Puʻu O Mahuka Heiau State Historic Site
Picture of Waikiki

**IMPORTANT PARK NOTICES**

Monitor local surf and weather reports prior to your park visit.

[O’AHU] UPDATED 5/18/24- Diamond Head State Monument: The park will remain CLOSED through Sunday, May 19, due to inclement weather and rock falls.  Safety concerns are being addressed and we anticipate reopening on Monday.


[KAUAʻI] UPDATED 5/18/24 –Kauaʻi North shore shuttle departures has SUSPENDED due to inclement weather.

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[O’AHU] UPDATED 5/16/24 –  Ka’ena Point State Park, Mokuleʻia Section: Vehicle access road has CLOSED due to saturated roads and inclement weather.

[HAWAIʻI] UPDATED 5/15/24 – Hapuna State Park: Hapuna and the Waialea Section beach and access road has REOPENED following flood cleanup.

[HAWAI’I] UPDATED 5/13/24 – Akaka Falls State Park to Temporarily CLOSE Weekdays Starting May 15, see Akaka Falls announcement for more information.

[HAWAIʻI] UPDATED 5/13/24 – Wailuku River State Park: Rainbow Falls; tree trimming starts today until 6/7/24, the park will remain OPEN but some areas may be temporarily closed due to safety.

[KAUAʻI] UPDATED 4/30/24 – Kōkeʻe State Park: Kalalau lookout restroom is CLOSED until further notice.

[KAUAʻI] UPDATED 4/26/24 –Kalalau Trail, Nāpali Coast State Wilderness Park: Camping permits held back for local residents during summer, see Kalalau Trail site for more information.

[KAUAʻI] UPDATED 3/18/24 – Kōkeʻe State Park: The gate to Puʻu O Kila Lookout will be closed to vehicular traffic due to road repairs beginning 3/19/24. The lookout will still be accessible by pedestrians, parking is available at Kalalau lookout.

Puʻu O Mahuka Heiau State Historic Site

Hours  Daily 9:00am – 5:00pm
Entrance Fee None
Park Brochure

History

Puʻu o Mahuka Heiau is the largest heiau (religious site or temple) on Oʻahu, covering almost 2 acres. The name is translated as “hill of escape”. Undoubtedly, this heiau played an important role in the social, political, and religious system of Waimea Valley which was a major occupation center of Oʻahu in the pre-contact period.

Puʻu o Mahuka Heiau may have been constructed in the 1600s. Built as a series of 3 walled enclosures, the stacked rock walls ranged from 3 to 6 feet in height and the interior surface was paved with stone. Within the walls were wood and thatch structures. Such a large heiau would have been built by the makaʻainana (commoners) under the direction of a high ruling chief (ali’i nui) and his priests (kahuna).

It was not unusual for a heiau to be expanded and modified by a new ruling chief. It appears that the upper, eastern enclosure was constructed first and was the ceremonial focus of the heiau. The other 2 enclosures were added later, probably in the 1700s.

In the 1770s, high priest Ka’opulupulu under Oʻahu chief Kahahana, oversaw this heiau. This was a time of political upheaval and it is likely that the heiau was used as a heiau luakini (sacrificial temple), perhaps for success in war.

In 1795, when Kamehameha I conquered Oʻahu, his high priest Hewahewa conducted religious ceremonies at this heiau. Use of the site continued until 1819 when the traditional religion was abolished.

Situated on a ridge with a commanding view of Waimea Valley and the northern shoreline of Oʻahu, this heiau had ties with the heiau at Wailua on Kaua’i. It is reported that signal fires at these heiau provided a visual communication between the islands.

In 1792, Capt. George Vancouver anchored his ship Daedalus off Waimea and sent a party onshore to collect water. A skirmish ensued with the Hawaiians and 3 of Vancouver’s men were killed. Some have suggested that these men were taken to Puʻu o Mahuka Heiau for sacrifice.

After the heiau was abandoned, circa 1819, the site may have been used for other purposes. Some have suggested that the middle enclosure was used for agriculture and the stone mounds are clearing and/or planting areas. Pineapple was cultivated around the heiau until the 1960s.

Puʻu o Mahuka Heiau was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1962 in recognition of its importance to Hawaiian culture and history. Also in 1962, the 4-acre property encompassing the heiau was placed under the jurisdiction of State Parks to preserve this significant site for future generations.

In the 1960s, the path through the heiau was created. Today, we ask that you observe the site from outside the walls and do not enter the site to avoid further damaging the walls and paving.