Keaīwa Heiau


brochure Keaīwa Heiau - Guide
PARK SETTING Keaïwa Heiau State Recreation Area is a 384-acre park located approximately 12 miles from Waikïkï. Follow H-1 to Moanalua Highway (Hwy. 78). Take the ‘Aiea cutoff to the third traffic light, make a right turn at ‘Aiea Heights Drive and follow it about 3 miles up to the end of the road. Keaïwa Heiau is located at the park entry. Continue along the paved park road to the campgrounds, picnic areas, and trailhead for the ‘Aiea Loop Trail. The groves of Norfolk pines and eucalyptus trees create a forest recreation environment on the hills above the town of ‘Aiea and Pearl Harbor. A resident caretaker near the front gate should be contacted in the event of emergencies. CAMPING & PICNICKING There are 4 campsites available for tent camping from Friday through Wednesday. Camping is by permit only. Camping permits may be obtained from the State Parks office in Honolulu (587-0300) or online at There is a fee per campsite per night. Please check the State Parks website for rates and availability. Several picnic areas with tables are found along the paved roadway in the park. Some include pavilions with barbeque grills and restrooms nearby. KEAIWA HEIAU Keaïwa Heiau is a medicinal or healing heiau known as a heiau ho‘ola. At this site, the kahuna (priest, expert) specializing in healing would diagnose and treat various illnesses and injuries. The kahuna would also train haumana (students) in the practice of la‘au lapa‘au, medicinal healing using plants, fasting, and prayers. Many of the plants and herbs were collected from the neighboring forest while others were planted around the heiau. The name Keaïwa has been translated as mysterious or incomprehensible. Perhaps, this name refers to the fact that one could not explain the powers of the kahuna and the herbs used in healing. It is unknown when this heiau was built but one source suggests that it was constructed in the 16th Century by Kakuhihewa, an ali‘i (chief) of O‘ahu, and his kahuna Keaïwa. The 4-foot high stacked rock wall encloses the sacred area that measures 100 by 160 feet. Within the enclosure was a hälau (large thatched structure) built for the master kahuna to store the medicinal implements and train the students. Other features might include hale (small thatched structure) and a puholoholo (steam bath). KEAIWA HEIAU STATE RECREATION AREA PRESERVE HAWAI‘I’S PAST FOR THE FUTURE PARK HOURS HIKING The ‘Aiea Loop Trail is 4.8-mile trail that begins and ends in the park. This trail runs along the ridge on the west side of Hälawa Valley and offers views from Pearl Harbor (Pu‘uloa) and the Wai‘anae Range to Honolulu and Diamond Head (Lë‘ahi). Much of this area was replanted by foresters in the late 1920s. The lemon eucalyptus trees give the air a light lemony fragrance. Stands of Norfolk Island pine trees mark the lower end of the trail. Look for the native koa and ‘öhi‘a trees as you reach Pu‘u Uau, the high point about midway along the length of the trail. You might also see remnants of a B-24 bomber that crashed in 1944. This hike is not strenuous but involves some gradual uphill climbs with a steep switchback and stream crossing at the end of the trail. The trail may be muddy with sections of exposed tree roots. Give yourself about 2.5 to 3 hours for the hike and enjoy the plants and the sound of birds around you. Bring water and wear good walking shoes. Be prepared for light passing rain showers. Stay on the designated trail and avoid side trails and short-cuts. The kahuna and haumana lived and worked under strict kapu (restrictions). Women were not allowed in the heiau but could receive training outside the heiau. An apprentice learned the art of diagnosis by practicing on pebbles which a kahuna laid out on a mat in the form of the human body. Pupils learned in this way how to feel out with their fingers the symptoms of the various illnesses. It might take 15 years for a student to become fully trained in the art of healing. The heiau was badly damaged during World War II when soldiers camping nearby took many stones from the heiau to build a road. The heiau was “rededicated” in 1951 and an effort was made to re-establish the historical setting with plantings of medicinal plants. As you visit the heiau, please show respect and do not move, remove or wrap the rocks. We ask that you not leave coins, incense, candles or other such items as they are not traditional offerings and may cause long-term damage to the site. April 1 to Labor Day: 7:00am to 7:45pm After Labor Day to March 31: 7:00am to 6:45pm For further information or permits contact: Department of Land & Natural Resources Division of State Parks 1151 Punchbowl Street, Room 310 Honolulu, Hawai‘i 96813 Phone: (808) 587-0300 (Drawing by Joseph Feher, in Ka Po‘e Kahiko by S.M. Kamakau) Visit our website at: ‘AIEA, O‘AHU ‘Aiea Loop Trail Map

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