The ancient stones of Mookini Heiau (temple) call to your soul and connect you to a time long ago. Our journey to one of the most hidden Big Island activities has not been easy. We encountered potholes in the road as big as the heiau itself. Several cars that followed us in have turned back. We keep going and complete the final mile on foot.
For over 1,500 years the Mookini Heiau has stood watch over this northern tip of Big Island. Almost hidden from the dirt road below, the size and enormity of Mookini took us by surprise with its 30 foot walls and huge interior.
Mookini stands among Hawaii’s most sacred and ancient sites.
On our arrival there is no one here, only the spirits from centuries ago. We are left alone to feel Mookini and reflect on its sacrificial past.
It was here that thousands of Hawaiians were sacrificed to the Gods. Founded in 480 A.D., by Paao, a Tahitian priest, this temple was rededicated in 1978 to the “Children of the Land.”
In the rededication, the restrictive kapu was lifted by high priestess, Leimomi Mookini Lum, to make it safe for all people to enter. Her family has cared for the temple since its beginning in a rare unbroken line of guardianship.
Mookini Heiau was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1963. It was deeded to the State of Hawaii in 1978 on stipulation that the Mookini bloodline, through its kahuna nui (advisor on ritual, tradition and guidance), be consulted on all matters.
Also nearby is the birthplace of Kamaehameha the Great who is believed to have been born here in 1758.
Directions. Turn makai (towards the ocean) at the 20 mile marker (Upolu Airport Sign). It’s a 2 mile walk or drive on a dirt road (4 wheel drive is best). Map.