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At Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park visitors can immerse themselves in Hawaiian history and culture all while enjoying the scenic beauty of coastal Hawaiʻi. Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau strives for full and equal participation for all visitors. By using principals of universal design, the park is committed to providing an ever-increasing level of accessibility. From rehabilitating older facilities to updating publications and media, accessibility has become a key component of all projects.


Visitor Center Complex

Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau Visitor Center

The visitor center has an information desk, Hawaiʻi Pacific Parks Association (HPPA) bookstore, and exhibits. It is fully accessible with accessible parking spaces and accessible restrooms nearby.

Interpretive Wall Exhibit

The interpretive wall exhibit blends interpretive graphics and architetural design with a recorded interpretive story conveying the intense history of Hawaiian culture. A transcript is available for each of the three audio stories along with interpretive descriptions of images on the wall.

Story #1: Oli
Button Location: Closest to the visitor center

The sea, the sky, the land, and the living things of the island world were created by the gods. At one time this island and its neighbors were voiceless. No one was here to laugh, shout, or sing. The nearest people lived on specks of land to the south, over the horizon. One day, my ancestors left the southern islands, I don’t know why, maybe there were too many people for the land; maybe they set out to find a place where they could do things their way. It was a long voyage, and many died, the double canoes were tossed like leaves on the shaky sea. Paddlers died of thirst on a hot still day. The voyagers had pigs, dogs, chickens, and useful plants on board, but they used them sparingly, fearfully. What if they ate all their supplies and then sighted land? Aue! Better to die at sea then to find a barren land and have no life to bring to it. With the help of the gods and goddesses my ancestors reached these shores alive. They and the life they brought with them are my inheritance.

Story #2: Pu Kani
Button Location: Center of the wall

When the ruling chief traveled, men went before him sounding the kapu, the taboo. Everyone else got out of the road, ran and hid, or just fell with their faces to the ground when they heard the sound of the conch. The chiefs were descended from the gods; their power came form their mana, spiritual power the gods had given them. Lesser men couldn’t even look at the chief. The very ground he walked on was sacred; it had his mana, it was protected by the gods. A man of my family long ago stepped on a place where the chief had walked. The warriors killed him right away. By stepping on the mana, he had insulted the gods. Angry gods took their revenge with lava flows and tidal waves. The kapu breaker was sure to die. If the warriors killed him, others wouldn’t die because of him.

Story #3: Refuge
Button Location: Closest to the Royal Grounds

Our wise gods caused the ancient rulers to set aside pieces of ground as sanctuaries. They were few and far between, but if you broke the law and reached the place of refuge, no harm could come to you. The priest of the refuge purified you, and you returned home again all in a matter of hours, if you made it. In times of war, if you couldn’t fight, you went into the place of refuge; if you fought and lost, getting to the refuge would save you. Battles were short, so you would only be there a few days. The refuge was not pleasant, but it kept you alive. And then Captain Cook came, and others after him, and ours was no longer an island world. Changes came faster and faster. Kamehameha the first united the islands for the first time in our long history. Kamehameha the second saw his world changing and he destroyed the religion. With the religion went the kapu, the temples, and the refuges. The ancient problems are still with us: how to get along with each other and how to use the world wisely.
OVERVIEW: Interpretive Wall Exhibit
This interpretive wall exhibit blends interpretive graphics with a recorded interpretive story and serves as an introduction to the intense history of Hawaiian culture. The wall acts as a timeline with the earliest event of Polynesian voyaging on the far left to the unification of the islands and the end of the kapu system at the end on the far right. The exhibit is spread along an open-air breezeway that leads to the Royal Grounds. The wall is divided into five panels with every other panel set back a few feet adding depth to the exhibit. Artwork on the interpretive wall is comprised of a variety of materials: painted ceramic tile mosaics, carved wooden images, and 3D relief images. The background of the wall is painted a bright golden yellow color and most of the tile designs have a bright, sky-blue background color.

Story #1: Oli

Image #1 of 4: Polynesian Voyaging
Material: Painted tiles
Descripton: Voyagers in traditional clothing sail in a double-hulled canoe, or waʻa, with woven sail and A-frame shelter. Beneath the canoe swims a large white shark. In the sky above, two translucent figures of a goddess with long flowing hair and a god watch over the voyagers.

IMAGE #2 of 4: Snow-Capped Mountains
Material: 3D metal image
Description: The snow-capped forms of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, the islands two tallest volcanoes, appear as if seen from a great distance. Below the white snow-cap, the mountains appear blue with clouds near the base of the shorter mountain.

IMAGE #3 of 4: Sun
Material: Carved wood
Description: A carved wood image of the sun with facial features—eyes, nose, mouth, and cheeks. This image is located above the snow-capped mountains and to the right of the Polynesian voyagers.

IMAGE #4 of 4: Canoe Plants
Material: Painted tiles
Description: This image is comprised of four separate tiled images of different sizes. Various canoe plants, or plants brought by Polynesian voyagers are shown on the tiled images. At the top left, with a blue sky background is a group of three coconut palm trees. Below and to the right is a small image with a brown background of yellow and brown ipu, gourds, with associated vines and leaves. To the right of the ipu, is a depiction of kō, sugarcane, with its long, thin leaves and sturdy trunk. Below these three images is a compilation of various canoe plants on a brown background. Starting on the left and moving to the right the images are as follows. A coconut palm with dangling coconuts stands tall over groundcover ferns. A dry-set masonry wall with interlocking stones of various shades of black and gray has two yellow ipu with trailing vines on it. To the left of the wall is another image of the kō plant. The image continues to the left with only one row of tiles (the other images are 4 tiles high) and shows the triangular-shaped leaves of kalo, or taro.

