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“Hawaiian Temple-Site of Scared Mysteries”
Review of Pu'ukohola Heiau

Pu'ukohola Heiau
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Hawaii Island Experience
Ranked #6 of 16 things to do in Kawaihae
Certificate of Excellence
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Owner description: A stone temple built by King Kamehameha in 1719.
Reviewed May 3, 2012

For those with the gut and the gumption for understanding the history of real Hawai'i, the big island awaits, but it isn't all aloha and leis, it includes a past that like most national pasts, earned its peace and unification through war and human sacrifice. In 1791, this heiau was the center of the action. King Kamehameha's hula (spiritual advisor and prophet) told him if he wanted to unify the islands under his single rule, to first build a temple to the war god Ku. This he did with the help of his soldiers who literally moved mountains, or a mountain of stone over Kohala to build the foundation of this architecturally significant and magnificent structure. He was then told to invite his cousin and rival chief Keouato of Ka'u to the island where, upon his embarkment at Pelekane Beach, adjacent to the heiau, Kamehameha I, ordered him to be murdered and his body brought up from the beach to be sacrificed upon the altar as an offering to the Gods. Indeed, this action gave Kamehameha I power over Ka'u as well as the power to negotiate peace with the other islands not yet under unified control of a single king. By 1810, Kamehameha ruled over all of the islands and in peace. This temple should not be missed as it is still the site of sacred practice in Hawai'i and provides one with an unsantized understanding of how the foundation for the kingdom of Hawai'i was earned. Why it is not more highly regarded in architectural circles is beyond me.

1  Thank leslieness
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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88 - 92 of 114 reviews

Reviewed February 24, 2012

You see these heiaus around the island but here you can really get up close and personal. The visitor center is great with warm, friendly staff. You can use your cell phone (but not necessary) to narrate the 30-minute walking loop. Excellent history lesson!

1  Thank minnesotajul
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 12, 2012

A wonderful opportunity to marvel at human ingenuity, strength and pure numbers. This National Historical site is wonderfully presented with a small visitor's center that provides informative background for the walk to the heiau. There are times of the year when celebrations bring this site to life and share the Hawaiian culture with visitors and residents. I love to bring visitor's to this place. They always are thrilled that I did. I vacationed and lived here full time many years before I discovered this site. I am so thankful that I did. I have a much better understanding of Hawaii history and the culture. Don't miss this.

1  Thank wahinetraveler06
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 10, 2012

The heiau (temple) at Pu’ukohola is a natural historical site of major significance. The sacred Hawaiian culture stone structure was built in 1790 by Kamehameha I who was born in modern day Kohala on the Big Island of Hawaii. Eventually Kamehameha conquered and killed the royal Ali ‘i (chiefs) of the individual islands. Kamehameha I unified all the Hawaiian islands under his rule, which became present day 50th state of Hawaii.

Today visitors can follow the paths on a self-guided tour. The historical site has remains of three heiaus of note. It will take 30 – 45 minutes to tour the park. Unfortunately, visitors are not allowed to climb the sacred structures. There are shaded ocean view benches for visitors who do not want to do the self-guided tour.

The national park is located in South Kohala, one mile south of Kawaihae off Highway 270. Bring water and wear sunscreen and a hat for the walking tour. The visitor’s center has a small gift shop and rest rooms.

1  Thank MauiGlobeTrotters
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 6, 2012

We had hoped to walk out onto this giant heiau and imagine what it would have been like back in the day. Unfortunately, this is no longer allowed. You can still take a short trail and walk past it but from this perspective it is just a really big pile of rocks.

That leaves the visitor center, which does provide some interesting information for those who are into early Hawaiian culture. That wasn't us. Given that we had more to do than time to do it on Hawaii, we were disappointed that we wasted time stopping here. The only upside was a nice, clean restroom.

A far more interesting look at early Hawaiian culture is available at Pu`uhonua O Honaunau National Historic Park south of Kona. Unlike Pu'ukohola Heiau, it is a "must see".

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

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