Puu o Mahuka Heiau

Puu o Mahuka Heiau, Oahu

Go to this ancient Hawaiian heiau (religious temple site) around sundown to feel the “mana” (sacred spirit) and a mysterious energy that will give you goose bumps all over. The Puu O Mahuka Heiau (view panorama) is the largest heiau on Oahu, covering almost two acres. It is a national historic landmark, its name meaning “hill of escape.” The heiau may have been constructed as early as the 1600s. It is situated on a mountain, 300 feet high, and overlooks Waimea Bay on Oahu’s North Shore.

The heiau is well-preserved and consists of three adjoining enclosures measuring 575 feet by 170 feet, with an altar in front of it that is often covered by flowers and fruits left there as offerings by Native Hawaiians and local residents. Most tourists don’t know about this place as many maps don’t show it. The Puu O Mahuka Heiau was considered a sacred and powerful place for the kahuna (priests) and one of two places where the wives of the ancient chiefs gave birth. But the heiau was also a site of human sacrifice. In the 1770s, a time of political upheaval, the high priest Kaopulupulu supervised this heiau. He predicted that Oahu would be overrun by strangers from a faraway land.

Captain George Vancouver anchored his ship, the Daedalus, off Waimea in 1792 and sent some people ashore to collect water. A conflict with the Hawaiians arose and three of Vancouver’s men were killed. Some say that they were sacrificed here at this heiau.

In 1795, when King Kamehameha I conquered Oahu, his high priest Hewahewa carried out religious ceremonies here, until the traditional religion was abolished in 1819. After that the heiau may have been used for other purposes. Some say that the middle enclosure was used for agriculture. Pineapple was grown around the heiau until the 1960s.

In 1962, the Puu O Mahuka Heiau was declared a National Historic Landmark in recognition of its importance to the Hawaiian history and culture. In the same year, the four-acre property surrounding the heiau was placed under the jurisdiction of State Parks to preserve this site for future generations. A path through the heiau was created around this time.

If you plan to come here for a visit, please don’t climb over the walls to get to the center of the heiau as this may damage the walls and paving. Also, this is a sacred place that should only be viewed from behind the walls. The park is open daily from 7 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. There is no entrance fee.

Puu o Mahuka Heiau Overview

  • Largest heiau on Oahu, has three adjoining enclosures measuring 575 feet by 170 feet
  • Located on Oahu's North Shore overlooking Waimea Bay
  • Heiau is well-preserved and open daily

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Reviews and Comments:
The 3rd sign there where it talks about Makahiki reads, "Each November, the rising of the Makali'i (Pleiades) at Ka'ena Point can be observed from the heiau. The rising marked the start of the Makahiki season, a time of peace that lasted four months."
The Pleiades can not rise at Ka'ena Point. Ka'ena point is West of the heiau, and stars rise in the East.
What it should say is, Each November, the Makali'i (Pleiades) as viewed from Ka'ena Point, can be observed to seemingly rise up out of the Heiau at Pu'u o Mahuka just after sunset, marking the start of the Makahiki season, a time of peace that lasted four months.
Carey Johnson, Tue Oct 08, 2013
ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SACRED SPOTS ON THE NORTH SHORE....... Be respectful, bring your own tea leaf, and appease the gods by picking up all the trash you can
Terry Gillard, Thu Jul 14, 2011
My breath caught in my throat when I entered this quiet place. I am not superstitious, but felt a very powerful energy there. There were other cars and tourists there at the same time, but everyone seemed quiet and respectful. We wandered along the trail and photographed Waimea Bay from the cliff. A tsunami watch was in effect at the time from the Samoan earthquake.
Jenn, Mar 03, 2010
This place is so spooky, and in the same time amazing! I felt a strong energy when I was there. I was feeling someone's presence there. If you decide to go, please respect this place and read the signs.
Linka, Jan 11, 2010