Pu‘ukoholā Heiau National Historic Site is at 62-3601 Kawaihae Rd. Kapoukahi, the famous prophet of Kaua‘i, prophesied that Kamehameha would conquer all the islands if he built a large heiau (temple) dedicated to his family war god, Kūkā‘ilimoku, atop Pu‘ukoholā—“whale hill”—at Kawaihae. Pu‘ukoholā Heiau was built 1790-91 by thousands of men who passed water-worn lava rocks hand-by-hand in a human chain for 20 miles over the Kohala Mountains from the Pololū Valley. Human sacrifices were offered in the heiau to Kūkā‘ilimoku. In 1810, through conquest and treaties, Kamehameha the Great unified all the Hawaiian islands and was the revered king.
Featuring activities like lei making, quilting and canoe rides, the site's Ho‘oku‘ikahi Establishment Day Hawaiian Cultural Festival in August celebrates ancient Hawaiian traditions.
Near the site is Mailekini Heiau, an older temple. During the rule of Kamehameha I, British sailor John Young helped the king convert this temple into a fort. A third temple, Hale o Kapuni, was dedicated to the shark gods. This temple lies just offshore and was last seen in the 1950s.
Note: Heiau are culturally significant and should be treated with respect.