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5 must-see Oahu historic sites you haven't been to yet


It’s not uncommon to walk right past an important archaeological site on Oahu and not even know it.

It happens all the time in Waikiki.

Right outside of a police substation on Kalakaua Avenue, near the beachside statue of Hawaii Olympian Duke Kahanamoku, stands a cluster of rocks. Most people walk right past the four stones, surrounded by a metal fence. Actually healing stones, the pohaku (sacred stones) are a part of Hawaiian history and culture.

The legend of the pohaku tells of four healers—Kapaemahu, Kapuni, Kinohi and Kahaloa—who arrived from Tahiti, settled in Waikiki and became renowned throughout Oahu. Eventually planning their return to Tahiti, the healers wanted their presence and power to remain on Oahu in a tangible form. So they placed their healing powers—or mana—in each of these stones to be used by the Hawaiian people in their absence.

The stones were lost for decades and later found after the demolition of a bowling alley in 1958. (They were used in the building’s foundation.) The stones were relocated to Waikiki’s Kuhio Beach in 1963, then moved in 1980 to where they remain today.

Inaccruately called “wizarding stones,” this important archaeological site is now called Na Pohaku Ola Kapaemahu a Kapuni.

Travel around Oahu and you’ll find even more culturally and historically significant sites. Some are more accessible than others, but all are worth visiting.

Here are five to get you started:


Ulupo Heiau State Historic Site

You wouldn’t expect to find a heiau (a Hawaiian temple) right behind a YMCA. But that’s exactly where you’ll find Ulupo Heiau, the second-largest such temple on Oahu.

The structure, located in the Windward Oahu town of Kailua, measures 140 feet by 180 feet with walls up to 30 feet in height. Built on the eastern edge of protected Kawai Nui Marsh, another site important to the Hawaiian culture, Ulupo Heiau may be more than 400 years old.

According to legend, the heiau was built by menehune (a legendary race of little people in the Islands). Oahu chiefs such as Kakuhihewa and Kualii participated in ceremonies at this sacred site, later abandoned in the 1780s when O‘ahu was conquered by Kamehameha the Great. The structure’s origins may have been as an agricultural heiau, with springs feeding crops of taro, sweet potato and banana. Kualii, however, may have converted it in his time to a heiau luakini (sacrificial temple), with an altar, an oracle tower and wooden images.

Next page: Heeia Fishpond

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All Hawaii National Park Service sites now open following end of fed shutdown
Entrance fees to be waived at three Hawaii national park sites for five days next week

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