Story #2 Pu Kani

IMAGE #1 of 5: Blowing Pū
Material: Carved wood
Description: A square of carved wood depicts a face with lips drawn together as if blowing. Just to the right of the carved square is a carved image of a conch shell, pū.

IMAGE #2 of 5: Aliʻi Nui
Material: Painted tiles
Description: A man in a white malo, loincloth, with traditional geometric patterns stands tall with head turned to the left. A red and yellow feathered cape drapes over his shoulders and yellow feathered mahiole helmet adorns his head, showing that he is an aliʻi or Hawaiian royalty.

IMAGE #3 of 5: Prostrated Commoners
Material: Carved wood, background: worn, rounded lava stones
Description: Three separate carved images of people lay prostrated, face-down with arms extended forward over a background of worn, rounded lava rocks. This image appears below the image of the aliʻi and the figures appear to be prostrating before him.

IMAGE #4 of 5: Aliʻi Entourage
Material: Carved wood
Description: Three separate carved images of men standing tall to the left of the Aliʻi Nui image. Two of the men are holding long spears and the other holds a kāhili, or feathered royal standard. One of the men holding spears holds a conch shell trumpet to his lips, as if he were blowing pū to announce the approach of the aliʻi nui.

IMAGE #5 of 5: Kapu Breaker
Material: Combination of carved wooden images and painted tiles
Description: This scene depicts a man, who presumably broke kapu, standing in the middle of the scene with various warriors pointing in his direction. On the left there are four separate carved wooden images of warriors. The top two appear to be signaling others as to the location of the kapu breaker. One stands with arm extended towards the kapu breaker and blows pū with the other hand. The other stands with one arm raised. The pair below are both standing with one arm extended out towards the kapu breaker and one holding an upright spear. The painted tile image of the kapu breaker is set in the center of the scene. He is wearing a white malo loincloth a looks out of the corner of his eyes at an approaching warrior with spear in-hand and pointed at the kapu breaker. The final portion of the scene (again in painted tiles), on the far-right shows a malo-clad warrior with spear in-hand running toward the kapu breaker. To his right stands an aliʻi with red and yellow cape and helmet accompanied by a kāhili bearer with arm extended towards the warrior as if ordering the warrior to strike.

Story #3: Refuge

IMAGE #1 of 2: Refuge
Material: Painted tiles
Description: A large mural covering the majority of this panel of the wall shows a group of people taking refuge in the puʻuhonua. Men wear malos, loincloths, women wear paʻu, skirts around their waists with bare chests, and children are naked. From left to right the images are as follows. A group of three warrior men with a small dog at their feet. One appears to be injured, holding a walking stick with his arm around the middle warrior, who appears to be helping him walk. The third warrior holds a spear. To the right a woman sits on the ground holding the arm of a toddling child. Another group of warriors stand next to kō plants. One holds a spear, another a small container, and the third, bent over, holds himself up with a walking stick. The last grouping of people on the far righthand side of the mural shows women and children. One child crouches down to play with a chicken. Two other children stand playing nearby. A group of three women watch over the children. A taller woman stands next to this group holding a child in her arm.

IMAGE #2 of 2: Kamehameha and Hawaiʻi Island
Material: Blue painted tile background, relief map of island, and carved wooden image
Description: Sky blue painted tiles form the background of this mural, fully covered the painted yellow wall. A 3D relief map shows the island of Hawaiʻi with Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea volcanoes appearing prominently. Colors range from white at the tops of the volcanoes green below, and brown around the shorelines. To the right of the map is a carved wooden image of Kamehameha the Great in mahiole helmet and lei niho palaoa, a whale tooth pendant. He wears a malo and holds his arms to his side.

Royal Grounds & Puʻuhonua

Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park is currently working on updating facilities to allow for accessible access to the Royal Grounds and Puʻuhonua. In 2016, it came to the attention of park management that the ramp to the Royal Grounds was built too steep to be ADA accessible. For the safety of visitors, rentals of beach wheelchairs have been put on hold until safe, accessible access is available. A project to install an ADA accessible ramp began in August 2020 and completion of the project is slated for 2021. While the park completes this project, the Royal Grounds and Puʻuhonua are accessible via the virtual tour that gives visitors 360-degree views and interpretive information.

Picnic Area

The picnic area is located south of the visitor center parking lot and can be accessed via a short unpaved road. The parking lot is unpaved, hard-packed earth and mostly level. Accessible portable toilets are available for use. Picnic sites are unpaved with coarse coral sand and occasional rocks and roots. Accessible picnic tables are available at each picnic site.

Publications and Media

Park Brochure

The park brochure is available in Braille, large print, a variety of languages, and a text-only audio description is available.

Park Videos

All park-produced videos available in-park or online include closed captions and an audio-described version. When showing in the park amphitheater, the park film always has captions. An audio-described version can be played upon request.

Self-Guided Tour

The text-based self-guided walking tour is available in the park brochure. A cell-phone audio tour of the same area is also available. Information on how to access the audio tour can be found on the Self-Guided Tour page or on signage at the park.

Virtual Tour

A virtual tour of the Royal Grounds and Puʻuhonua is available online, free of charge.

Service Animals

Service animals are allowed in national parks. For a definition of a service animal, please see the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) definition.

For information about animals that do not qualify as service animals, see the Pets page.

A service animal shall be under the control of its handler. A service animal shall have a harness, leash, or other tether, unless either the handler is unable because of a disability to use a harness, leash, or other tether, or the use of a harness, leash, or other tether would interfere with the service animal's safe, effective performance of work or tasks, in which case the service animal must be otherwise under the handler's control (e.g. voice control, signals, or other effective means).

Last updated: September 29, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO BOX 129
Hōnaunau, HI 96726


(808) 328-2326

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