Big Island Historic Parks

In 1995, Lenny and I went to the Big island of Hawaii for the first time. We, of course, had booked our flights and lodging months in advance. But our government decided to forego a budget. Therefore the national parks were closed. We managed to walk a few minor trails in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park but never really knew about the historic parks.

Temple in PUHE

I’m making up for lost time and opportunity and dragging my family to the three historical parks on the west coast of the Big Island.

Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site protects a Hawaiian temple, one of the major sacred structure built in Hawaii before Europeans came.

It also introduces visitors to Kamehameha, the warrior, who united all the Hawaiian Islands under his rule, of course. Besides a half-mile loop through the protected area, there’s not much to do.

Staff at PUHE

But a poster in the visitor center caught my eye. There was a picture of every staff member that works in this park – from park ranger to the folks to manage the bookstore.

Now, what if the Smokies did this?

South of Kona on the Big Island lies the Captain Cook monument. Captain James Cook (1728-1779) was a British explorer and a navy man. He was the first European to visit the Hawaiian islands.

First the Polynesians welcomed him but by Cook’s third visit, he was no longer the “White God”. Tensions arose and he was killed by Hawaiians villagers near present-day Kona.

Captain Cook monument

In the late 1800s, a monument was put up on the bay where Cook met his demise. Several other groups have put up plaques in his honor. This website explains how to find the trailhead.

You can only get there by boat or by a steep 1.8 mile trail. On the way, we saw goats, a lost cow and several weasels. Most people who hike down plan to spend the day snorkeling but we just wanted to do the hike.

I don’t know why this monument isn’t more accessible. After all, Cook was a pretty famous explorer in the Pacific.

Maybe in the late 1800s, there was still animosity toward Europeans or maybe no one really cares.

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