There are many wondrous, enigmatic and fascinating attractions on the Big Island of Hawaii, some better known than others, many out of the way and generally off the beaten track. Tour Guide Hawaii has produced an encyclopedic collection of the most up-to-date information, presented as short GPS-cued videos, in an app downloadable to iPhone and iPod Touch that covers the entire Big Island, highlighting the popular and the uncrowded, the famous and the secluded, the adventurous and the relaxing.
Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Park
The fulfillment of an ancient prophecy, the devotion of a powerful young King and the first steps toward a new kingdom; the temple at Pu’ukohola stands a mute testament to the facts of Hawaiian history that read like the most dramatic of legends. Forever brooding seaward, Pu’ukohola is an enormous temple inspired by a god-sent vision of greatness. Kamehameha built Pu’ukohola on top of its eponymous hill at Mailekini, in fulfillment of the prophecy by Kaua’i kahuna Kapoukahi. The prophecy foretold if Kamehameha built a great temple to his war god Ku, he would prevail in his wars of conquest and unite the Hawai’ian Islands. In or around the year 1791, perhaps as many as 20,000 people passing stones hand-to-hand 14 miles from Pololu Valley raised this massive Heiau.
When it was finished, Kamehameha invited his cousin and chief rival for the throne of Hawai’i, the Ali’i of Ka’u, Keoua, to the dedication. Some versions of the story tell that when Keoua arrived with a contingent of his Ka’u warriors, a scuffle broke out and he was killed by a spear thrown by the warrior Ke’eaumoku. Kamehameha had the rest of the Ali’i in Keoua’s party seized and they were made the first sacrifice at the new temple.
Another version of the story tells that Ke’eaumoku took hold of Keoua and ducked him into the sea; as a result, Keoua drowned. This account contends that Keoua was not killed by a spear because Kamehameha believed there should be no blemish on the body of Keoua for the consecration of the temple to Ku.
Yet another version of the story holds that Keoua was in fact shot and killed by the Brits John Young and Isaac Davis, from somewhere below Mailekini Heiau. This story contends that this is how Pelekane Beach, which means “British Beach”, got its name. All accounts agree that because of the ease with which the Ali’i had been captured and sacrificed, all the rest of Keoua’s party were spared.
After long years of fierce battle and earnest negotiation, in 1810 after having united the islands by force or agreement, and having fulfilled the prophecy, Kamehameha became the first ruler of the united Hawai’ian Islands.
Pu’ukohola is the largest stone structure in Hawaii, not counting the modern rock wall in front of the Kailua Lowe’s Hardware store.
Below Pu’ukohola and Mailekini lies Pelekane Beach at the mouth of Pelekane Gulch. Submerged just offshore between here and the Kawaihae Harbor jetty, are the largely unexplored, ruined remains of Hale O Kapuni Heiau, a temple dedicated to the shark god Mano. Here worship rites included human flesh being fed to sharks. One reason this temple is not better known is that the bay is still home to several large tiger sharks.
A full range of facilities exist at Pu’ukohola and the adjacent Samuel Spencer Beach Park. More about Spencer Beach Park can be found here.
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Copyright 2009 by Donald B. MacGowan. All rights reserved.