Ahu’ena Heiau was site of the Capital of Hawai’i from 1812 -1819.
King Kamehameha built Ahu’ena Heiau as his personal temple to Lono, the god of peace and prosperity. It was much larger in scale to what has been rebuilt and is on display today.
From the book Ancient Sites of Hawai’i by Van James:
“The name Aheu’ena means “hill of fire” or “red hot heap” and its is the fite of a fifteenth century heiau luakini.”
“The restored heiau has a hard hale mana (place of psiritual powers), a wicker lele (alter), an ‘anu’u tower and several wooden ki’i (carved figures). The carved images with the plover bird on its head is the god of war. A sacred drum called Apahou, decorated with human teeth, was house here at Ahu”ene. Pigs, bananas, coconuts, and men were offered as sacrifices at luankini heiau. ”
From the book Exploring Lost Hawaii by Ellie and William Crowe:
“Kamehameha the Great appreciated the ocean view. He made his fanial home at this pretty cove in 1812 and maintained a permanent residence here until his death seven years later. …On May 8, 1819 Kamehameha the Great died. The kingdom was stunned and grief striken. Some chiefs requested that they be hurried with him. many people knowcked out their fonts teeth in grief, and some tattooed the date on their bodies. The king’s bones were stripped of flesh on the mortuary platform and prepared for burial. Hoapili, a kahuna, the one of the kings most trusted ali’i , were entrusted to hide the bones. They are said to be hidden in a cave and have never been found.”
“After Kamehameha’s death, it was this heiau that his son Liholiho, reluctantly sat down with the strong willed Queen Ka’ahumanu and his gentle mother, Queen Keopuolani and ate a meal on the formal occasion. The Hawaiian people were shocked at this public act of defiance–the ancient kapu of men eating with women had been broken. But no gods retaliated, and as a result the whole kapu system was overthown.”
Ahu’ena was carefully restored in 1975, at a cost of a quarter of a million dollars. It is a National Historic Landmark that can be easily approached from the King Kamehameha Kona Beach Hotel, 75-5660 Palani Road, Kailua-Kona and there are daily guided tours offered, call 808-329-2911 or you can wander the grounds on your own.