The Big Island is rich in history. Along the west coast there are several archeological sites where we were able to get a glimpse of how the ancient Hawaiians lived.
Our first visit was to the restored fishing village found in the Lapakahi State Historical Park. The park is found along the Akoni Pule Highway (Highway 270) in the North Kohala District. The village dates back 600 years and sits above an idyllic cove along the rugged pacific coast. There’s a one mile self guided trail where you can learn about the lives of the people who once lived here. It got pretty hot the morning we were there and the waters of the nearby cove looked so inviting for a quick swim. But the rugged waves crashing against the rocky shore made that an ill-advised thing to do.
Just a few miles south of Lapakahi is the Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site. Here you can learn about the life of the great Hawaiian king Kamehameha. The highlight of the park is the magnificent Heiau (temple) built by Kamehameha to the war-god Kukailimoku. He built this magnificent structure in the hopes of bringing the Hawaiian islands together as one people. I just happened to find the park while swimming at nearby Spencer Beach State Park. The beach was crowded and the swimming wasn’t all that great, so I decided to go for a little walk and before long I was walking in the footsteps of the great king around his great temple. The architecture of the structure is magnificent with no mortar used to hold the stones together. The view from the temple looking out into the Pacific is magnificent. Standing here, you understand why the king picked this spot for his majestic temple.
Along the southern coast in the Kona District we visited the Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park. Here is one of the most sacred sites in all of Hawaii. The well-preserved village was the home to Hawaiian royalty and was a place of refuge where those who broke sacred laws (kapu) could seek sanctuary and redemption. There’s an easy 1/2 mile walking tour that winds around the wooden structures, statues, and stone walls under the welcome shade of palm trees. You can even learn to play the traditional Hawaiian game of Konane on a replica of the stone surface (Papamu) where the pebbles used for this game are arranged. We also spotted a turtle on the beach here.
The Big Island isn’t just beaches and volcanoes. The area is rich in history; it’s worth taking a little time off from working on your tan to learn about the lives of the ancient Hawaiians who once dominated this land.