Located in North Kohala near the towns of Kapaau and Hawi, both Mookini Heiau and the nearby Birthplace of King Kamehameha I are part of the Kohala Historical Sites State Monument. These historic sites are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and also designated as a National Historic Landmark.
Mookini Heiau is situated near Upolu Point which is the island’s northernmost spot. The heiau is thought to have been built around 500 A.D. using lava rocks that were passed hand-to-hand from Pololu Valley about 12 miles (19 km) away.
Mookini Heiau measures 125 feet (38 m) by 259 feet (79 m) and up to 25 feet (7.6 m) high. The heiau’s walls are up to 10 feet (3 m) thick. About 1,500 years ago a smaller temple stood on the site and then around the 12th century a larger structure was created by the Tahitian priest Paao who introduced the practice of human sacrifice to Hawaii.
Paao then returned to Tahiti and came back with Pili who became the ruler of Hawaii Island and sired the royal line that created a 700 year dynasty including King Kamehameha I.
Mookini means “Many lineages” and the heiau was dedicated to the war god Kukailimoku. A few hundred yards from Mookini is the Birthplace of King Kamehameha I.
Mookini Heiau is located at Upolu Point about 2 miles (3 km) from the town of Hawi. From Kawaihae follow Akoni Pule Hwy. (Hwy. 270) north and turn left at the Upolu Airport sign near Mile Marker 20 on Upolu Point Road near Hawi.
Turn left (west) on the unmarked dirt road just before the small air strip and follow it about two miles. A four-wheel-drive vehicle is recommended, particularly if it has been raining.