Big Island: 3. South of South – Pu’uhonua o Honaunau

We decided to spend the afternoon at Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Park, also known as The Place of Refuge.  It was recommended as an interesting place to visit by friends (who were there with kids in February) as well as several guidebooks and travel magazines.

Before getting there, we decided to stop for lunch at a place nearby that Mike found on Google — Super J’s — that serves traditional Hawaiian food.  While we weren’t sure about what anything was when we walked in, we asked a couple of people in front of us about the choices and asked the woman behind the counter, who we found out later was Super J! 🙂  She was super sweet and definitely gave everyone the aloha treatment!

We ended up getting a plate with laulau (pork wrapped and steamed in a taro leaf), potato/mac salad, sticky white rice, tomato/salmon relish, and Kailua pork and cabbage.  All of it was so tasty!!  It’s the kind of place you might just drive by and not stop because it’s nothing fancy and even walking in you might not be sure of what kind of “restaurant” it is as it just had a couple of banquet tables set up inside with supply shelves lining the walls and a very small kitchen in full view behind the counter. (Mike’s Note: We tried everything, and then went back for seconds!)  

After we got back to our house, I was doing a little more research and it turns out that Super J’s was actually featured on a Food Network show about authentic Hawaiian food!

At the visitor center, G got a junior ranger book to complete, so she could get her Junior Ranger badge and pin.  She started filling it our while we waited for the ranger talk to begin.

It was a wonderful presentation with lots of interesting historical information that helped to explain and help us understand more about the meaning and reasons for the Place of Refuge. In ancient Hawaii, anyone who broke kapu (sacred law), which included such things as walking in the shadow of a chief to catching certain fish during the wrong season, could seek refuge inside the walls of the Pu’uhonua. Often the punishment for breaking the kapu was death, but if you made it inside the walls of the Pu’uhonua you were forgiven.

After the presentation, we walked around the grounds and G completed her workbook.

Traditional Hawaiian game.
L seeking refuge from the rain.
G working on her junior ranger workbook in the middle of the royal grounds!
Looking out toward the heiau (Hawaiian temple).
Closer version of the heiau.
Looking back toward the visitor center.

Palm trees and the wall that separate the royal grounds from the place of refuge.
L standing next to a stone that, according to stories, Kamehameha’s favored queen hid underneath!


We stopped back at the visitor center, where she recited the pledge and got her pin and badge. 🙂  As it had started to rain, one of the park rangers was taking down the U.S. and Hawaiian flags and asked G and L if they’d like to help fold them.

On our way home, we saw a rainbow on one side and the windmill farm on the other side!

When we returned to the house, we found a card for Grace taped to the door. She and the woman taking care of the house (Sherry) had a fun chat the previous day about Belle the parrot among other things.  It had a lovely note written on it and a few feathers from Belle!  We stopped by that evening to say thank you and had a long conversation about birds, fish, etc. 🙂
(Mike’s Note: It’s hosts like Sherry and Mac that make great experiences like ours even better!)

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2 Replies to “Big Island: 3. South of South – Pu’uhonua o Honaunau

  1. You continue to teach and share. I am grateful! Love the picture of L looking at the statue. Congratulations to G on her award after studying and filling out the workbook. Can’t wait to see all of you. You all are truly amazing!!!!! Thank you. Love and hugs

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