Big Island Sights

Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site

  • 62-3601 Kawaihae Rd. Map It
  • Kawaihae
  • Historic District/Site
  • Fodor's Choice
  • Wooden Statues, Puuhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park, Kona Coast, Big Island, Hawaii, USA

    Ocean Image Photography / Shutterstock

Published 09/02/2015

Fodor's Review

Quite simply, this is one of the most historic sites in all of Hawaii. It was here in 1810, on top of Puukohala (Hill of the Whale), that Kamehameha the Great built the war heiau that would serve to unify the Hawaiian Islands, ending 500 years of almost continually warring chiefdoms. The oceanfront, fortress-like site is foreboding and impressive. A paved ½-mile, looped trail runs from the visitor center to the main temple sites. An even older temple, dedicated to the shark gods, lies submerged just offshore, where sharks can be seen swimming. A new museum displays ancient Hawaiian weapons, including clubs, spears, and a replica of a bronze cannon that warriors dragged into battle on an ancient Hawaiian sled. Stop on the lanai/theater for a cool breeze, a spectacular view, while playing six videos. In the air-conditioned museum room, interactive displays allow visitors to feel the weights of woods, or try to lift the rocks that were used to build the structure. Rangers are available to answer questions or use your smartphone to narrate the free audio tour. Plan about an hour to see everything.

Sight Information


62-3601 Kawaihae Rd., Kawaihae, Hawaii, 96743, United States

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Sight Details:

  • Free
  • Daily 8–4:45

Published 09/02/2015


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