Kukaniloko Birthing Stones
About Kukaniloko Birthing Stones
One of Oahu’s most cultural significant and sacred sites, the Kukaniloko Birthing Stones covers an area of 0.5 acres near Wahiawa, featuring over 180 sacred stones.
At Kukaniloko, Hawaiian alii came here to give birth to royal children, and any child born at this sacred location would be guaranteed a high-ranking status in society. A State of Hawaii brochure describes the royal birthing process at Kukaniloko as follows:
The birth of a child at Kukaniloko was witnessed by 36 chiefs. Immediately after birth, the child was taken to the nearby waihau heiau of Hoolonopahu (Note: the heiau is no longer in existence) where purification rites and the cutting of the umbilical cord were overseen by 48 chiefs.
Kukaniloko was one of two places in Hawaii specifically designated for the birth of high ranking children. The other site was Holoholoku at Wailua on Kauai. These royal birthing sites maintained the antiquity and purity of the chiefly lineages on Oahu and Kauai.
The birthsite consisted of 2 rows of 18 stones for the 36 chiefs. The kuapuu or backrest stone was named Kukanilko.
The Kukaniloko Birthing Stones have existed for nearly 900 years, dating back to when high chief Kapawa was born at this royal birthsite circa 1100 AD. One of the last birthing attempts by a royal chief was made by Kamehameha I in 1797 when he tried for his successor, Liholiho, to be born.
Recognized in the listing of the site on the National and Hawai’i Registers of Historic Places. In 1992, a five acre area of land encompassing Kukaniloko was acquired by the State of Hawaii. The site is registered on the National Register of Historic Places.
Facts & Trivia
- Island: Oahu
- Duration: When time allows, our Oahu Circle Island tours stop here.
- Amenities: A few public parking spots are available.
- Insider Tip: If youre visiting the Dole Pineapple Pavilion, drive a little further down the road and make a stop at Kukaniloko.
- Fun Fact: In Hawaiian, Kukaniloko means "To anchor the cry from within."
- What to Expect: A red dirt path leading to the birthing site opens up to a gorgeous ceremonial area, surrounded by tall grasses with the view of the Waianae Mountains in the distance.