The Big Island—larger than the rest of Hawaii combined—can eat up days of exploration. But be sure to save a full day for Kealakekua Bay and Pu'uhonua o Honounou (poo-oo-ho-newa-o-ho-now-now). This National Historic Site was a 'place of refuge' in ancient Hawaii, where law violators and social miscreants could go to escape harsher punishment. When justice takes the form of a swift club to the brainpan, people run to break into jail, not out of it.
The Hawaiian way of life is on display daily, with canoe building, thatching, net fishing, and other crafts demonstrated for visitors.
The small bay at the park attracts sea turtles. Snorkelers flock to "Two Step," one of the best places to see fish in Hawaii, which is just outside of the park's entrance.
Paths weave though 180 acres, under coco palms and past pools of tranquility.
Hale o Keawe, where the remains of 23 ali'i (chiefs) are interred, is one of the significant historic sites at Pu'uhonua o Honounou. The park's Great Wall dates from the 1500s—10 feet high, 7 feet thick, and about 1,000 feet long. It was built to separate the royals who lived here from the people seeking refuge. One of Kamehameha's wives hid out for a while when she got on the wrong side of the big guy.
Fantastic as it is, the historic park is only one of several visit-worthy spots along the shores of Kealakekua Bay. Also on the hit parade: Captain Cook Monument (where he died and now a site for excellent snorkeling), Kealakekua Historic Park, Manini Beach Park, Ke'ei Village, Pu'uhonua Beach Park, Ki'ilae Village Coastal Trail, the Painted Church, and Kona Pacific Farmers Cooperative (where you can cop a buzz from a free bottomless cup of Kona coffee to fuel the day).
All this may seem like too much, but it fits nicely into a day's outing. Hawaii the Big Island Trailblazer has all the details.