Over the summer I took my kids and some friends to the heiau in Kailua but didn’t get a chance to blog about it until now. (For those who don’t know, a heiau is a temple built and used by ancient Hawaiians.) I’d driven by it countless times and even peeked at it from the YMCA pool area but had never taken the time to check it out.
From the top it is an impressive foundation of stones, upon which wooden structures are thought to have been built when it was in use. But it’s when you walk around to the lower side of the heiau that it’s massive size can really be appreciated. It is clear that a lot of time and energy went into building this place.
My kids would have loved to climb around on the rocks of the heiau, but out of respect for the site and those who hold it sacred I took them down the path below the heiau to explore there instead. There are a number of taro patches planted below the heiau and it was interesting to see the taro in various stages of growth and to check out the ditch irrigation system that waters them all.
The path ends at the Kawainui marsh where it is built out onto the marsh for a short ways, similar to Na Pohaku O Hauwahine which can be seen from this spot.
This was a fun spot to spend time outdoors and teach my children a little about ancient Hawaiian culture at the same time.
Do it yourself on Oahu:
• Directions: Tour buses use a pull-out on Kailua Road to get to the heiau, but if you have a car it is better to park at the Kailua YMCA. Coming from Kailua on Kailua Road, take a right on Uluoa St., another right on Manu Aloha St., and one last right on Manu Oo St. which will end in the YMCA parking lot. Take the sidewalk to the left of the YMCA building which will lead you to the entrance to the heiau.
• Here is the Hawaii State Parks’ website for the Ulupo Heiau State Historic Site.
• There are no restrooms or other facilities here.