Our last day in Hawaii was in the port of Kona. Kona was a tendering port, so we had to get on tender boats to take us to the pier. A group of 18 of us had a planned private tour of the outskirts of Kona, and we all hopped onto the first tender of the day. It wasn’t long before our tour guides found us and off we went, piled into 2 big vans. We drove out towards the interior of the island, up Highway 190, slowly climbing in altitude.
We passed by Parker Ranch, located up near Waimea. Parker was an American who came to Hawaii in the late 1700’s on a ship. He loved the island so much that he stayed and immersed himself in the culture. He did return to the mainland for a few years, but returned again and befriended King Kamehameha. The King found out that Parker knew a lot about cattle and ranching, and so gave Parker land and some cattle. Parker developed the land and raised cattle. He eventually acquired over 500,000 acres. Today, the last surviving Parker family member has passed away, and a lot of the land has been sold, but there is still a sizable ranch which is run by a trust for the state.
We continued north until we reached a little town called Hawi. Hawi was the birthplace of King Kamehameha. The story of Kamehameha is an interesting one. In the 1700’s, there was a prophecy by one of the kahunas (kahunas were men, usually elders, who “specialized” in certain areas. The most commonly talked about kahunas are the priests and medicine men, and those who could foretell the future. So, around 1750, the kahunas on Hawaii foretold of a chief that would come and unify the islands. They said that this chief would be born under a unique night sky.
In 1758, Halley’s Comet passed overhead, and that same night, a young baby boy was born. He was named Paea. The kahunas knew of this baby being born and went in search of him, but his mother hid him by handing him over to his uncle, who took the baby deep into the area of the seven valleys. The kahunas looked as far as the third valley before giving up. Young Kamehameha lived in hiding for 5 years. He grew up to be a powerful and large warrior. The other key piece that the kahunas said would prove that this great warrior was the true one, was that he would be able to move this huge stone in what is now the town of Hilo. When Kamehameha was grown, he came to the town, and single handedly moved and turned over this stone. The kahunas then declared him the chief.
Kamehameha stood near to 7 feet tall and he was quiet. In fact, his name, Kamehameha means the “lonely one.” He may have been quiet, but he took 17 wives. In his time, both men and women had multiple wives/husbands, so this was not an unusual practice. They married their spouses for different reasons, or purposes - some for procreation, others for good hunters, and other such talents. King Kamehameha did in fact unite all of the islands and brought peace to the entire kingdom. He appointed governors to administer each island and he ruled according to Hawaiian tradition but he did outlaw some of the more severe practices like human sacrifices. He remained king of the islands until his death in 1819. His monarchy that he founded lasted until 1893.
There are 4 statues of King Kamehameha - the first and original statue is located in his birthplace near Hawi, on the Kona side of Hawaii. There is a second one in town in Hilo. The third is located on Oahu, in front of the iconic “Five-0” building in Honolulu. And the 4th one is located in Washington D.C., in the Capitol building!
We stopped and had lunch in the town of Hawi and then continued on our drive, heading this time along the coast back down to Kailua/Kona where the ship was docked. We visited Lapakahi State Historical Park, which sets aside portions of a discovered village that existed over 700 years ago, on the leeward coastline of Kohala. The village sat on rolling hills and gulches, protected in a cove from the strong winds. The soil was rich and provided for good crops, and the sea provided a bounty of food. There are remnants of thatched houses, burial site, a well, storage house for canoes, and a mug, which is a religious site where prayers and offerings were made to the gods.
Our final stop was at Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site. Thankfully I remembered to bring my National Parks Passport book with me, as I was able to get it stamped both at the Volcanoes National Park the day before and this park today. The park protects and houses the Temple on the Hill of the Whale. It was one of the last major sacred temples built in Hawaii and was constructed in 1790 and 1791 under the direction of King Kamehameha. At this point in time, the King had conquered most of the islands, but not all.
A prophet told his aunt that he would conquer all of the islands if he built a large temple (heiau) dedicated to his family war god Ku atop Pu’ukohola (Whale Hill). So the king set to work. Thousands of men formed a 20 mile long chain and hand carried the rocks from the seaside to the top of Pu’ukohola. Even Kamehameha labored with the men. Kamehameha then invited his cousin, who he knew to be his opposition, to come for a ceremony. His cousin came willingly to what would be his doom. When he arrived, there was a bit of a scuffle and the cousin was killed, along with all of his companions, by Kamehameha’s men. His body was carried to the heiau and offered as a sacrifice to the war god Ku. The death of the cousin ended all opposition and the prophecy became true. The park tells the story and a most of the temple remains today and is available to visit and view.
View from ship of Kailua/Kona
Under the banyan tree
One of our first views from high atop the island
Out by the 7 valleys. Kind of reminded me of the Cliffs of Mohr, in Ireland
The original statue of King Kamehameha
Snort enjoyed the tour as well
A photograph in the restaurant where we ate lunch of lava flow from a few years ago
I'm always game to try out local libations.
Relics from Lapakahi State Historical Park
Snort with the Temple Kamehameha built for his God of war