Heiau (Ancient Hawaiian temples) were places of worship that were central to Hawaiian religious beliefs. From the heiau, the kahuna (priest) communicated with the gods and advised the
Ali'i (chief). Pu'ukohola Heiau was constructed for ceremonies related to war. Many heiau once existed throughout the Hawaiian Islands, but their use ceased with the destruction of the kapu (taboo) system in 1819. You will find many preserved and reconstructed Heiau on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Pu'ukohola Heiau National Historic Site
Built between 1790-91 by Kamehameha I, Pu'ukohola Heiau displays the skill of chiefs, men, women, and children under the astute leadership of Kamehameha I. This temple is thought to be one of the
most sacred structures built before Westerners altered the traditional Hawaiian value system. With the assistance of two stranded European sailors, John Young and Isaac Davis, Kamehameha I extended his reign over all Hawaiian Islands. The remains of John Young’s homestead may be toured at the site. Check out the National Park Service website.
Pu'ukohola Heiau is situated on a hill facing the Kawaihae Harbor. The temple was constructed to incur the favor of the war god Kuka'ilimoku. An interpretive trail begins at the visitor center and leads to the ruins of Pu'ukoholā.
The access road to the visitor center is located at 62-3601 Kawaihae Road, off of Route 270, one quarter mile (.4km) north of the Highway 19 intersection. The park is open daily, 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. all year. Phone: (808) 882-7218.
Pu'uhonua o Honaunau Place of Refuge
This is a sanctuary of Hawaii’s past where traditional Hawaiian lifestyle, ancient temples, and ki’i (wooden images) are preserved. Today, the park continues as a sanctuary for visitors seeking a peaceful place and as a safe haven for all of the native wildlife living here. At the Place of Refuge, there is a lot to see including the preserved ancient Hawaiian village, the Heiau, and the 1871 Trail. Visit our Honaunau page.
Next to Kailua Pier is Ahuena Heiau, a Hawaiian temple built in 800 AD. This fully-restored temple, directly behind the King Kamehameha Hotel, is possibly the best example of a Hawaiian place of sacrifice. The thatched building was the King's retreat, its doorway concealed by a small guardhouse where King Kamehameha could keep watch over Kailua Bay. The heiau consists of a stone wall, some other stones and a few modest grass buildings. Considered a Hawaiian holy site, no one can enter the building.
Lapakahi State Historical Park
This State Park is located north of Kawaihae, and was once an ancient Hawaiian fishing village. This fine historical Park offers lessons in Hawaiian history and archaeology as well as a fine marine preserve to explore. In addition to a scenic beach and snorkeling, Lapakahi State Historical Park offers a glimpse of replicas of native Hawaiian cultural items, such as old huts and ruins of building foundations--possibly of temples (heiaus. Open daily 8am - 4pm)