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Places In Oahu: Keaiwa Heiau State Park

Basic Information

  • Name: Keaiwa Heiau State Park
  • Where: Aiea, Hawaii
  • Cost: Free
  • More Information: State Park website

Narrative

Before the arrival of Europeans the Hawaiian people had a religious system that featured many temples spread out across the islands.  Many of these temples called a “heiau” can still be seen today on all the Hawaiian islands.  On Oahu one of these heiaus has been turned into a popular state park.  The Keaiw Heiau State Park is located in the Aiea neighborhood of Honolulu on Oahu.  The road up to the state park can be a little difficult to find, but the trick is to find Aiea Heights Drive and follow it all the way to the park:

Aiea Heights Drive ends at the park where the Keaiwa Heiau is the first thing visitors will see when entering the park:

Pictures from the Keaiwa Heiau

I parked in the lot near the park’s entrance and my family and I walked over to the heiau.  In front of the heiau was this marker:

Picture from Keaiwa Heiau

The marker said: “A temple with life giving powers believed to be a center where the Hawaiian Kahuna Lapaau or herb doctor practiced the art of healing herbs grown in nearby gardens were compounded and prescribed with prayer.” So basically the Keaiwa Heiau was a traditional hospital for ancient Hawaiians:

Picture from Keaiwa Heiau

The name “Keaiwa” is Hawaiian for “mysterious” which is what many ancient Hawaiians may have thought about the healing properties of the herbs used at the the temple.  Today the rock walls and foundations for the huts is all that remains of the heiau:

Picture from Keaiwa Heiau

Visitors are allowed to walk around inside of the heiau, but are forbidden from touching any of the stones:

Picture from Keaiwa Heiau

Many of the stones have religious significance to native Hawaiian cultural practitioners so I made sure my two young kids were respectful when walking around the heiau:

Picture from Keaiwa Heiau

Picture from Keaiwa Heiau

After my family and I finished checking out the heiau we next decided to walk around the park’s perimeter road as well:

Pictures from the Keaiwa Heiau

The road offers a nice walk through the beautiful forest that surrounds the park:

Pictures from the Keaiwa Heiau

According to the park’s website much of this area was replanted by foresters in the late 1920s. The lemon eucalyptus trees and Norfolk Island pines are the most common trees seen in the park.  At the top of the paved loop road is the trailhead for the Aiea Loop Trail:

I have previously hiked around this 4.8 mile loop trail.  You can read more about my hike on this great trail at the below link:

My youngest is three years old and the distance on the trail is a bit longer than he can handle at this point.  So we decided to hike about a half mile up the trail to a lookout before turning around.  Before we headed down the trail we stopped to take a look at the marker that memorializes the crew of a US Army B-24 that crashed on this mountain on May 5, 1944 killing 10-people:

Pictures from the Keaiwa Heiau

Along the first section of the trail the vegetation is dominated by many large eucalyptus trees:

Pictures from the Keaiwa Heiau

On one of the trees you could see some of the color coming out of it:

Pictures from the Keaiwa Heiau

Here is a closer look:

Pictures from the Keaiwa Heiau

Further up the trail some very large Norfolk Pine tree could be seen as well:

Pictures from the Keaiwa Heiau

Pictures from the Keaiwa Heiau

We continued up the trail continuing to enjoy the lush Hawaiian rainforest:

Pictures from the Keaiwa Heiau

Pictures from the Keaiwa Heiau

Here is a picture of a large ironbark tree along the trail:

Pictures from the Keaiwa Heiau

After about a half mile we did reach the lookout where much of the view was obscured by clouds and it actually began to drizzle on us:

Pictures from the Keaiwa Heiau

So we turned around and quickly headed back down the trail towards the road.  Back on the road we began walking back down the hill towards our car parked at the heiau.  Along the way we passed this picnic table surrounded by ironbark trees:

Pictures from the Keaiwa Heiau

At the bottom of the hill near the heiau we then passed by a very large grove of Norfolk Pine trees:

Pictures from the Keaiwa Heiau

These trees grew to a very high height and was amazed by how closely these trees are able to grow next to each other:

Pictures from the Keaiwa Heiau

Pictures from the Keaiwa HeiauPictures from the Keaiwa Heiau

Conclusion

My family and I spent about an hour and a half at the Keaiwa Heiau State Park checking out the heiau and walking around the park.  We had a great time learning a little bit of Hawaiian culture and enjoying the fresh air and scenery of the park.  Every time I have visited the park I have always found it uncrowded which is another nice attribute of this park.  So for locals looking to enjoy a park without the tourist crowds seen at places such as Manoa Falls and Diamond Head, Keaiwa Heiau State Park is well worth checking out.

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