Pu‘uhonua o Honaunau Cultural Festival, 2011

As the famous song goes, everybody loves a hukilau. But how many of you have actually seen a real hukilau in person?

This year’s festival marks the park’s 50th anniversary.

Visitors to Pu‘uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park will have the opportunity to witness the ways and lifestyles of Old Hawai‘i, when the park presents its annual Cultural Festival on June 24, 25 and 26. The weekend event will showcase traditional practices such as weaving, lei making, medicinal plant usage and musical instrument making, followed by the grand finale: a demonstration of the traditional Hawaiian fishing method known as the hukilau.

Hukilau rope, draped from coconut trees.

The word hukilau literally means to pull (huki) with leaves (lau). A community event, a hukilau takes place in shallow water with a 200-foot rope that is strung with hundreds of leaves that dangle in the water. Participants enter the water while holding the rope, circling the reef fish by pulling the rope underwater toward the shore like a broom — all the while slapping the water and shouting, “huki everybody!” Although the old-time hukilau traditionally involved a few dozen people, up to 100 people might participate at the park’s annual event, just for the fun of it.

In reality, the practice of hukilau was banned in Hawai‘i in the 1950s because of the enormous amount of fish and marine life that can be caught. When the National Park hosts its annual hukilau demonstration at Kioniele Cove, as it has done for 35 years, any fish caught are released back to the ocean.

Ancient temple (heiau) at Pu‘uhonua o Honaunau.

This year’s cultural festival celebration marks the park’s 50th anniversary as a unit of the National Park Service. Located in South Kona, the park is just a 30-minute drive from Holualoa Inn.

Your Holualoa Inn ohana is available to help you plan your day and suggest other points of interest along the way. A romantic Hawaiian vacation awaits guests of our tropical bed-and-breakfast retreat.

Innkeeper Holualoa Inn