Along Route 56, just before the Coco Palms Hotel, a tall stand of palms on the east side of the river marks the heiau. On-site are the Hau`ola O Honaunau and Hikina O Kala Heiau. The first was a place of refuge, where kapu (taboo) breakers or soldiers on the losing end of a battle could seek refuge and be forgiven for all wrongdoings. After a kahuna cleansed their souls, the individuals could return to society with a clean bill of spiritual health.
A few miles north of Hanamaulu, you’ll pass Wailua River State Park and arrive at the oceanside town of Wailua, a place that abounds with historic sites and attractions. At one time there were at least seven heiau from the river to the top of Mt. Waialeale. Religious processions would make the trek to the top, stopping at each heiau along the way.
Just as Route 580 veers inland, look for the Holo Holo Ku Heiau, one of Kauai’s oldest. While some ancient heiau were places of refuge, this was not. Here those unfortunate criminals of war or kapu breakers were sacrificed to the gods. Look in the corner for the large flat rock that was the altar of the heiau.
A guardrail leads up the hill behind the heiau to a Japanese cemetery, and beyond that, the large rocks were known as royal birthing stones. Wives of ali`i came here when they were about to deliver their babies, thinking that this area possessed great mana, or spirit.
Legend says Poliahu Heiau, just a few minutes’ drive on Route 580, is another structure built by the industrious menehune. Today all that’s left is an overgrown enclosure surrounded by walls. Down the ridge from here are the Royal Bellstones, rung whenever an ali`i gave birth.
It is a nice beach that was adjacent to our hotel (the Outrigger). As I understand it, this is a part of the park. We didn't make it inland. At this spot there really isn't great swimming, but it is scenic and a nice place to hang out on the beach and relax. As I recall there were picnic tables and there was shade from the palm trees. We didn't feel there was much to keep us there, but if you need a place to stop for a lunch, might be a good option. One cool thing that can happen is Monk Seals will lay on the beach in this area. Since they are protected a barrier is often established to keep folks a good distance, but they are pretty fun to see and the kids go crazy for them (so do the adults!).