Located in South Kona, Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, were once official royal grounds and considered a place of refuge for Hawaiian people who broke ancient laws. The sacred laws referred to as Kapu, were of the highest significance to traditional Hawaiian culture and treated with great respect. Breaking kapu was so severe that death was often a result. Those who had broken the law could hope to seek safety in the Pu’uhonua refuge where they would participate in a ceremony of absolution before being released back into society.
Today Pu’uhonua o Honaunau is one of the most significant sites in Hawaii. There are self-guided walking tours at the national park which lead visitors to the 12-foot-high Great Wall and wooden statues of gods (kii) who guard the site known as Hale o Keawe Heiau, a sacred temple that housed the bones of 23 chiefs (alii).