It takes some effort to reach this windswept, culturally important site on the northern tip of the island, but for those with 4WD vehicles or the ability to hike 3 miles round-trip, it’s well worth it. The 1,500-year-old Mookini Luakini Heiau, once used by kings to pray and offer human sacrifices, is among Hawaii’s oldest, largest, and most significant shrines. Nearly the size of a football field, with stacked rock walls almost 30 feet high, it was originally dedicated to Ku, the Hawaiian god of war, when it was erected in a.d. 480. Each stone is said to have been passed hand to hand from Pololu Valley, some 13 miles away, by 18,000 men who worked from sunset to sunrise. The latest in an unbroken family line of kahuna nui (temple caretakers) rededicated the eerie site in 1978 as a heiau (temple) for healing and children’s education. A half-mile west lies the Kamehameha I Birth Site, where the great leader was born circa 1758. Later spirited away to Waipio Valley, where he was raised, Kamehameha returned to seek spiritual guidance at Mookini before embarking on his campaign to unite Hawaii. Note: Please do not stand on or remove any rocks from the site.
Hawaii (The Big Island)
Hawaii (The Big Island)› Attraction
Kohala Historical Sites State Monument
Off coastal dirt road, 1 1/2 miles southwest of Upolu Airport
Our Rating Hours Thurs–Tues 9am–8pm Web site Kohala Historical Sites State Monument Other Free admission. From Hwy. 270, take Upolu Airport Rd. north to airport. Park and hike 1 1/2 miles southwest on dirt road; Mookini Luakini Heiau is on the left (mountain side). If road conditions permit (avoid during or after rain), use 4WD vehicle to drive to the heiau. Kamehameha I Birth site is another 1/2-mile southwest, also on the mountain side of the dirt road
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