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“Sacred Stones” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Pu'ukohola Heiau

Pu'ukohola Heiau
62-3601 Kawaihae Road, Kawaihae, Island of Hawaii, HI 96743
808 882-7218 ext. 1011
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Ranked #6 of 12 things to do in Kawaihae
Activities: Hiking
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Attraction details
Owner description: A stone temple built by King Kamehameha in 1719.
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Top Contributor
171 reviews 171 reviews
66 attraction reviews
Reviews in 105 cities Reviews in 105 cities
270 helpful votes 270 helpful votes
“Sacred Stones”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 30, 2013

I can certainly appreciate why native Hawaiians would give this National Historic Park the highest rating. However, as a haole I am forbidden from entering the two temples that are the part of the reason that this is a must-visit while on the Big Island, so I will never experience the park as a native Hawaiian might. Even so, the park is so rich in history and what you can see is so interesting that anyone with the least interest in Hawaiian history should make a point of setting aside an hour so to visit. The site is located just off the main island highway about half an hour north of the Kona airport and the drive through the mostly barren black lava fields is enlivened by the hundreds if not thousands of white lava -for lack of a better word - graffiti monuments along both sides of the road. Trying to read them is distracting as is the question - where the heck did they get the white rocks from in this sea of black?

Almost certainly the most famous Hawaiian of all time is not Don Ho or Steve McGarrett, but King Kamehameha the First. He was the Hawaiian superman who was able to unite all of Hawaiian islands into one realm which for an agonizingly short period of time was a sovereign nation recognized by all the major powers of the time. He was a native of the North Kohala coast and his career started at Pu'ukohola as a result of a prediction by a noted sage who advised him that if he built a great temple on this site he would one day rule all of Hawaii.

The temple was built and remains the prime attraction at the park even though you can't go inside. Kamehameha's first task was to become supreme ruler of the Big Island which in the late 1700's was embrioled in chaos. In order to consecrate the new temple he invited his cousin Keoua, his chief rival to the ceremony and promptly had him killed as an offering to the war god Ku. Apparently it worked as one by one the other islands fell under Kamehaneha's command until in 1810 he ruled them all. Like Augustus, Kamehameha was ruthless in his ascent to power, but once he held it he was a just ruler who brought many beneficials change and a sense of national unity to the Hawaiian people that still exists. As an interesting aside, the bad feelings that arose after Keoua was killed lingered for over 200 years until a healing and forgiveness ceremony was held on the site in 1991

In terms of visting there is a short circular trail that starts at the architecturally beautiful visitor center that is made of the lava stones similar to those in the two temples on site. Aside from Kamehameha's impressive temple there is an older one that he converted into a fort. It is not much to look at, but the new one is. If you have ever been to Newgrange in Ireland which is almost 5000 years older you might see a resemblance.

Also on the tour are stops at a viewing rock where kings long before Kamehameha would sit and watch for the reef sharks and whales that are frequently seen off shore. To native Hawaiians sharks are sacred creatures and they would never harm one - too bad the rest of us aren't as wise. While I didn't see any sharks the ranger told me that he saw one that morning and that their dorsal fins are seen almost every day.

All in all you won't regret stopping here for a visit - and it's free.

Visited March 2013
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51 reviews from our community

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English first
Kahalu'u, Hawaii
11 reviews 11 reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
“Chicken skin experience!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 2, 2013

As a native Hawaiian visiting Pu'ukohola for the 1st time in my life and walking on the same land that the Great King Kamehameha walked and lived was just an incredible "chicken skin" experience! Definitely worth the stop and taking the time to learn about this National Historic Site. Beautiful views of the ocean...there was a pod of whales in the near distance putting on a spectacular show for us, the kind you would see at Sea World! The park rangers were kind, extremely helpful and knowledgeable. The walk is easy and the app download that guides you through the park was very informative as we stopped at each sight to listen and learn. All people of Hawaiian ancestry must take the time to visit Pu'ukohola and learn a part of our history. Highly recommend this to all visitors coming to the Big Island, it is a piece of History that you will treasure for a lifetime!

Visited February 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
West Vancouver, B.C.
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
4 attraction reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
29 helpful votes 29 helpful votes
“Sacred Hawaii-Temple on the Hill of the Whale”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 31, 2013

This National Historic Site is a great stop on its own or on the way to Hawi. There is a trail winding by the Temple and along the water by the other sites-the Stone Leaning Post and submerged heiau. The ocean views are great and you might even see a whale or black tipped reef shark in the bay. The Temple on the Hill of the Whale itself (built by Kamehameha in 1790-91) is a major pre-contact sacred structure and is still used for cultural events today.

You can get a very informative brochure at the visitor centre or better yet, time your visit with the Park Ranger’s presentation. Our Ranger gave us an informative overview of Hawaiian history and the significance of the site in particular, along with visuals and archeological items.

Visited January 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Waikoloa, Hawaii
Top Contributor
115 reviews 115 reviews
31 attraction reviews
Reviews in 38 cities Reviews in 38 cities
64 helpful votes 64 helpful votes
“Easy to miss”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 11, 2013

We have managed to drive past this on many occasions, on multiple visits to the island. It is an interesting place to visit and to get a sense of Hawaiian history. The rangers are helpful and knowledgeable. There is a self guiding walk you can take to see the sites. You don't need to spend much time here, but if you want to know more about the island history, you should stop here!

Visited January 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Top Contributor
96 reviews 96 reviews
42 attraction reviews
Reviews in 34 cities Reviews in 34 cities
38 helpful votes 38 helpful votes
“Puukohola Heiau is worth the stop”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 30, 2012

This bit of Hawaiian history is easy to miss even though it is adjacent to Spencer Beach.
we drove right past the Heiau going north to Hawi and coming back south too. from the visitors center you are looking at the side of the Heiau so you have to walk up 50 or so yards to get a better perspective, yeah the dont let you go int to actual ceremonial structure, but they don't let you go climbing on stonehenge either.
it is used for traditional religious ceremonies.
the rocks are supposed to have been passed from person to person along a human chain that stretched from the north end of the island. some of them are pretty big.
Just stop by its part of the islands history

Visited November 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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