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Although not at first evident to visitors and new residents, the Big Island has a fascinating natural and cultural history. Over the past 600 or so years West Hawaii in particular has been a focal point for numerous key events in the history of the State.
These have included: the development of a highly-complex and structured Hawaiian civilization; the site of Captain James Cook’s grand reception and later his untimely death; the arrival of the first Christian missionaries; the launching pad for a military campaign that melded the Island chain into one kingdom; and finally, the place where Hawaiian royalty first broke the old ancient Polynesian kapu religious system, precipitating cultural changes that would spin the island nation into the modern era.
The Kona-Kohala Coast has also been the birthplace and home to a number of history-making individuals over the centuries, from King Kamehameha the Great who united the Islands under a single rule, to Ellison Onizuka, the State’s first astronaut.
Numerous historical/cultural sites and museums throughout West Hawaii provide a perspective on developments that are the legacy of present-day Hawaii. These range from Hawaiian archaeological sites such as Mookini Heiau in Kohala to graceful Hulihe’e Palace and Mokuaikaua Church in Kailua-Kona to Waimea’s Parker Ranch to the modernistic Ellison Onizuka Space Museum at Kona International Airport.