Mo’okini Heiau — Hike To The Birthplace of King Kamehameha

Hiking on the Big Island of Hawai'i

What a blessing it is to live on this beautiful island, with natural beauty everywhere you look. With 10 climate zones (according to the Koppen Climate Classification System), you can go from snow to surf in a matter of hours. This provides a multitude of options for those who want to get some fresh air, stunning scenery, and maybe a light (if you are in my kind of shape) to vigorous (not if you are in my kind of shape) workout by taking one of the many hikes this Island has to offer. On a recent overcast day, we decided to take the hike to the birthplace of King Kamehameha I (Kamehameha the Great), and the Mo’okini Heiau.

Where To Find The Trail

The hiking trail/road is along the coastline just off Highway 270 in Hawi, beginning near the Upolu Airport. Round trip to Kamehameha’s birthplace, which is beyond the Mo’okini Heiau, is just under 4 miles. There are no trees over the trail, so if you decide to go on a clear, sunny day, be sure to wear a hat, put on plenty of sunscreen, and take water. There are no services along the trail (some might call it a road, but that is a stretch), and even with the winds that whip along the coast, it can be very warm. Thankfully for us, it was overcast and windy, so the hike itself was pleasant. It is a mostly level trail (elevation gain of about 200 feet), but if there have been recent rains, there may be areas of deep mud to go around.

What Footwear Is Best?

Most times of the year, you could probably do the hike in your favorite slippahs, but if it has rained, you may want to go with tennis shoes. The birthplace itself is a modest set of rock remnants, but you can feel the mana as you stand and let the wind embrace you. The heiau, though, is definitely impressive in its size and bloody history (it is said that thousands of human sacrifices were made there). I took a moment to appreciate the craftsmanship and durability of the structure, while also paying my respects to those who were sacrificed over the centuries. I would consider this an easy hike on a cool, overcast day; slightly more challenging on a clear, sunny day. Either way, it was on my list of places to visit, and I am glad to have completed it. Just one of the many scenic and historic trails we can enjoy on our island home.

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