SACRED & HISTORICAL
VISITING A HEIAU
(See also Museums
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
- 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
- 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 about 27 miles from Kaunakakai, at the end of the road (Highway 450) at the northeast
tip of the island.
A lush valley that once supported a large population that grew taro in the numerous wetland
fields fed by the valley's streams. Many are now being restored. The locale of ancient heiaus,
two plunging waterfalls, and a beach park where the valley meets the sea.
Located16 miles east of Kaunakakai on Hwy. 450
On the National Register of Historic Places, the Iliiliopae Heiau is the second largest
heiau (Hawaiian temple) in Hawaii, after Piilanihale on Maui. The heiau is 320 feet long and
120 feet wide and was a site of human sacrifice. It is a well-preserved example of Hawaii's
ancient outdoor shrines - a learning center where kahuna (Hawaiian priests) from other islands
were tutored. The heiau is on private land and may be visited with permission.
This rocky headland immediately south of the Kaluakoi Hotel was once the location of a
heiau where kahuna (Hawaiian priests) studied navigation. Later, the pineapple companies had
a cable landing here, the cement foundations of which are still visible. An ancient village
around the slopes has been largely lost due to the golf course. Great place for watching sunsets.
KALAUPAPA NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK
P. O. Box 2222
Kalaupapa, HI 96742
(Central Molokai, North Shore)
Tel. (808) 567-6802
The park contains the Kalaupapa Peninsula, site of the historic Hansen's Disease (leprosy)
settlements of Kalaupapa and Kalawao, adjacent cliffs and valleys, and submerged lands and waters
out to 1/4 mile from shore. Spectacular north shore sea cliffs, narrow valleys, a volcanic crater,
rain forest, lava tubes and caves, and off-shore islands and waters are in the park. Several
of these areas provide rare native habitat for threatened or endangered Hawaiian plants and
animals. There are 8,725 acres of land and 2,000 acres of water within the park's authorized
boundary. Hawaiian people inhabited the peninsula and valleys for hundreds of years prior to
the establishment of the first isolation settlement at Kalawao in 1866. Evidence of this occupation
is relatively undisturbed and represents one of the richest archaeological preserves in Hawaii.
Listed below are other sites of interest in the park and park access requirements. For more
information, please visit the park's Web site.
- The Molokai Lighthouse, the tallest
U.S. lighthouse in the Pacific Ocean, stands on the northern
tip of the peninsula. Built in 1909, its 138-foot concrete tower
remains unchanged since its construction and is one of the few
original lighthouse structures still in use in Hawaii.
- The Park Visitor Center has interpretive
materials and artifact display cases. Wayside exhibits on the
peninsula's people, history and archaeology are located throughout
- The two churches: Siloama, established
in 1866, and Saint Philomena associated with the work of Father
Damien (Joseph De Veuster). Both are located in Kalawao on the
windward side of the peninsula.
- The Puu Uao Lookout which offers
a view of the Kauhako Crater claimed by limnologists to be one
of the most peculiar lakes in the world. The surface of the
lake is very near sea level and the bottom is over 800 feet
deep - the fourth deepest lake in the United States. Its deep
columnar tube, layered with fresh, brackish, and salt water,
is home to two species of native shrimp.
NOTE: Not only is access to the peninsula limited, but access to
the resources on the peninsula is limited. Visitors on the tour
learn mostly about the history of Hansen's disease in Hawaii and
its famous caregivers, especially Father Damien. There is little
opportunity to view, or to learn much about many of the other resources.
- There are three types of visitation at
the park: those who view the peninsula from the overlook at
Palaau State Park, visitors who tour historic Kalaupapa and
Kalawao through a commercial tour, and guests of residents.
- There is no vehicular access to the Kalaupapa
Peninsula. It is surrounded on 3 sides by ocean and on a 4th
side by a steep cliff (pali).
- There is a trail from topside Molokai down
the cliffs but the trail has a 1,700 feet elevation, is 3 miles
long and has 26 switchbacks resulting in a steep climb back!
Most accidents that occur are slips and falls while hiking down
the trail. During the wet season (usually in winter), the trail
can be very wet and slippery. The trail is accessed off Hwy.
470 near Palaau State Park and the Kalaupapa overlook.
- The park can be reached by air through
commercial and charter flights from Honolulu, Oahu, from Maui,
and from Hoolehua, Molokai. Some visitors arrive by private
boats. Others hike the steep Kalaupapa trail or arrange for
a mule ride tour through the Park Concessionaire Molokai Mule
Rides, Inc. Damien Tours, owned and operated by a Kalaupapa
resident, offers the commercial tour of Kalaupapa.
- The administration of the Hansen's disease
settlement and control of public access into the area are still
under the jurisdiction of the State Department of Health. All
visitors to the park must receive a permit from the Department
of Health to enter the Kalaupapa settlement. The commercial
tour company arranges the permit for their customers. Guests
of residents have their permits arranged by their sponsor.
- No children under age 16 are allowed on
Located at Kaluaaha on Highway 450.
The first Christian church on Molokai completed in 1844 by
the Protestant missionaries. Much of the church still stands, looking
like a fortress with its tiny slit windows and three-foot thick
plastered walls and buttresses.
