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Our History

Experience Hawaiian History & Culture atOur Big Island Historical Site


Courtyard King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel is on one of the most historic sites in all of Hawaii. King Kamehameha the Great, the leader credited with uniting all of Hawaii’s islands under one ruler, established his royal residence adjacent to the current site of his namesake hotel. King Kamehameha's residence included all of Kamakahonu, the bay around which the hotel is focused. Besides homes, his residence also had numerous fishponds and gardens.

Here on the Big Island, Kamehameha the Great ruled over all the islands until his passing on May 8, 1819. Indeed, our Kona hotel owes quite a debt to our island's rich history and culture.

Ahu'ena Heiau

During King Kamehameha's reign, he rebuilt Ahu'ena Heiau, a temple dedicated to Lono, who was the Hawaiian God of peace, agriculture, and prosperity. Reconstructed between 1812 and 1813, the Ahu'ena Heiau is on the register of National Historic Landmarks as one of Hawaii's most important historic sites.

In the Heiau, or ancient temple, the dominant temple image was of Kalaemoku, a chief deified for his healing of acute diseases. Carved upon Kalaemoku's helmet was a perched bird. Other images in the Heiau were of ancestral gods with whom Kamehameha maintained close rapport for the benefit of his kingdom.

Members of Kamehameha's council frequently met with him at the Ahu'ena Heiau for ritual prayers. After his death, the council met here to instruct Kamehameha's young heir in the ways of wise government.

Hawaiian Artifacts & Decor

To immerse our guests in authentic Hawaiian culture, our Big Island hotel showcases many exquisite and historic artifacts depicting life in the 18th Century. Among many of Courtyard King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel's treasures are a fascinating mural, portraits of Hawaiian royalty, displays of domestic and agricultural artifacts, and much more.

Our Hawaiian Mural

Our gorgeous Hawaiian mural greets you the minute you step into our lobby area. The large and compelling mural was painted by late renowned artist Herb Kane and depicts Kamehameha, dressed in a simple kapa wrap, in conversation with his son Liholiho, the heir to the throne who ruled as Kamehameha II.

In the painting to the left sits Queen Ka'ahumanu, a favorite wife of Kamehameha and champion of the missionaries. Without her assistance in the guise of Christianity, the missionaries would not have landed in Hawaii and been allowed to stay. A formidable person, she became the most prominent woman in politics and was named Kuhinanui, or Esteemed Regent, to Kamehameha II and Kamehameha III. Embodied with much power in her own right, Ka'ahumanu successfully maneuvered to acquire even more power. 

Hotel guests can also admire the 40 paintings in the breezeway, also by renowned artist Herb Kane.

Portraits of Hawaiian Royalty

In addition to portraits of King Kamehameha I and Queen Ka'ahumanu, the Big Island hotel boasts 20 beautiful paintings of other Hawaiian royalty, including King Kamehameha II and his wife Queen Kamamalu, King Kamehameha III and his wife Queen Kalama, King Kamehameha IV and his wife Queen Emma, and the bachelor king Kamehameha V.

Ahu'ula (Treasured Feather Cape)

Bird catching was an esteemed profession in old Hawaii, and the feathers gathered were offered as tax payments to rulers. Red and yellow feathers were especially prized, though not easily acquired, as the birds were small in size. Feathered cloaks like this one became symbols of rank and status, and were worn into battle by royalty.

Mahi'ole (Feather Helmet)

Unique to Hawaii, feather-covered helmets completed the feather capes worn by the highest-ranking leaders. While the helmets of leaders of lesser rank lacked feathers, they were often adorned with ornaments and woven decorations.

Lei Hulu (Feather Wreaths)

Lei hulu, prized ornaments of high-ranking women of ancient Hawaii, were worn around the neck or head. Those made of yellow feathers were the most valuable.

Lei Nio Palaoa (Whale Tooth Pendant)

Worn only by the highest-ranking leaders during occasions of great importance, Lei Nio Palaoa was made from the ivory teeth of sperm whales. They were carved into the shape of a tongue and fastened by a single cord of human hair wound many times to form a comfortable fit.

War Weapons

You’ll see a great collection of war weapons on display at our hotel, such as war clubs made from wood, bone and a combination of wood and stone. A few examples include wooden short spears, daggers, tripping weapons and slings, and long spears.

Ancient Hula Instruments

Music is very important to the Hawaiian culture, which is why we also have a variety of ancient hula instruments for you to view. These include feather gourd rattles called Uli Uli, a bamboo pipe, gourd drum, musical bow, nose flute, gourd whistle, shell trumpet, stone castanets, treadle board, split bamboo, and hula sticks.

Domestic & Agricultural Artifacts

Another part of our historical display is a cross-section of an imu (underground oven) and a lu'au, digging tool. Also included are examples of stone poi pounders, two- and three-pronged fishing spears, ancient fishnets, and fishhooks.

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