City of Refuge | Pu’uhonua O Honaunau

Pu’uhonua o H┼Źnaunau National Historical Park is located in Honaunau near the famous snorkeling location known as Two Step Beach. Pu’uhonua means city of refuge and this park is a Big Island Historical sites attraction that is a must see. In old Hawai’i, if a sacred law (kapu) was broken the punishment was death. If one could avoid their pursuers and make it to a pu’uhonua their life would not be taken. 

As you enter the park the great lava rock wall rises up marking the boundaries between the royal grounds and the sanctuary. Several ki’i (wooden tikis) surround the Hale o Keawe temple which contains the bones of the chiefs that infuse the area with their power or mana (a sacred supernatural force power).

Why we like City of Refuge

  • Historic site
  • Friendly and informative park rangers
  • Nice park map
  • Bathrooms
  • Souvenir store
  • Bottle water filling station

There is a dirt road at the far end of the parking lot that goes behind the visitors center and comes out at a great beach area. No snorkeling is permitted here but it is a great place to spend the evening and watch the sunset. Bring a picnic or some food to throw on a built in public grill (bring your own charcoal). There are beautiful tide pools to explore and a walking trail that goes approximately 5 miles to Ho’okena Beach Park.

Why we like this area

  • Great sunset views
  • Built in grills
  • Picnic tables
  • Garbage cans
  • Hiking trails
  • Port-o-potty’s
  • Tide pools

Park hours are 7:00 am to 15 minutes before sunset. To learn more visit

Gallery of City of Refuge

Directions to City of Refuge