Located at the end of Hwy. 470 in Palaau State Park
A huge phallic rock that protrudes from the ground amid an
ironwood stand. Phallic or fertility rocks are found on all the
Hawaiian islands, but this is the finest example. The rock's present
form is a natural configuration which has been carved to some extent.
Legend of the rock:
Many years ago the man Nanaloa and his wife Kawahuna lived on this
green hill of Puu Lua. One day a beautiful young girl appeared and
began to admire herself in a pool of water. Nanaloa watched admiringly
and the girl returned a smile to his reflection in the pool. Growing
jealous, the wife grabbed the young girl by the hair. Nanaloa hit
his wife in quick-tempered anger and sent her tumbling down a nearby
cliff where she turned to stone. Nanaloa also turned to stone, but
his power remains in this male rock. It is said if a woman goes
to Kauleonanahoa with offerings and spends the night, she will return
LUA NA MOKU ILIAHI (SANDALWOOD MEASURING PIT)
Located adjacent to the unsurfaced Maunahui Forest Reserve access
road to the Molokai Forest Reserve - approximately 9 miles from
Hwy. 460 within the Molokai Forest Reserve. Four-wheel drive required.
A 75-foot long boat-shaped pit from the reign of Kamehameha
the Great in the early 1800's when the sandalwood trade was flourishing.
A boat of foreign goods was bought by exchanging the amount of sandalwood
that would fill the pit. A reminder of the days of mindless exploitation.
Located in Kaunakakai - on the shoreline to the right of Kaunakakai
The remains of a vacation home that belonged to King Kamehameha
V. The King loved to visit Molokai, and introduced axis deer to
feed the Hawaiian people. Today, the only visible evidence of the
royal residence is a raised stone platform that was part of Malama's
foundation. The platform may have been a heiau (Hawaiian temple).
MOLOKAI MUSEUM & CULTURAL CENTER
P. O. Box 269
Kualapuu, HI 96757
Tel. (808) 567-6436
Located on Hwy. 470 at Mile Marker 4 (approx. 2 miles past
Kualapuu in Kalae Village - near Kalaupapa Overlook) The site of
the restored 1878 R. W. Meyer Sugar Mill with its mule-driven cane
crusher and operational steam engine. The cultural center has changing
displays and artifacts. Tours (nominal fee). Rudolph W. Meyer, a
German sugar planter and rancher who came to Molokai in 1848, lived
at Kalae and served as the Kalawao isolation settlement supervisor
from 1866 until his death in 1897. The sugar mill is listed on the
National Register of Historic Places.
THE NATURE CONSERVANCY OF HAWAII
At first glance, the dunes of Moomomi appear nearly barren.
However, in addition to the rare coastal species that grow at Moomomi,
there are numerous Hawaiian archaeological sites around Moomomi
Bay. The Nature Conservancy literature states:
- The Moomomi Preserve (921 acres)
is a last stronghold of a major Hawaiian coastal ecosystem,
a holdover from an ancient era. The ancient Hawaiians lived
seasonally at Moomomi as early as the 11th century and spent
the summer months at Moomomi catching and drying fish to see
them through winters too rough for fishing. Basalt chips still
remain along the beaches, evidence of adze tool making from
a nearby outcrop of exceptionally dense basalt. Today, local
residents still rely on the area for gathering fish, seaweed,
sea salt, and other resources.
- Nature Conservancy staff and volunteers
lead a monthly hike through this beach dune preserve. Hike leaders
will pick you up at the Molokai airport at 8:30 am, serve as
interpretive guides throughout the hike, and return you to the
airport by 3:30 pm. Advance reservations and a deposit are required.
Space is limited. Please call the Molokai office for more information
at 808-553-5236 or visit their Web site.
OUR LADY OF SORROWS CHURCH
Located at Kaluaaha on Highway 450.
A reconstruction of a church built by Father Damien in 1874.
The church is located on the exact same spot as the original and
utilizes some of the original corner stones placed by Father Damien.
Contains beautiful pen and ink drawings of the Stations of the
Cross imported from Holland.
SAINT JOSEPH CHURCH
Located east from Kaunakakai on Hwy. 450 at Kamalo - near Mile
Built in 1876 by Father Damien - outside is a black metal
sculpture of Damien, the saintly Belgian priest. The church is
on the National Register of Historic Places.
Located at Kalawao on the windward side of Kalaupapa National
The first church established for persons with Hansen's Disease
(leprosy) on Kalaupapa - the Protestant "Church of the Healing
Spring" (1866). The present church, third on the site, was
most recently renovated in 1966.
SMITH & BRONTE LANDING
Located 12 miles east of Kaunakakai on Hwy. 450
A plaque marks the spot where two pioneer aviators on the
first commercial Trans-Pacific flight made an emergency landing
ST. PHILOMENA'S CHURCH
Located at Kalawao on the windward side of Kalaupapa National
Assembled in Honolulu in 1872 and transported to Kalaupapa
before Father Damien's arrival. Father Damien expanded the church
and it is often referred to as "Father Damien's Church".
It is said that the revered priest installed cup-like spittoons
in the floor so that Hansen's Disease patients with congested
lungs could attend services indoors.