Hawaiian Temple Sites

By Hawaii.com Team
Photo:  Ken Lund.

Puʻu o Mahuka Heiau. Photo: Ken Lund.

Though long laid to ruins, Hawaiian heiau, or temple sites, are still sacred to most Hawaiians. These were places of great spiritual power and were treated with reverence. Some sites have been restored, others appear to be no more than low stonewalls overgrown with weeds, but all remain significant to the Hawaiian culture.

If you visit a heiau, nothing should be altered or removed; don’t climb or walk on the rock walls or platforms and don’t leave flowers or stone offerings behind. When you first visit a site, slowly approach it, notice its placement in the scheme of things surrounding it, follow its view plane and take note of your personal response.

Puʻu O Mahuka Heiau

Photo:  karendesuyo.

Photo: karendesuyo.

The largest heiau on Oahu is Puʻu O Mahuka, located in the town of Pupukea on the North Shore. The heiau is nearly intact, consists of three adjoining enclosures, and measures 575 by 170 feet. This was a powerful place for the priests and the royalty and was also considered an advantageous place for female royalty (aliʻi) to give birth.

Poised on a pali (cliff) overlooking Waimea Bay, this sacred Hawaiian site is a national landmark and a registered state historic site.

Rock Formations

Crouching Lion stone formation.  Photo:  Joel.

Crouching Lion stone formation. Photo: Joel.

Pele’s Chair is a lava rock formation that is said to be one of the places from which the volcano goddess left Oahu to continue her work on the other islands. Seen from the Hawaii Kai Golf Club or on Kalaniana’ole Highway on the way to Makapu’u, it looks very much like a chair or throne, but close up it loses its likeness. Another rock formation up on a mountain ridge above Kahana Bay on the windward coast is the well-known Crouching Lion. This is a kupua, or demigod, who was apparently related to Pele and wished to follow Pele’s sister, Hi’iaka, but was turned to stone. The Hawaiians saw a large-headed dog in this formation — not surprising since lions weren’t part of their experience.

Wizard Stones in Waikiki

Photo:  Wally Gobetz.

Wizard Stones in Waikiki. Photo: Wally Gobetz.

Four ancient stones called the Wizard Stones can be found on Waikiki Beach. The stones were thought to be empowered with the mana (divine power) of four great kahuna (priests) who arrived from Kahiki (Tahiti). They became widely known throughout the islands as healers, and instructed the people to place the four large stones on the beach near the present Moana Hotel. Each kahuna imbued a stone with special powers. Sadly, the stones have been moved and broken a few times, but they still can be seen at Kuhio Beach, where they remain largely unnoticed by the daily crowds.

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