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11 May 2022
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Kauai Attractions

Heiau in Hawaii


If you're looking to dive into more of Hawaii's history and culture during your vacation to Kauai, visiting a heiau (temples dedicated to the worship of traditional Hawaiian gods) is a great way to gain knowledge about an important part of Hawaii's culture.

What is a Heiau?

Heiau are temples built to worship traditional Hawaiian gods. There are many types of heaius, each serving their own purpose. For example, some were to treat the sick, offerings for rain or crops, in times of war, and more. Larger heiau were built by ali'i (chiefs) and largest heiau (the lukaini heiau) was only constructed and dedicated by an ali'i 'ai moku. 

What are the Different Types of Heiau?

  • Heiau po'o kanaka were used for human sacrifices, luakini, in honor of Kūkā'ilimoku, the God of War.
  • Heiau waikaua was used in times of war in honor of the God of War.
  • Heiau ho'oulu ua were used as offerings for rain.
  • Heiau ho'oulu 'ai were used as offerings for food or crops.
  • Heiau hō'ola were used as offerings for treating the sick.

Do Heiau Exist Today?

Several heiau were destroyed at the official end of Hawaiian religion in 1819, however some of these heiau were restored. 

What Heiau Can I Visit in Kauai?

The Wailua Compex of Heiaus in Wailua River State Park was a site that was once a hub for religious, political, and economic activity developed by early Hawaiians. Four heiaus remain standing which are sacred places of worship each with their own functions such as a place of refuge, birthstone, and a bellstone.

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