Halekiʻi-Pihana Heiau is the hilltop ruins of two of Maui’s most important heiau (ancient stone temples). The site was the royal court of Kahekili, Maui’s last ruling chief, and the birthplace of Keopuolani, wife of Kamehameha the Great. After his victory at the battle of ʻIao in 1790, Kamehameha marched to this site to worship his war god Ku, offering the last human sacrifice on Maui.
With this history, it is surprising to find the site overgrown and nearly forgotten. Even the parking lot is closed. Yet, surprisingly, the ravages of time add something to the visit. Instead of merging with another bus tour group, you’ll likely be by yourself, reflecting on the contrast between these ancient temples and the modern suburb lapping at their doorstep. Concentrate on the wild ocean and mountain vistas, and you might notice a certain mana (spiritual essence) still permeating the air.
The site is about 2 miles northeast of central Wailuku. From Waiehu Beach Rd (Hwy 340), turn inland onto Kuhio Pl, then take the first left (Hea Pl, missing sign) and park near the end on the residential street. Follow the closed road up to the site. Halekiʻi, the first heiau, has stepped stone walls that tower above ʻIao Stream, the source for the stone used in its construction. The pyramid-like mound of Pihana Heiau is a five-minute walk beyond. Some faded placards provide historical background. A round-trip is a quarter mile.