If you want the “Hawaii movie experience” you need to stay on the Kona side. The white sands, the warm aqua waters with big, yet gentle waves, the dolphins and fun snorkleing…Hilo was definitely not that. It was like a completely different island, just an hour’s drive away. Yes, that means Big Island is bigger than Rhode Island. And Delaware. Combined.
If you do happen to find yourself on the Kona side and want to see a bit of how it used to be, head over to Pu’uhonua O Hōnaunau park.
The entrance was a bit tough to traverse, but once in the parking area, I was able to truly enjoy “Hawaii” that was closer to the movies than anything else. There were lava walls, statues, huts, tools, boats – everything to take in about how the natives lived so many years ago.
The statues carved from what looked like solid tree trunks were impressive. I am guessing they are protection gods, since some were in the water, facing the water, and so forth. The amount of detail, especially given how they are so exposed to the elements, is really something to behold.
I am not sure what the large triangle hut is, but it was too big and exposed to live in, so I assumed it was a shelter for a boat. Cue Moana song. It’s okay. I’ll wait while you sing along.
Inside one of the (actual) huts, there was an example of how the native dressed and lived on a day to day basis. I’m sure they did tons with coconuts, because they were EVERYWHERE. I’m also pretty sure there were gigantic edible mulberries, but seeing as I only had a few days left in my vacation, I didn’t want to end up in Poison Control while trying to channel my inner hunter-gatherer.
My favorite was walking along the beaches to more secluded spots. The sand is HOT, you sink like crazy (hello, leg day!), and it’s a really killer walk along the shore to get to various parts of the park. Some of it is over lava rock, so be careful because if you slip, it will hurt. Ask me how I know.
After a slightly treacherous trek, the beach narrowed to about four feet wide. It was going to be either sharp rocks or a thicket. Why not ford ahead? Well, in these historical parts, you have to be cognizant that there might be other visitors. Like, big, thousand-year-old ones that stare at you like you’re taking up their sun. If you do meet a turtle, it’s best to snap a really quick photo if you can, from a safe distance and keep walking. They were here first, after all.