Along the Westerly side of the Island named Hawaii there is a monument to Capt Cook, south of Kahlua and Kona on the road to the volcanos via the Hawaii Belt highway. According to the inscription the white marble monument marks the place of his death. This destination can only be approached by water, or via land over severe terrain with no roadways or clearly marked paths. Local legend says that the Hawaiians killed Cook for trespassing on royal lands that only the king and his extended family could step foot upon. Is the legend true? I don’t know, but in the adjoining cove is a place that’s named “place of refuge.”

Image of the place of refuge

Local custom says that if you were guilty of a crime against the king, or had broken kapu (religious taboos) once you placed a foot on land at the place of refuge you were safe. Of course the cove between these two points was heavily guarded by armed men with orders to kill any trespassers, and the waters filled with hungry sharks waiting for anyone foolish enough to fall into the water. Unless you were an exceptionally strong swimmer the odds of reaching landfall weren’t very good.

The downside was that once you made landfall you couldn’t leave. You’d have your life but would effectively be held prisoner due to the inherent dangers of leaving being identical to the ones faced upon arrival. I suppose that we broke kapu twice, because we visited both places in 2010, and dared to return in 2012.

As before there were large tatoo’ed Hawaiian men waiting at the landing between coves, but our locals were gracious and friendly, assisting us in launching out kayak regardless of our intended destination. Our only caveat was that we must not land our craft at the Captain Cook monument to prevent damage to the coral and plant life present at that location. To say the area is pristine is a gross understatement, although it is plagued with local dive boats and snorkelers, the admonition to preservation is considered kapu and strictly monitored.

To be continued…