here I thought we were headed towards the arches, when it fact they were two separate things.
Our time was quickly dwindling on the west side of the Big Island. Arch City had to get added to the list of places to see when we come back. With an island this huge, and a tired pregnant woman and toddler in tow, there was only so much we could see each day. And really, I can always use another excuse to head back down to the islands.
Know Before You Go
- Pu’uhonua O Honaunai National Historical Park, Tel: 808.328.2326 ext 1702
- Entrance fee: $5 per car, check the website for No Fee days
- Hours: 7am to sunset
- Strollers? Ditch the stroller and let the kids walk or strap the baby in a carrier. It will be much easier to navigate the rock and sand paths.
- Restrooms and water fountains are available on sight