Off the beaten path & up the mountain on O`ahu's north shore majestically sits our largest heiau. A heiau is normally a stone structure -- from small to quite large depending on its purpose-- and was used in ancient times for ceremonies focusing on wellness, a good harvest or fishing, pro-creation, success in war, seeking peace, etc. Only a "luakini" heiau was used to offer human sacrifices...most often to the War God Ku. My understanding is that Pu`u O Mahuka Heiau, in the district of Pupukea, was not a luakini heiau until the arrival of the 10th century Samoan Chief Pa`au whose Hawaii invasion ultimately brought about the "kapu system" of law & rule which guided all society until 1819 when it was destroyed just prior to the arrival of missionaries. Kamehameha the Great took this heiau as a war heiau because it points to the Island of Kauai...where he next planned to conquer. On a very clear day, you might catch a glimpse of Kauai.
To drive there, turn onto Pupukea Rd and drive up mountain thru 2 switchbacks until reaching the forested area. There a State Park sign marks the entrance into the poorly maintained road that leads back to the Heiau. Lots of speed bumps so drive slow until the road ends. Before you lies a beautiful ocean & mountain vista and the enormous heiau. While you only see the first level, there are 3 leading down the mountain & you can walk a path around them. The lele -- or ceremonial standard -- that once stood at the head of the heiau is now gone but visitors still place gifts at a man-made sanctuary. If you choose to do so, the "gift" should be something "alive", e.g. flowers, lei (please remove ribbon), food -- things that come from the aina and still retain their sentient energy. Please: do not leave anything in packaging. I once say a bag of Fritos left there. (There's really no one who maintains this heiau so we ask you to 'malama - or care for' this site as best you can.) Heiau protocol states that you NEVER remove any of the rock nor enter a heiau unless blessed by a Kahuna w/privileges to take you in. That happens today at "some" but at this one -- no one goes in --except for a couple of Kahuna who hold responsibility there...as in the Kahuna Nui that first blessed me in my Hawaiian pursuits and placed one of the first copies of our cultural driving tour in a sacred place within the heiau. What an honor for us!
So, take your time, camera, and appropriate gift if inclined. The mound on the far side of the heiau is a good place to sit on your mat or towel and meditate. A path leads down the hillside toward Waimea Bay & "can" be a good place for photos if the bushes aren't too grown up-- but please use caution. There is no railing and if it's recently rained, the ground can be quite slippery.
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