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Above Pūko‘o in Mapulehu Valley is ‘Ili‘ili‘ōpae Heiau (“Temple of the Shrimp”). With a platform measuring 320 by 120 feet, it is the largest heiau on Moloka‘i and one of the largest of its kind in the state. The heiau may have been the site of human sacrifices.
‘Ili‘ili‘ōpae is said to have been built in the 13th century by the Menehune, legendary people who were 2 to 3 feet tall and had large abdomens. The Menehune formed a line across the island from Wailau and passed the building stones to the site hand over hand. Legend has it that each worker's reward was one freshwater shrimp, hence the heiau's name. The route of the Menehune line became the Wailau Trail, once a major link to the outside world for taro villages tucked into the coves of the inaccessible Pali Coast.
The owners welcome the public to hike to ‘Ili‘ili‘ōpae Heiau, but visitors must check in at the Moloka‘i Visitors Bureau for parking instructions. Phone the Moloka‘i Visitors Bureau at (808) 553-3876 for further information. Hikers should wear grip-soled shoes as the pathway to the heiau is challenging and often slippery. Note: Heiau are culturally significant and should be treated with respect.
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Current Location: Puko, Hawaii