The Royal Grounds, centered around the small embayment known as Keone'ele Cove, contains sites that range from pre-contact (prior to the arrival of Captain Cook in 1778) to historic times and that are traditionally connected with the pu'uhonua. Cup holes, which may have held kapu sticks, are noted to occur to the north, east, and southern boundaries of the Royal Grounds. It is believed that these kapu sticks demarcated the boundary of the royal area. In pre-contact times, the Royal Grounds contained several chiefly residences and ceremonial-related structures. Other highlighted sites used by royalty included the Heleipālala fishponds and Keone'ele Cove canoe landing.
Historical information indicates that in the area immediately east of the Hale o Keawe was once the location for a ti leaf thatched structure called the "Hale o Lono". In 1919, archaeologist J.F.G. Stokes was told by elderly Hawaiians that this area was a temple used for the four periods of prayer held monthly for eight months of the year. Ma'inui, one of Stokes' main informants and who was probably 95 at the time of the interviews, said that the Hale o Lono was destroyed by a tidal wave that occurred when he was 3 ½ years old (probably sometime in the early 1800s).
The area bordering the east side Keone'ele Cove was traditionally known as Kauwalomālie. Kauwalomālie is said to have contained a large platform, fronted by an 8-foot high retaining wall. The platform was reportedly the location for a chiefly residence and/or ceremonial area. According to testimonies from elderly Hawaiians, a school built from ohia logs, coconut sennit, and ti leaf was located within the area of the platform in the mid-1800s. In 1868 a series of stone walls were constructed within Kauwalomālie, a year after Charles Bishop purchased the entire ahupua'a (traditional Hawaiian unit of land) of Hōnaunau as a gift for his wife, Bernice Pauahi Bishop. The walls demarcated parcels of Bishop Estates land lots. A grove of coconut trees found within the lot walls was said to have been planted by Bernice Pauahi Bishop sometime after the land was gifted to her.