The largest heiau on Oahu. National historic landmark. Easy hike with amazing views.
General: Photo Opportunity
Hiking: Nature Walk
Sightseeing: Great Views
Tours: Self Guided
Cultural & Historical: Heiau / Sacred Site
Pu'u o Mahuka Heiau State Historic Site is Oahu's largest Heiau and is located at the top of the mountain just northeast of Waimea Bay Beach Park in the Haleiwa area on the northshore of O'ahu.
To get here, continue along the Kamehameha Highway (83) and turn mauka (toward the mountain) on Pupukea Road which you'll find right by Pupukea Beach Park / Shark's Cove Beach. That road will curve its way up the mountain and you'll take the first right turn you come to. Stay on that road and it will dump you right into the parking lot.
The Heiau is right next to the parking lot and pretty neat to see but you're not allowed to touch it, climb on it, or otherwise disturb it in any way. This is a sacred site, and while only the walls remain today this was a major temple 250 years ago. It was dedicated as a luakini, or sacrificial, heiau where ceremonies were held to help bring success to war.
This location was chosen for a few reasons but a key point was that signal fires could be built here to communicate between Oahu and Wailua on the island of Kauai. In 1792, Captain George Vancouver anchored off of Waimea and sent some of his crew to collect fresh water. Things didn't go well and the Hawaiians killed three of his men. Some historians suggest that those three men were sacrificed at this heiau.
In 1965 Pu'u o Mahuka Heiau was designated as a Registered National Historic Landmark and thus should be protected for years to come.
In addition to the heiau itself and the fact that this is just a generally peaceful area to experience, there are a few mini hikes you can go on with some amazing payoffs at the end.
For the first one, from the parking lot just walk toward the heiau and stay left as you walk around it. Follow that trail into the bushes to the southwest (directly across from the parking lot). That's it, you'll be greeted with some amazing views of the mountains, ocean, and Waimea Bay Beach Park.
The second isn't much longer. From the parking lot, head west along the path that parallels the heiau and follow the dirt trail through the bushes. If you hit a fork stay right and keep walking until you reach the power poles (that will be buzzing away) and cement box. You can't miss it and it's only 0.2 miles so almost anyone can do this, kids included. Just be careful and watch kids closely because a fall from up here won't end well. You'll get great views near the cement box. The trail will continue a few feet further if you stay to the right of the cement box as well but you can see just as well from the box area which should be less risky than moving forward any more.
If you're in the area it's worth stopping to see and to check out the amazing views, but otherwise probably not a destination all by itself.
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