Ancient polynesian tiki wooden craving statues in Kailua Kona, Hawaii
Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, considered one of Hawaii's most sacred sites, is a 40-minute drive south from Kailua Kona. The site was formerly royal grounds and a "place of refuge" for ancient lawbreakers. Take a self-guided walking tour amidst the restored, centuries-old temple and fishponds alongside the ocean and soak up the history.
Petroglpyhs found in Kailua Kona, Hawaii
Visit the 223-acre Puako Petroglyph Archaeological Preserve and see more than 3,000 ancient kii pohaku, Hawaiian petroglyphs. Some of these images carved into lava rock date back to 1200 AD. It's thought the carvings of people, canoes, turtles and various symbols represent births and other important events.
Hulihee Palace, built in 1838 as a summer vacation getaway home for Hawaiian royalty, stands right in the heart of Kailua-Kona. You can wander through the restored palace, which now operates as a museum with beautiful koa furniture and other ornaments and artifacts from the late 19th century, when King Kalakaua and Queen Kapiolani ruled.
Kona cuisine is all about fresh fish — try the poke (pronounced po-kay), a raw fish salad served as an appetizer in Hawaiian cuisine. Traditional forms include aku (an oily tuna) and he'e (octopus). You can also find modern takes on the traditional flavors and products with your Hawaii cruise, like wok-charred local ahi tuna with wasabi soy sauce or roasted lamb from nearby Kahua Ranch.
Walkable downtown Kailua-Kona has many boutiques and galleries where you'll find unique jewelry, Hawaiian quilts, carved koa wood bowls and other unique and handcrafted items by Hawaii artisans. At the Kona Farmers Market (Wednesdays through Sundays), you can find macadamia nuts, local honeys and jams, Hawaiian crafts and Kona coffee.
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