A Historical Hike – Ko’a Heiau Holomoana

What started as a simple hike for exercise led to a truly unexpected experience from the ancient people of Hawaii. Usually on a hike, you hop on a trail, sweat a bit, see beautiful vistas and call it good. Not this time. This hike was special.

Ko’a Heiau Holomoana

I debated writing about this extraordinary place for fear that Ko’a Holomoana would not be respected but instead decided to showcase this sacred place so that it can be preserved, saved, and truly embraced by all in the future.

stonehenge of the hawaiian islands


We started our hike at Mahukona on the Big Island of Hawaii. Mahukona is located on the north side of the Big Island on route 270 at mile marker 15. This is a popular spot for locals and tourists for snorkeling, swimming, fishing, and scuba diving. I’m not a “water person,” so I tend to stay on dry land and get my exercise hiking.

beautiful ocean views from the hiking trail

The Trailhead

There were plenty of people at Mahukona enjoying their Sunday morning, so my husband and sister in law decided to avoid the crowds and continue around to the trailhead on the opposite side of some cement piers.

The trailhead is a wide, flat dirt road that meanders through remnants of an abandoned commercial harbor. Along the coastline, we were walking on the old railroad line. Even for a Sunday, the trail was void of hikers. The hike is easy, the path clearly marked, and the views are spectacular. Tucked away are coves and inlets on every turn and what appeared to be a tunnel or old lava tube.

big island hiking

The bluest sky and the multi-colors of the ocean are jaw-dropping until we saw some jetted upright stones on the side of the bluff. Having no clue as to what they were, we scampered up the side of the hill for an adventure. The trail is unmarked and made by footsteps through the grasslands.

hike to Ko’a holo moana

Little did we know what we had discovered.


Once I had arrived back home, I looked online for information. The correct name, I believe, is Ko’a Heiau Holomoana. There were other names referenced, but I believe this is the correct one. The Heiau is an actual, ancient navigational temple in Hawai’i.
Ko’a Holomoana on big island

This temple, or Heiau, served as a training ground for the Polynesian navigators a long time ago. The Polynesians navigated by their knowledge of the stars, tides, winds, ocean, colors of the sea, and by this navigational Heiau. Reading further, the Heiau served as a gun emplacement site for the US military during World War II.

As a realtor, I was rather saddened to read that foreign developers own this piece of land and have plans to develop a resort. The desecration of this historical landmark, in my opinion, is an atrocity. In researching further, there isn’t much information on the Heiau because so many sacred histories of oral-based traditions have vanished due to not being recorded properly. As a result, native people have had their history disappear right before their eyes by western civilization.  With such a loss of recorded history, this landmark may vanish and contribute to the demise of the Hawaiian people and their culture.

Ko’a Holomoana made such an impression on me that I’m going to research it further. To know more about the stones themselves, the history, and how they were used by the seafarers is fascinating to me. Which islands did they point to? When was it discovered? There’s also an organization that protects the Heiau and a group getting started to save this sacred place.
hike to Ko’a Holomoana on big island

I hope you enjoyed my blog about Ko’a Holomoana. The Big Island of Hawaii is home to many of these ”cherished wonders” that I will continue to explore. Please have respect for this sacred place, the islands, and its history, so that we all can learn and enjoy the culture of the Hawaiian people into the future.

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