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“Educational, friendly and great views!”
Review of Pu'ukohola Heiau

Pu'ukohola Heiau
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$223.96*
and up
Hawaii Island Experience
Ranked #6 of 16 things to do in Kawaihae
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: A stone temple built by King Kamehameha in 1719.
Reviewed April 28, 2013

The rangers at this park are to be highly commended. Our family had a wonderful time visiting this Historic Park which is so rich in Hawaiian History. The visitors centre is well laid out and welcoming. They have a Junior Ranger program for the children which our children embraced by doing an activity sheet and earning their Junior Ranger badge. The rangers were so encouraging and allowed the children to have their photo taken with different ancient tools and weapons such as spears, guns and clubs. The 2 older children were honoured by pretending they were the chiefs.
The nature walk was great where we could view the remains of such an important building close-up. We ended our visit with a personal net fishing demonstration. The staff obviously love their job and I say Mahalo for taking the extra time to welcome our family.

1  Thank familyvalue8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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76 - 80 of 112 reviews

Reviewed April 12, 2013

There was a visiting school group in the visitor centre the day we where here. It was interesting to listen to what was being said and to observe the kids, all with their i-pads! We did the self guided tour and then watched some whales off shore put on a spectacular show. We had planned on having a picnic lunch at Spencer's beach which is next to the park but it was closed that day as some maintenance was being done.... looked like a nice picnic beach though with trees for shade.

2  Thank Esgyen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 3, 2013

Pu`ukoholā Heiau is basically a site that shows how King Kamehameha was able to consolidate all the islands under one ruler. It is an interesting educational experience. The place is well presented and has very nice facilities and walking trail. Though there is not a whole lot here to see, it is informative on how Hawaii was ruled in the late 1700s and influenced by white sailors who brought iron and guns/canons.

2  Thank FamilyOf4Vacationer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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.

7  Thank maritimeexplorer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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!

2  Thank NativeWahine
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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