Kealakowaa (the path of the canoe) is possibly the only surviving canoe-making heiau that can be found today in the state of Hawaii. It stands within a complex of several stone walls and platforms that once made up a kukula aa (canoe-building compound). This site is positioned on an old Hawaiian trail that once led from Mokuaikaua Forest above to Holualoa Bay below. Kuakini Highway, surveyed in the mid-1950s, was realigned mauka to avoid destroying this unique structure.
The Polynesians were master canoe builders. Wherever they settled across the wide Pacific, they learned how to use local trees and plant fibers to make canoes of sleek design and durability. Migrating Polynesians found a beautiful endemic tree to carve in Hawaii, the mighty acacia koa. Once growing luxuriantly across Kona’s upper slopes, vast stands of koa have been decimated by sheep and cattle during the last 200 years.
The Kona Outdoor Circle now maintains this heiau as a historic site. Visitors may park in the organization’s parking lot and tour the site at any time. The entrance to the Kona Outdoor Circle is at the junction of Kuakini and Queen Kaahumanu highways.
Copyright 1998 Kona Historical Society. Reprinted by permission.