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Historic Hawaii
Island of Kauai

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East between Lihue-Kalapaki and the North Shore. The unpretentious "everyday" paradise, referred to as the "Coconut Coast", where the majority of the population resides. Boasts the largest percentage of accommodations, shops and historical sites.

(See also Museums / Galleries)


You are invited to visit the traditional Hawaiian religious sites listed in this website. However, you are asked to remember that these are religious sites which are still sacred to the Hawaiian people. As historic sites, these places are also fragile and subject to damage and collapse. Please visit with respect and care for these important places.

  • View the heiau from the exterior. Please do not climb on or over the rock walls. The stacked roof is unstable and may collapse.
  • It is unlawful to take, excavate, destroy, or alter any historic site on state land. Any person who violates this law is subject to a fine of $10,000 (HRS Chapter 6E-11)
  • Wrapping a rock in a ti leaf is not a traditional offering. This damages the plants and the integrity of the heiau structure.
  • Offerings of coins, candles, incense and similar items cause long-term damage.

The historic sites of Hawaii are unique resources that are fragile and cannot be replaced. Please help us protect Hawaii's past for the future.

Located off Kuhio Highway (Hwy 56) along the Wailua River in Wailua River State Park.
(East Side)
Wailua River State Park encompasses 1,000 acres along the Wailua River. As one of the two chiefly centers on Kauai in pre-contact times, the park includes the Wailua Complex of Heiau, petroglyphs, birthstones, and agricultural fields. Besides the Wailua River, the park has some of the island's best waterfalls, including Wailua Falls and Opaekaa Falls. Following are important historical sites open for visitation:

  • Hikinaakala Heiau:
    Located on southern bank at mouth of Wailua River; accessed from Lydgate Beach Park off Kuhio Highway.
    Hikinaakala is translated as "rising of the sun". It was at this heiau, built around A.D. 1300, that the dawn was celebrated with prayers and chants. Adjacent to the heiau was Hauola, a "puuhonua" or place of refuge, where one could escape punishment and find safety during war. Interpretive signs are available at the site and brochures can be requested from the State Parks office in Lihue.

  • Wailua Petroglyphs:
    Located on the southern bank near the rivermouth.
    Sometimes the river and ocean currents remove the blanket of sand that covers the boulders along the riverbank. On several of these boulders are petroglyphs, including human forms, fish, and geometric forms. You might also see the grinding surfaces on these boulders where stone adzes were sharpened and polished.

  • Kalaeokamanu Heiau:
    Located along Kuamoo Road, past the Coco Palms Resort.
    This heiau is believed to be one of the oldest on Kauai and the site where several religious traditions were introduced.

  • Pohaku Hoohanau (Birthstones):
    Located along Kuamoo Road, adjacent to Kalaeokamanu Heiau.
    This birthplace of alii (Hawaiian chiefs) is marked by several large boulders. A child born here was assured high-ranking status.

  • Poliahu Heiau:
    Located along Kuamoo Road, about 1 mile above Kalaeokamanu Heiau and across from Opaekaa Falls.
    The large heiau is situated on a bluff overlooking the Wailua River. Believed to have been a luakini (sacrificial) heiau, this site consists of stacked boulder walls and stone paved floors. Interpretive signs are available on the oceanside of the heiau and a brochure is available upon request from the State Parks office in Lihue.

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