Botanical garden which is also home to the largest Heiau in Hawaii.
General: Botanical Garden
General: Cost: Paid
General: Photo Opportunity
Hiking: Nature Walk
Sightseeing: Great Views
Cultural & Historical: Heiau / Sacred Site
The Pi'ilanihale Heiau (pronounced: hey-ou) is located inside the Kahanu Garden - National Tropical Botanical Garden in the Hana area on the east side of Maui. It's easy to find if you are taking the Road To Hana. See our map / directions page and turn towards the ocean on Ulaino Road around mile marker 31 and you'll drive right to it.
Note that you will cross a river bed near the entrance. Normally this river bed is dry and you drive right over it but if water is flowing be careful because a Flash Flood can occur and that will leave you wishing you opted for the additional insurance on your rental car (or worse).
Stop at the visitor desk when you first drive in and you'll pay a $10 fee per person ($5 for 55+ and Kama'aina with ID, kids 12 and under are free). From there you can walk or drive down a path and park at the end and then begin your self guided tour through the gardens.
It's a nice and very peaceful place to walk through. It feels very Hawaiian with its lush plants all around and blue ocean in the background. You'll get a guidebook so you can learn about the history as well as a lot of information on the various plants if you are into that. We talk more about the botanical side on our Kahanu Garden - National Tropical Botanical Garden listing.
The big attraction (literally) is the 3 acre Pi'ilanihale Heiau which is the largest known ancient Hawaiian temple in all of the Hawaiian islands. It's also a National Historic Landmark. You can't climb it or anything like that and can really only see a corner of it from the ground but it's neat to see the scale of it up close. It's construction dates back to the 14th century so this thing is old.
When you are here you will see some signs that warn you to watch for falling coconuts. They're no joke. I was walking between two coconut trees (not under them as this wasn't my first rodeo) and one fell about 50 feet away from me and the thump on the ground felt like a car just hit the ground. Getting hit in the head by one would be the same as being hit in the head by a bowling ball dropped from a three story building. It would be lights out for sure. Watch the keiki (kids) in this area! It's places like this that inspire our Caution - Falling Coconuts artwork.
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