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“O`ahu's Largest Heiau--Pu`u O Mahuka” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Pu'u o Mahuka Heiau

Pu'u o Mahuka Heiau
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North Shore and Circle Island Adventure
Ranked #212 of 518 things to do in Oahu
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Attraction details
Owner description: An ancient temple overlooking scenic Waimea Bay.
Honolulu, Hawaii
Level Contributor
11 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“O`ahu's Largest Heiau--Pu`u O Mahuka”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 19, 2012

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.

Visited February 2012
5 Thank Denise M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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32 reviews from our community

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Rye, New York
Level Contributor
176 reviews
78 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 82 helpful votes
“A 4x4 would be helpful”
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 5, 2011

Again, most guidebooks list this as a terrific site that I never made it to. The entrance to the park is a fair haul up a switchback filled road. at the entrance, there is a sign indicating the heaiu is another 0.7 miles up a poorly maintained tarmac "road". Approximately halfway there, I encountered a vee-shaped slab of concrete filled with water. The depth was such that I was forced to turn around (an effort in itself on this narrow road) and abandon any attempt to see the heiau. One guidebook suggested it was possible to reach the site by public transportation, but that seemed very impractical to me. The walk from any bus stop would require a major hike up the switchbacks with a more than half mile trek once entering the park. The site, if actually reached, might be terrific, but I don't know. I do know that risking damage to a rental car didn't seem worth it to me.

Visited November 2011
2 Thank robert j
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
349 reviews
185 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 566 helpful votes
“Amazing Multi-Level Structure”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 7, 2008

The ancient complex is expansive and had great views. You can get a sense of its importance from its scope and the effort it took to build. There are a couple of interpretive signs which are helpful. As a bonus, we also saw wild pigs while we were there, which is a treat as a tourist, even if a pain locally.

4 Thank NJ-Eric
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Amazing Archeological site”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 6, 2008

A little hard to find up a winding road, but the drive was well worth it. Once there you find ancient temple ruins overlooking the North Shore, with beautiful views. While the site was quiet, it was obviously visited often as there were many flower and fruit offerings left, making a beautiful display. Over towards the bushes is a stone that likely may have been a slaughter stone and it is easy to imagine blood pooling in its crevaces. The temple walls have all fallen to the foundation, but it is refreshing nonetheless to stand in the very place that hundreds of years ago the Hawaiian Ali'i stood.

If you are on your way to the north shore, take an hour detour and be connected with ancient humanity.

4 Thank Seymour_Moose
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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