Our visit to Hawaii was a fantastic experience. We definitely experienced modern Hawaiian culture, explored the outdoors and we ate the best tasting local food. What we were lacking was experiencing Hawaiian history. Luckily the last day of our stay we visited Puukohola Heiau National Historical Site. When you visit this site, you walk in the footsteps of a king.
Here is a little history :
In the 1780s, the Hawaiian Islands were in civil unrest as warring chiefs fought for control. The island of Hawai’i had its own internal struggle when one of the ali’i nui Kalani’opu’u, died. He passed his title to his son Kiwala’o and named his nephew, Kamehameha, keeper of the family war god, Kuka’ilimoku. Kiwala’o, the newali‘i then bestowed gift lands to his uncle Keawemauhili, but left his own half-brother, Keoua Ku’ahu‘ula, with nothing.
Meanwhile, Kamehameha felt he should have of a greater political role. Kiwala’o was killed in battle, setting off a power struggle between Keoua, Keawemauhili, and Kamehameha.
Kapoukahi, a powerful kahuna from Kauaii, prophesized that war would end if Kamehameha constructed aheiau dedicated to the war god Ku at Pu’ukohola. In 1791, Keoua, Kamehameha’s cousin, was slain at Pu’ukohola, an event that according to prophesy, led to the conquest and consolidation of the islands under the rule of Kamehameha I. — National Park Service
On Hawaii’s Big Island, everywhere is measured by how far it is to the two major cities. It is either on the Kona side, or the Hilo side of the island. Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site is on the Kona side of the island (which is the western side), but quite a bit north of the city.
Even though the history here is long and interesting, the site itself is pretty small. You won’t want to spend more than an hour here.
However, in mid December to the end of March, humpback whales swim close to the coast at Puukohola Heiau and you’ll want to take time to watch them! The area of water just off the coast has been designated the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sancturary. Sharks are also seen frequently off-shore. There’s actually a sunken temple off the beach dedicated to the shark gods.
You can also extend your time in the area by visiting Spencer Beach Park which is steps away from Puukohola Heiau. It is a beautiful beach!
National Park Service – Puukohola Heiau website