Out on the East End, you bump along a dirt trail through an incredible mango grove, bound for an ancient temple of human sacrifice. This temple of doom -- right out of Indiana Jones -- is Iliiliopae, a huge rectangle of stone made of 90 million rocks, overlooking the once-important village of Mapulehu and four ancient fishponds. You trek under the perfumed mangoes, then head uphill through a kiawe forest filled with Java plums to the heiau (temple), which stands across a dry stream bed under cloud-spiked Kaunolu, the 4,970-foot island summit.
One of Hawaii's most powerful heiau, this ancient temple attracted kahuna (priests) from all over the islands. They came to learn the rules of human sacrifice at this university of sacred rites. Contrary to Hollywood's version, historians say that the victims here were always men, not young virgins, and that they were strangled, not thrown into a volcano, while priests sat on lauhala mats watching silently. Spooky, eh?
This is the biggest, oldest, and most famous heiau on Molokai. The massive 22-foot-high stone altar is dedicated to Lono, the Hawaiian god of fertility. The heiau resonates with mana (power) strong enough to lean on. Legend says Iliiliopae was built in a single night by a thousand men who passed rocks hand over hand through the Wailau Valley from the other side of the island; in exchange for the ili'ili (rock), each received a 'opae (shrimp). Others say it was built by menehune, mythic elves who accomplished Herculean feats.