We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Remote but worth it”
Review of Mookini Heiau

Mookini Heiau
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: Spiritual place thought to be the birthplace of King Kamehameha.
Reviewed May 17, 2011

Don't go there with your regular 2WD rental car. Well, you can drive most of the dirt road, but at some point you might need to leave the car parked on the side. We did. And walked about 15 mins to the Heiau, then from there continued on to Kamehameha's birthplace as well.
But don't do it in midday sun. We got a late start, and ended up there around noon. It was brutal, since that area is extremely windy and dry and we had the dirtiest feet and legs afterwards! Take lots of water, slather on sunblock, bring a fruit snack, cover up completely incl. wide-brimmed hat, and don't forget your camera.
This place is remote, but well worth it. So is Kamehameha's birthplace. If you love history, anthropology, culture, ruins, don't miss this, no matter what the circumstances.

1  Thank Drezdany
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review
Reviews (25)
There are newer reviews for Mookini Heiau
See the most recent reviews
Traveler rating
Traveler type
Time of year

21 - 25 of 25 reviews

Reviewed March 6, 2011

Read the history elsewhere. I'll tell you how to get there. Directions are nearly impossible to find. It takes patience to find this heiau. DO NOT ATTEMPT AFTER A RAIN OR W/O HIGH FOUR WHEEL VEHICLE. The road is deeply rutted in spots but w the right car you'll have no trouble. There are no markings at all for this site. We wondered if this was at the request of the Hawaiin peoples.

To find the heiau travel north from the Kona area on route 19. Take 270 where the road turns left heading towards Hawi. Right before Hawi, watch for the sign for Upolu Airport - turn left. When you reach the airport, turn left (west) and drive about 2 miles. There is a very old, poor heiau sign - it's up the hill but not a difficult walk. Driving further is the birthplace of Kamehameha I.

6  Thank DPD123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 22, 2011

I hesitate to write this review because part of the experience of visiting the Mo'okini Heiau is the solitude that you feel there. I would hate to see it overrun by tourist who have no respect for ancient things. Being there is a powerful experience no matter what your religion. There is a quietness there with just the sound of the wind and waves that is overwhelming. This is not a place for people who are not really interested in the Hawaiian culture.
If you go, wear good walking shoes, no flip flops and take water. When we visited the heiau, we parked at Upolu Airport and walked from there. You could possibly drive part of the way, but once you get past a small house, the mud puddles are large and ancient. By this, I mean that there are beaten foot paths around the puddles. The only vehicle that I saw that made it all of the way was a 4wheel drive truck and it was covered in mud. The mud holes will definitely eat a small rental car. I would definitely suggest walking the 1-2 miles in just to take in the sounds and sights once you get out of the ruts in the road. There are 2 road signs along the way to guide you.
Once you get to the Mo'okini Heiau, you go up a small hill to the actual heiau. Once at the site, there are no interpretive signs to explain what you are seeing. I had done some reading from Big Island guidebooks before I went, but I wish that I had done more. I later asked the cultural advisors at the hotel to explain many of the things to me. I am still looking for more information.
I have seen Stonehenge and Chichen Itza and found the Mo'Okini Heiau to be just as impressive in its own way. The walls are very impressive. The quiet solitude of the place is even more so. If you visit, please treat it with respect and reverence.

10  Thank teachertraveladdict
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 5, 2010

One of the most powerful experiences I've had was on the north coast of Hawaii, at Mo'okini Heiau, a Luakini or place where tens of thousands of Hawaiians were sacrificed to the war god Ku.

A large, barren, stark place, seemingly cold on the otherwise warm island of Hawaii, not many visit the place. The ones that do usually go away differently than when they came.

It isn't hard to imagine the large central stone, brought from Tahiti in the 11th century, as a sacrificial alter. That's what it is.

A palpable feeling of human misery and despair, wild, transparent visions of aerial souls and sacrificial orgies, and the cold, hollow, silent screeching of the murdered. Even with the lonely vista of the Alenuihaha Channel with its view of Maui, you won't be tempted to stay for a picnic lunch.

2  Thank SnowWizard
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 8, 2008

Everyone who visits Mookini heiau comes away with their own unique experience.

My entire 3 week trip to the Big island was all about visiting the heiau. I had done a lot of research about the place, read all the factual history, learned that the kahuna nui has a non profit organization, and was so moved by its history, I became a donor.

When she called to thank me, we had a long discussion about her kupuna [ancestors], the heiau and its history.

I told her I would be visiting on the third Saturday of September to help weed the grounds.

She told me to call her a week before I arrived on the Big Island. I did and found there was an illness in the family, she had caught it, too and could not meet me. They were no longer weeding, but since she knew I wanted to pray there she gave me the directions via the Old Coast Guard Rd., which is an easy drive. The 2 gates were left unlocked for me.

I needed no driving directions, and found it easily. I had to sit in my rented Jeep for several minutes to take it all in, and I could feel that I was about to step on to sacred land. I felt somewhat uneasy, but approached slowly. I walked around the outer walls, and opted not to go inside at that time.

Instead, I felt I should pray by the sacrifical stone. At Momi's request, I brought a closed flower lei to leave there as an offering of respect. I placed it on the ground under the stone, where other offerings of rock wrapped ti leaves were set.

I had been told to pray exactly at noon, and to pray for what I needed, and NOT for what I wanted. I was early, so I began to pray for my family and friends. I prayed for special requests for some of my friends. It was then 11:45 AM, so I just looked at the stone and looked out upon the ocean and saw Maui across the channel. I returned to praying, and for some reason, I began to leak huge tears. I stopped crying and dried my eyes and wondered why iIhad cried. Then I started crying again. Again I wiped the tears away. I felt a great sense of peace, wonder and beauty.

I checked my watch, but was unsure if it was exactly correct, so I waited for the sun to be directly on my head. For reasons unknown to me, I began to chant in Hawaiian. Yes, I do know some Hawaiian, but not enough to chant/pray. Then my feet began to move in some sort of slow dance. I had no control over these things. It simply happened.

Just when I felt the burning sun on my head, a voice said to me: "move forward". I did, but I also looked for 'hidden wires or speakers"....but there was none. The the voice [female] told me "move forward still" and I stepped one pace forward. Again the voice told me to "move forward until the shadow of the top of your head is directly over me". I looked at the ground, and noticed a small stone on the ground. It was talking to me. It seemed to vibrate somewhat, and turned a dark red color. I was not surprised or afraid. All I felt was total peace.

Now some of you may write negative words about my experience, but it is my truth. All this happened.

Several days after, I called Momi to share my experience with her. She told me the tears were me letting go of all the bad things that have happened in my life, and that I must have had a lot of bad because I cried twice. She was not surprised at the voice I heard, as it has happened to others who go there to pray with an open mind and heart. I have yet to tell her about the chanting In Hawaiian or the little shuffling of my feet....but she did tell me that I had been blessed, and I know I have been. I feel differently about things and certain people. I feel stronger, more open to telling my experience and listening to others.

IF you want to visit there to pray [and not for sensationalism] please call the Mookini Luakini Heiau Foundation at [--]. You will be given driving directions so you dont have to take the Upulo airport dirt road, which is full of huge potholes and frequently flooded. Someone will meet you and they will unlock the gates for you. Dont forget to leave a closed flower lei as an offering of respect for all the kupuna who died there.

Please go only if you can keep and open mind and heart and act with deep respect of what historic and spiritual signifiance this place is.

27  Thank Kilikena
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed Mookini Heiau also viewed

Waimea, Island of Hawaii
Kalapana, Island of Hawaii

Been to Mookini Heiau? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing