The Hawaiian Islands are full of history and heritage, and Kauai is no exception. Known for its lush valleys and gardens, Kauai has plenty to be admired. Although you might find yourself drawn to the beaches and trails while visiting this island, leave some room for the sacred sites and locations on the island. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to witness beaches, rivers, and trails — all while taking in the history and culture that made Kauai what it is today. Remember to be respectful when visiting these locations, and treat each spot with the utmost care.
Here are 7 sacred sites to visit in Kauai:
Sacred Rudraksha Forest
At Kauai’s Hindu Monastery, you’ll find yourself walking along the Sacred Rudraksha Forest. 108 planted trees with Gurudeva’s own hands, this forest was dedicated to Kauaians and pilgrims. These Rudraksha trees can reach heights up towards 100 feet, although the ones in this particular forest aren’t fully matured yet and only reach about 50 to 60 feet. Hundreds of fruits also come from these trees, with fruit such as Blue Marble.
Against the Wailua River Valley, you’ll find yourself amongst Hikinaakala Heiau. Meaning “rising of the sun”, some of the most beautiful sunrises will pop up around this location near Lydgate Beach Park. What is said to be a formal ancient temple, this sacred site is ideal for learning about the religious history of Hawaii as well as culture. Don’t climb any of these stones, as they are known to be sacred — but instead, treat each piece of this area with respect and the want to learn.
This historic Hawaiian fishpond known as Menehune Fishpond, also Alakoko Fishpond, is named after a small race of people known as the Menehune. The ponds were used to create a dam to trap fish to feed Hawaiian royalty over 1,000 years ago. If you want, you can go kayaking or canoeing on the pond or you can simply take in the history of the Menehune. Be sure to check out the fishpond wall, which was created 900 feet across and five feet high.
This place of worship truly transcends you into the past. Poli’ahu Heiau is a sacred site on the way to Opaeka’a Falls. This location was part of the seven ancient Hawaiian Temples and offers magnificent views of the river and peaks of the Wailua River. See the ancient structure to witness how Hawaiians once lived and explore the lands of the former temple.
What was believed to be used for human sacrifices, Holoholoku Heiau is a sacrificial heiau of ancient Hawaii. Sacrifices of war prisoners given up mostly to the God Ku — this heiau is intriguing for those who want to learn and appreciate the battles of Hawaii. The Holoholoku Heiau was also known as a seek of refuge for those fleeing after committing a crime.
Pohakuho Ohanau (Royal Birthstones)
A site where kings were born, the Pohakuho Ohanau (also known as the Royal Birthstones), is extremely sacred to the Hawaiian people. The ritual took place after the baby king was born, the umbilical cord would get cut, and then they would stick it into a crack into the rock wall. To determine if the baby would be a thief or not would depend on if the rat would come and take the cord or not. Nearby this sacred site, there are stairs that lead to a cemetery.
Maniniholo Dry Cave
Named after the head fisherman of the Menehune, Maniniholo Dry Cave was said to be dug to catch the evil spirit that would take their fish away. There is also another tale that claims that the Menehune and Polynesian settlers were in a conflict and the Menehune used this secret tunnel to escape — with a collapse created at the tunnel ceiling. With so many different explanations, it’s clear that this cave is an extraordinary site of Hawaiian legends.
After a day full of learning, you’ll feel uplifted with the knowledge that you have gained. These sacred locations of Kauai have an abundance of history, mixed in with folklore and old legends. Respect the island, understand its history, and fuel up on more fun after that!
Where should you eat to fuel up after a day of history? Check out these Kauai restaurants and decide!