Pu'ukohola, rising above the ocean on the northwest coast of the island of Hawaii is one of the few remaining heiaus, or temples, left from the early days of Hawaiian civilization. This particular temple was built by King Kamehameha I—the first Hawaiian king to unite the tribes throughout the islands under one ruler—in the late 18th century.
An interpretive trail takes visitors near what remains of the once-great stone temple—and offers spectacular views of the harbor and the ocean beyond. While the heiau is now in ruins, it's easy to imagine, looking out toward the sea, how it must have been in its heyday two centuries ago when kings and priests walked the same trails.
The site also includes a very tiny Visitors' Center with an informative documentary presentation, and the homestead of John Young, an advisor to King Kamehameha I, who built the first Western (non-Hawaiian) structure in Hawaii.
—Laura Connors, NPCA
If You Go
In addition to commemorating King Kamehameha I and his extraordinary temple, the site also celebrates traditional Hawaiian culture. Try to plan your visit around the annual Hawaiian Cultural Festival in August, or on one of the other days when the site offers demonstrations of traditional crafts.