Tag: Big Island

Cry sanctuary

Friday, June 20th, 2008 | All Things, Travel

Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park in South Kona preserves the site where, until 1819 when King Liholiho (Kamehameha II) abolished the ancient system of laws against the gods known as kapu, Hawaiians who broke the law could avoid execution by fleeing to this place of refuge. Under the system of kapu (taboo), offenses punishable by death included treading on the shadow of an ali’i (chief), fishing outside the specified seasons, or eating with a member of the opposite sex.

Such crimes would be forgiven only if the transgressor could reach a sanctuary such as this, either on foot or by swimming through the shark-infested bay. If successful, the kahuna (priest) was required to absolve all wrong-doing. Interesting idea.

As no blood could be shed within the confines of the place of refuge, here, too, defeated warriors could find respite, and women, children, the infirm and the elderly could find a safe haven from the battles raging outside.

Carved ki’i statues, effigies of gods, tower over the bay. Reproductions, but still eerie.

The temple complex sits on a 20-acre palm-fringed lava bed bordered by the sea on three sides. The grounds include temple ruins, a fishpond and private canoe landing.

What better way to celebrate this milestone of mine than with a clean slate?

Full Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park photo set on flickr.

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By the bay

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008 | All Things, Travel

Papaya and gecko:

We rented a pair of kayaks from Kona Boys, stacking and strapping them onto the roof of the car for the 6-mile drive to Napo‘opo‘o Beach for our afternoon excursion into Kealakekua Bay. The Marine Life Conservation District is home to one of Hawaii’s most spectacular coral reefs and marks the site of English explorer Captain James Cook‘s first landing in Hawaii in late 1778.

With a little assistance, we set off from a concrete pier into the water surrounded by sheer cliffs. The mile-wide expanse is one of the most protected bays in the Hawaiian islands, with little current and few swells which made for relatively smooth kayaking.

Our guide at the rental shop had told us in advance to expect spinner dolphins in the bay. (Had he not, the first sighting of that swarm of fins circling our kayaks would have been a much more disconcerting experience.) Even so, we did not expect to see quite so many of the friendly creatures — several pods, nearly two dozen dolphins in all — leaping and spinning in the air as if for our entertainment. Amazing and delightful!

No photos of our near one-hour crossing, unfortunately: my camera was packed away deep in the dry bag, which in the end was a good thing as the rough surf at the ancient canoe landing at Ka‘awaloa made debarking the kayak a much trickier affair than embarking. Let’s just say that I became much better acquainted with these rocks than I would have liked.

At the north end of the bay, the well-developed reef slopes steeply from the shore to a depth of over 100 feet of pristine water, clear as glass, from which we spied jewel-like coral, myriad colorful fish, sea urchin the size of our heads, and even a squid or two. The best snorkeling of the trip.

When Captain Cook first arrived on the Sandwich Islands (now Hawaii), he was revered as a god — some natives may have believed him to be a returning form of Lono, the Hawaiian God of peace, agriculture and prosperity — but his subsequent visit in 1779 met with much less favor: a 27-foot white obelisk marks the spot where Cook was killed by Hawaiians on February 14, 1779.

So caught up were we with the marine life that we happily missed the deadline to return the kayaks that evening, opting instead to carry them along to our dinner at the gorgeous Four Seasons Resort Hualalai later that night.

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