A lava rock structure surrounded by vegetation and pali in the background.
The heiau along Damien Road.

NPS / Glauco Puig-Santana

Quick Facts
Kalaupapa National Historical Park

Historical/Interpretive Information/Exhibits, Parking - Auto

A heiau is an ancient Hawaiian temple, a tall rock structure. To the northwest of this heiau is a pāahupuaʻa, a prehistoric Hawaiian land division. Both remind us of the peninsula's rich past. Archeological evidence shows that Hawaiians lived here 1,000 years ago, 900 years before the first patients arrived.

The ancient terraces, platforms, and walls found on the peninsula were probably used for homes, animal pens, field enclosures, and religious structures. Kalaupapa National Historical Park is one of Hawaii's most valuable prehistoric preserves.

In this location, look around for the native kī or ti plant. Early Hawaiians found many uses for the durable shiny leaves of the native ti plant. The ti plants found in and around these ruins were perhaps descended from plants used ceremonially by builders of a sacred heiau. Hawaiians traditionally used ti leaves to make house thatch, sandals, serving plates, and fishing nets. Hawaiians also used these plants and leaves to ward off evil. The plant's root was baked for food and distilled for liquor.

Kalaupapa National Historical Park

Last updated: December 4, 2022