Get to know Hawaii’s fabled history up close and personal. Most of us don’t learn much about Hawaiian culture and heritage at school, and this is your chance. Find out how the royals lived, walk through ancient temples beautifully preserved, learn about native Hawaiians’ way of life, customs, traditions and rituals at the Big Island’s many compelling historic sites, parks and preserves. Stand where battles were fought, lost and won, and see where the first westerner set foot on the Islands.
PUUHONUA O HONAUNAU NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK
Meet the royal Hawaiians — or at least get fascinating glimpses of how they once lived. In South Kona, this is a 180-acre park, once royal grounds, as well as a refuge for lawbreakers lucky enough to make it past the daunting black lava shoreline and seek asylum. See one of Hawaii’s most sacred historic spots on a self-guided walking tour: the immaculately restored Great Wall, kii (larger than life wooden carvings of gods), thatched work house, fish ponds and temple (heiau) housing the remains of the alii (chiefs), one of the park’s oldest remnants. Visit at sunset if you can.Learn More
If you’re going to snorkel and scuba dive or kayak off the resort, do it here. This clear turquoise bay near Kailua-Kona is teeming with sealife — and considered the best snorkeling in all of Hawaii. Add to that the abundance of archaeological and historic sites, and it’s a day trip in paradise. Swim past spinner dolphins, healthy coral reefs, graceful manta rays and schools of colorful tropical fish. In addition to an ancient temple built for human sacrifice, Hikiau Heiau, see where Captain James Cook, the first westerner to arrive on the Islands, landed in 1778 — and was infamously killed just a year later.Learn More
KALOKO HONOKOHAU NATIONAL HISTORIC PARK
This history-filled coastal park situated on the lava flow has it all — petroglyphs, temples and historic settlements — plus it’s conveniently close the airport, making for a perfect departure day excursion. Take a guided tour or sign up for a special program spotlighting the engineering prowess of native Hawaiians. Explore cleverly constructed kaloko (fishponds) and four ahupuaa (mountain-to-sea land divisions in the traditional format), watching out for honu, Hawaiian green sea turtles, seals and native birdlife.Learn More