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Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site on Hawaii’s Big Island

Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site on Hawaii’s Big Island

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!

The gorgeous Spencer Beach Park

National Park Service – Puukohola Heiau website

  1. Rebecca@R We There Yet Mom? 26 April, 2013

    I would love to visit Hawaii – i have read so many posts about how incredible it is – love to see off the beaten path stuff like this.

    Thanks for linking up!

  2. Lisa Goodmurphy 26 April, 2013

    Nice to get some Hawaiian history mixed in with beach time!

  3. Tonya {The Traveling Praters} 26 April, 2013

    All of your posts on Hawaii are really making me want to plan a visit!

    I love to visit historical attractions and learn about the varied histories of the places we visit. I only wish my memory were better so I could remember what I learned when the trip is over. 🙂

  4. Cheryl @ Kids On A Plane 26 April, 2013

    Hawaii (especially Big Island) is on my family’s travel bucket list.

    My siblings have been (for honeymoons and vacation) but I have yet to make it out there. I keep hearing how incredible Big Island is and your photos make me want to go even more!!

  5. Michele {Malaysian Meanders} 30 April, 2013

    We loved the Big Island. Although we drove right by this site, we didn’t stop since it was the end of a long travel day for us. But I’m sure if it was whale watching season, I would have dragged my family out there and hung out until we saw one.

  6. eileen at FamiliesGo! 30 April, 2013

    Hawaii has some very dramatic landscape, it’s not all beach and jungle the way people imagine. I’d like to see more of it.

  7. Sophie 4 May, 2013

    The beach really do look beautiful and peaceful. Hawaii seems so intriguing. Really need to put it on the travel list.