Biggest Ball of String

Our road trip adventures, quirky roadside attractions, generally in the United States or Canada (and with occasional travel off the mainland into Hawaii, Alaska, Caribbean and Europe – so far)

Place of Refuge, Punalu’u Bakery, and Mark Twain

on July 14, 2013

Between Punalu’u Beach and South Point, you will pass through Naʻālehu.  It’s a tiny little town of around 1000 peopleIs this Heiau? and one main street that runs through it.

TripAdvisor says “3 things to do in Naʻālehu.  And, without looking, this is my list of 3 things to do there:

1) The Punalu’u Bakery – I would drive all the way to the other side of the Island for Punalu’u Bread, BUT now you can just buy it in the local grocery store.  Still, it’s worth going to the actual bakery, which not only has the best bread EVER (along with samples) but just happens to be the southern most bakery in the United States.

Punaluu BakeryYou can buy purple (taro), pink (guava) or yellow/cream-colored (traditional) bread or swirled combinations.  You can buy mixes to make your own at home later.  (At the Maku’u Farmer’s Market, I had a Polish sausage on a Punalu’u Guava bun.)

It’s a bakery, so they also have cookies, and other desserts, but we really love the bread. (Oh, there’s also a quirky gift shop there, too.)

2) Shaka Restaurant – it’s Claim-to-Fame is that it’s the Southernmost Bar in the United States. But, Peter says it also hasShaka Restaurant the coldest beer he’s ever had! It’s a good place to eat – pub food – yummy fish-n-chips, macaroni and cheese – that kind of food.

3) Mark Twain‘s Tree – Mark Twain’s tree is actually in Waiohinu, a town 2 1/2 miles north of Naʻālehu.  He visited the town in 1866 and supposedly planted a Monkey Pod Tree. THAT tree blew down in 1957, but a shoot lives on and grew into what is now there, on the side of the road.

Mark Twain Monkey Pod TreeIf you follow the Hawaii Belt Road (Hwy 11) clockwise from Mark Twain’s Tree, 37.5 miles later, you will arrive at the Place of Refuge Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park.

This was a place that “protected the kapu (sacred laws) breaker, and civilians during the time of war and the defeated warriors”, according to the description on the Place of Refuge website.  You would have to run for your life, literally, and if you made it to the Place of Refuge, you could gain asylum.

There are two main areas – the Pu’uhonua and the Royal Grounds.  The Royal Grounds housed the chiefly residences and ceremonial structures. The Pu’uhonua IS the actual Place of Refuge and was sacred (it is still considered sacred, so there are some very specific rules about how to behave while there.)

The Pu’uhonua included:

  • the ‘Āle‘ale‘a Heiau (a “heiau” is a Hawaiian temple – all that I’ve seen are stone platforms made from lava rock Hale o Keawe– they are easily recognized and still considered sacred, so you canNOT walk on them…I don’t know what ‘Āle‘ale‘a means…?)
  • the Hale o Keawe (this is reconstructed – the original was built around 1650 but has that was a long time ago! It originally held the bones of many chiefs, including Kamehameha I’s son) (*By the way, Hale o Keawe means: House of Keaweʻīkekahialiʻiokamoku. Keaweʻīkekahialiʻiokamoku was great-grandfather of King Kamehameha I, who was the first king of the Kingdom of Hawaii…)
  • and Konane (a game similar to checkers, and also chess..sometimes, the chiefs would use this game to settle disputes).Konane

Once upon a time, apparently, Queen Ka’ahumanu had to swim there after a fight with her husband (King Kamehameha I).   She got caught, but made up with the King, so… all’s well that ends well.

There were once many Places of Refuge, but now this is one of the few that has lasted… There is a fee to get it – $5 per vehicle for 7 days!

There’s aLOT to see and lots of history. Just go and get the guide from the National Park Service and see all you can see.

Whittington Park There is a view that can’t be missed!  Between Punalu’u Beach and Punalu’u Bakery in Naʻālehu (5.3 miles from Beach and 3 miles from the Bakery) is one of the most breathtaking views on the Island.  It’s of Whittington Beach Park (Honuapo).

Once upon a time, it was a thriving sugar cane town, but then a tsunami (in 1946) destroy the town and left behind just remnants of what used to be the shipping pier.  That’s exactly what it looks like.  It’s beautiful and deWhittington Park areasolate. It looks like a scene from a movie.

Pull over and take the picture – don’t forget!

Sunday – we continue on to see where Captain Cook met his demise.

http://pahoahi.tripod.com/kona/refuge.htm
http://gohawaii.about.com/od/bigisland/ss/puuhonua_4.htm

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