Tour of Pu’ukoholā Heiau NHS and Two Public Beaches

Friday, April 28, 2023

E komo mai (welcome) friends, to my Travel Friday’s B.R.E.A.T.H.S. blog where I share my traveling experiences from driving across the United States from September 2020 through June 2022. Since the next month of May is recognized as Pacific Islander Heritage Month, I will get a jumpstart and dedicate the four Friday’s in April to discussing the National Parks I visited found on The Big Island of Hawaii in July 2021.  

The Big Island National Parks Hawaii

The first week in April, I shared my experience exploring Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park on the Southside of the Big Island. The second week, I discussed Hawaii’s history I learned from Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park on the Southwest side. Last week I was sharing about Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park located on the West side, just North of Kona. This final week, I am discussing the park located on the Northwest tip called Pu’ukoholā Heiau National Historic Site  and two public beaches nearby.

Pu’ukoholā Heiau National Historic Site

On July 13, 2021, my last day on the Big Island, my friends who live there went on a tour with me to Pu’ukoholā Heiau National Historic Site. Although I did a walking tour of the site, today I am providing a digital tour with pictures, videos, and background history. Read along to explore Pu’ukoholā Heiau, The Temple on the Hill of the Whale ruled by Hawaiian Chief Warriors, which is what you can learn when you are at their visitor’s center, walking the trail along the temple and shorelines, or searching website (NPS, 2023).  


Hawaii’s Chief Warriors 

Mid April, I wrote a blog post about the early history of Hawaii. This week, I am writing about one of the last places influenced by the Hawaiian Chief Warriors, especially King Kamehameha, who climbed to power by defeating several invaders including four other chiefs (ali’i) with armies (na ali’i koa and na koa) and a couple foreign captains (NPS, 2023). King Kamehameha started building Pu’ukoholā Heiau as the end of the civil war and beginning of a reunited Hawaiian Islands (NPS, 2023). That was until 1779 when Captain James Cook sailed into Hawaii (NPS, 2023)

“The Temple on the Hill of the Whale” (NPS, 2023):

  • 1600-1778 – With one ali’i, Hawaii is united 

  • 1779 – everything changes with the arrival of foreign visitors, the islands separate with different chief warrior rulers on each of the islands

  • 1790 Hawaiian Islands Unite under King Kamehameha’s rule

  • 1790-91 Pu’ukoholā Heiau was built

    • known as “The Temple on the Hill of the Whale”

      • was the final sacred site built to please the war God:

        •  Kuka’ilimoku (ku)

      • protect the islands

      • intimidate invaders

  • 1810 the Hawaiian Islands were reunified 

  • 1819 The area was demolished after King Kamaehameha’s death and the arrival of Christian missionaries

  • 1928 Pu’ukoholā Heiau established as a National Park and Hawaiian Landmark

Spencer Beach Park

Hapuna Beach State Park

Tour of Two Public Beaches

Following our hike around Pu’ukoholā Heiau, we went over to Spencer Beach Park to walk around, it was kinda small, secluded, no close restrooms, but relaxing and gorgeous. Next, we drove a bit further south to Hapuna Beach State Park. That is a large public beach with restrooms, ocean sports, beach lounging, and cave snorkeling. We had a great time till the sun went down. See parks and beaches in video below.

Conclusion on The Big Island National Parks

We have covered the Northwest corner at Pu’ukoholā Heiau, following the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail down the west side past Kaloko-Honokōhau and Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau, to the Southern area where the the Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park stands now. Due to the ever changing landscape from the active volcanoes, The Big Island will continue to preserve as much culture, history, and environment as they can with the help of the National Park System, Natives, locals, and visitors of the parks.


Thank you for reading and viewing,

Dr. Jaime Brainerd, E.d.D.


National Park Service. (2023). Pu’ukoholā Heiau National Historic Park. Information retrieved from pamphlet and website.

About the Author

Dr. Brainerd

Hello, I am Dr. Jaime Brainerd Ed.D., a lifelong learner, beauty consultant, author, financial specialist, artist, traveler, health enthusiast, and self care advocate. Please follow my website for my B.R.E.A.T.H.S. blogs.

2 thoughts on “Tour of Pu’ukoholā Heiau NHS and Two Public Beaches

  1. I’ve been to Kaui, Oahu, Maui and the Big Island. The Big Island just has this incredible vibe to it and the heiaus have this weird, incredible energy. Even my husband, who is not woo-woo in any way, shape or form, felt it. Thanks for sharing!

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