We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Unexpected and amazing!”
Review of Mookini Heiau

Mookini Heiau
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: Spiritual place thought to be the birthplace of King Kamehameha.
Vancouver, Canada
Level Contributor
9 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Unexpected and amazing!”
Reviewed 15 November 2012

We've been down the little road to Upolo Airport many times to see the wind turbines but never made that left hand turn to go to Mo'okini Heiau. As other reviewers have said, the dirt road is fine if it's dry, otherwise after some rain, it will be a mud pit in some sections. We drove our 2WD vehicle just in front of the last house (it's a nice house with a free fruit stand outside) and walked the rest of the way in. We were surprised about the scale of the heiau - it's huge. Amazing too, if you think about the thousands of people who hand passed all the stones from 14 miles away. We walked a bit further on to see the Kamehameha birthplace. Equally amazing. Quite moving to stand there. It is a very windy place and you can get some good shots of waves crashing on the rocks. Well worth the walk.

Visited November 2012
Thank Coco P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Write a Review

25 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Pinole, California
Level Contributor
93 reviews
37 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 70 helpful votes
“Remote but worth it”
Reviewed 18 May 2011

Don't go there with your regular 2WD rental car. Well, you can drive most of the dirt road, but at some point you might need to leave the car parked on the side. We did. And walked about 15 mins to the Heiau, then from there continued on to Kamehameha's birthplace as well.
But don't do it in midday sun. We got a late start, and ended up there around noon. It was brutal, since that area is extremely windy and dry and we had the dirtiest feet and legs afterwards! Take lots of water, slather on sunblock, bring a fruit snack, cover up completely incl. wide-brimmed hat, and don't forget your camera.
This place is remote, but well worth it. So is Kamehameha's birthplace. If you love history, anthropology, culture, ruins, don't miss this, no matter what the circumstances.

Visited May 2011
1 Thank Drezdany
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
188 reviews
94 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 122 helpful votes
“amazing, for adventuresome with an interest in archeology & native culture”
Reviewed 6 March 2011

Read the history elsewhere. I'll tell you how to get there. Directions are nearly impossible to find. It takes patience to find this heiau. DO NOT ATTEMPT AFTER A RAIN OR W/O HIGH FOUR WHEEL VEHICLE. The road is deeply rutted in spots but w the right car you'll have no trouble. There are no markings at all for this site. We wondered if this was at the request of the Hawaiin peoples.

To find the heiau travel north from the Kona area on route 19. Take 270 where the road turns left heading towards Hawi. Right before Hawi, watch for the sign for Upolu Airport - turn left. When you reach the airport, turn left (west) and drive about 2 miles. There is a very old, poor heiau sign - it's up the hill but not a difficult walk. Driving further is the birthplace of Kamehameha I.

Visited March 2011
6 Thank DPD123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Casper, Wyoming
Level Contributor
47 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
“Off of the beaten path, but a powerful experience”
Reviewed 22 January 2011

I hesitate to write this review because part of the experience of visiting the Mo'okini Heiau is the solitude that you feel there. I would hate to see it overrun by tourist who have no respect for ancient things. Being there is a powerful experience no matter what your religion. There is a quietness there with just the sound of the wind and waves that is overwhelming. This is not a place for people who are not really interested in the Hawaiian culture.
If you go, wear good walking shoes, no flip flops and take water. When we visited the heiau, we parked at Upolu Airport and walked from there. You could possibly drive part of the way, but once you get past a small house, the mud puddles are large and ancient. By this, I mean that there are beaten foot paths around the puddles. The only vehicle that I saw that made it all of the way was a 4wheel drive truck and it was covered in mud. The mud holes will definitely eat a small rental car. I would definitely suggest walking the 1-2 miles in just to take in the sounds and sights once you get out of the ruts in the road. There are 2 road signs along the way to guide you.
Once you get to the Mo'okini Heiau, you go up a small hill to the actual heiau. Once at the site, there are no interpretive signs to explain what you are seeing. I had done some reading from Big Island guidebooks before I went, but I wish that I had done more. I later asked the cultural advisors at the hotel to explain many of the things to me. I am still looking for more information.
I have seen Stonehenge and Chichen Itza and found the Mo'Okini Heiau to be just as impressive in its own way. The walls are very impressive. The quiet solitude of the place is even more so. If you visit, please treat it with respect and reverence.

Visited January 2011
10 Thank teachertraveladdict
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Madison, WI
Level Contributor
28 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 40 helpful votes
Reviewed 5 December 2010

One of the most powerful experiences I've had was on the north coast of Hawaii, at Mo'okini Heiau, a Luakini or place where tens of thousands of Hawaiians were sacrificed to the war god Ku.

A large, barren, stark place, seemingly cold on the otherwise warm island of Hawaii, not many visit the place. The ones that do usually go away differently than when they came.

It isn't hard to imagine the large central stone, brought from Tahiti in the 11th century, as a sacrificial alter. That's what it is.

A palpable feeling of human misery and despair, wild, transparent visions of aerial souls and sacrificial orgies, and the cold, hollow, silent screeching of the murdered. Even with the lonely vista of the Alenuihaha Channel with its view of Maui, you won't be tempted to stay for a picnic lunch.

2 Thank SnowWizard
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

Travellers who viewed Mookini Heiau also viewed


Been to Mookini Heiau? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing