Puʻukoholā Heiau National Historic Site

In the 18th century, Hawaii was racked with conflict. Factions controlled sections of the large island of Hawaii, and other factions controlled other individual and smaller islands in the group. In 1782, King Kamehameha won control of the northern and western sections of what the islanders call the Big Island. Two stranded American and British explorers assisted the effort by providing military advice and modern weapons to the King. After several brutal battles, the King united the islands and built the Puʻukoholā Heiau, or “Temple on the Hill of the Whale,” by having tribesmen shift red lava rock from the Poluku Valley, about 14 miles to the east, to this isolated hilltop on the northeastern corner of Hawaii. After a year of effort, the temple was built and became a symbol of peace and prosperity visited by people from nearby Waimea and more far-ranging communities like Honolulu and Hilo.

Things to Do

Things To Do Near Puʻukoholā Heiau National Historic Site

At Puʻukoholā Heiau, visitors find various things to explore, including the sacrificial temple built so long ago. At the visitor center, explorers find the beginnings of a trail that leads to multiple points throughout the park. After viewing the temple, hike about 170 feet west to see the ruins of an earlier temple called the Mailekini Heiau. From the top of the hill, the ocean views are spectacular, with endless horizons to the west and south, and a dimpled view to the north of other islands in the group. Just offshore is the Hale O Kapuni, an underwater structure dedicated to sharks where the water is so clear you can see sharks feeding on the offerings made by local priests.

Hiking Trails



Nearby Shops and Restaurants

map-marker-alt-regular How to Get There

How To Get To Puʻukoholā Heiau National Historic Site

Hilo, HI, is the largest city on the island of Hawaii. To get to the Puʻukoholā Heiau National Historic Site from Hilo, get onto Hawaii Highway 200 (HI-200) and drive for 54.31 miles. Turn right onto Hawaii Highway 19 (HI-19), otherwise known as Lindsey Road, and drive 9.69 miles to the site entrance. 

The Puʻukoholā Heiau National Historic Site is open year-round. The site’s hours of operation are from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.


62-3601 Kawaihae Road, Kawaihae, HI 96743

Fee: Entry fee (per person) $2.0

The Hawaiian Islands are easily traveled by RV. Using an RV allows you to cover the islands with speed and comfort. Any visitor to the islands should travel to the Puʻukoholā Heiau National Historic Site to help celebrate peace and prosperity. It is an adventure that warms the heart and encourages you to overcome challenges at home and abroad. A trip here will stick in a family’s memory for a lifetime.