Kukaniloko Hawaiian Birthing Stones on Oahu

Kukaniloko Birthing Stones

In the middle of a sugar cane field in central Oahu, you’ll find a sacred site – the Kukaniloko birthing stones. The sign at this site says that as many as 800 years ago, chiefs and chiefesses came to this site for the birth of their children. A child born hire was assured high-ranking status.

Here’s a fascinating except from my Oahu Revealed guidebook about these stones:

Royal birthing procedures were different from what commoners went through. When the time came, the woman would arrive at what was then a secret spot, and in the presence of 36 male chiefs she would position herself at certain stones and in certain ways to give birth while they watched. (Gee, that must have created quite the awkward moment…) Within minutes of birth the child was taken away, and the mother would not see her child Lei offering at Oahu Birthing stonesagain until it was grown. This was to ensure that the child would not be murdered. Infanticide in high-ranking families was common among rival chiefs.

We stopped to see this site on our last visit to Oahu. It’s a peaceful place that also has a mystical feel to it. We could certainly sense the history of this scared place.

What to know when you go:

  • These stones are located about a 100 yards from the intersection of Highway 80 and Whitmore Avenue. (See this Google Map.) There’s a very small unofficial paved parking area that’s literally off this intersection, directly across the road from Whitmore Avenue. We accidentally passed by the parking area the first time because it doesn’t look like a parking area. It looks more like a farm road. Be careful that you don’t park in the dirt area if it looks muddy. We almost got stuck when we drove off the pavement to turn around.
  • Please respect these stones and the people who visit them as they are sacred to the Hawaiian people. You might see someone chanting or leaving an offering, so be respectful of their place.
  • There are two distinct sections to this monument.
  • The dirt path to the first section of stones is a flat walk of about 100 yards.
  • Allow about 20 minutes for visiting this site.

Have you seen the Kukaniloko birthing stones? What was your impression of this sacred site?


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About Sheila Beal

Sheila Beal is the founder and editor of Go Visit Hawaii. You can connect with Sheila Beal on Twitter, Go Visit Hawaii on Facebook, or Sheila Beal on Google+.

13 comments

  1. I had a neighbor that was permanently disabled when a coconut hit him. Some coconut trees can grow over 80 feet high.

  2. my wife and I came to see the stones as we got out of the car things just did not seem right… it was oddly quite and as we walked up the path it felt like we were being watched.

    we looked at the first set of stones the moved to the grove of trees and the cluster of rocks when something caught me eye… there was a man standing with a black hoodie or black hooded cape not moving facing the field behind a tree, I told my wife that something was wrong and we needed to leave soon… she took a few photos then the man turned to look at us, his eyes were crazy white looking out from under the hood he put his head down and turned back to face the field, then all at once he stepped out from behind the tree with his head down but eyes looking right at me and slowly moved in my direction with his arms held out to his side in a Christ type pose moving very slow… I told my wife we must go now and we turned and walked away. I did not want to seem like we were scared so I had my wife keep walking and I faked taking a photo in front of me with my phone but really was taking a photo over my shoulder to see where he was… he was gone!!!!

    I am not sure what was going on but it was overcast light rain and creepy to say the least… I was not sticking around to find out…

  3. Whoa, Marcos! I think my heart started beating faster reading about your experience. That would be pretty unnerving. How long ago did this happen? If it was recent, I wonder if it would be a good idea to let someone at the Hawaii State Park office know about it.

    I think and I hope what you saw was just highly unusual. When we were there just under 5 months ago, we didn’t see anything like that. There were a few other tourists and some locals just sitting on the ground and chatting near the field by the stones. They weren’t dressed in black.

  4. it was last Friday Feb27 2009

    If I knew how to post a photo here I would post the photo I have its creepy

  5. Wow, Marcos – that was recent! I’d encourage you to contact the Hawaii State Parks Folks and let them know about this unusual and disturbing behavior and the photo you captured. According to their website: http://www.hawaiistateparks.org/contact.cfm Here is their e-mail address: dlnr@hawaii.gov I’m sure this is something they’d want to know about and would appreciate you letting them know.

    Is your photo hosted online? If so, you can include a link to it here.

    Please let me know how it goes.

  6. A while ago (6 months) I had a sudden desire to visit Kukaniloko. I don’t know why but I felt like I had to go. So one day I got in my truck and drove from Nanakuli to Wahiawa. I found the little access road and parked. Upon getting out of my truck I noticed how quiet it was even though I was right by the roadside.
    When you get to the end of the path there are, if I remember correctly, two large stones marking the entrance. One is upright and one is lying on it’s side. I walked down the dirt road and upon reaching these stones I stopped. I looked at the large rocks and wondered if these were always here or if someone put them here to stop cars from driving into the area. Anyway, I started to step past the stones to enter the site and immediately a giant swarm of what I can only describe as gnats descended upon me. (I’ve seen these bugs swarming under tamarind trees and always assumed them to be gnats.) Anyway, I stepped back and was amazed to see a thick cloud of these insects swirling right in front of me next to one of the rocks. The swarm was about 8-10′ high and 6′ wide and not moving just hovering in place. I watched this for about 30 seconds and then, for some reason, I remembered that this is a sacred place and that I should take off my slippers. I took off my slippers and put them to the side in case someone came along and wanted to “borrow” them. I looked up and the cloud of bugs was gone. I almost felt invited like I had been given permission to come in now.
    I walked into the site and noticed all the typical rocks and everything that everyone says is there. I saw the two rows of rocks and I went up to the birthing stone. I walked to the back of the cleared area and walked around the coconut trees. I realized how beautiful this place was hidden in the middle of a field.
    On my way from the back of the site the wind suddenly picked up and started to blow for the first time. I said a prayer to God and thanked him for this experience. Then the wind died down and everything was dead silent again.
    Content that my experience here was over I began to leave when I heard a rustling in the tall grass surrounding the site. I looked at the area where I heard the sound coming from and then I saw a white hawaiian owl launch out from the tall grass which then flew no more than four feet above my head and dive bombed into the grass on the other side. This owl was massive and from the crouching position I had assumed to avoid it I felt my heart pounding. I thought to myself that this place is powerful. Then I heard the same rustling in the grass and the owl shot up a second time and flew in a half circle around the back of the site and right back into the same area it had just come from.
    Friends and family that I have told this to have said that the owl was probably hunting a mouse or rat or that maybe it had a nest it was defending. That is a possibiltiy but I always ask them if they have ever seen an owl out in the middle of the day and not one person has said yes.
    So once again I found myself praying to God thanking Him for allowing me to come here and experience this. I headed toward the entrance and saw a man and his little daughter coming into the site. How strange I must have looked to them, a 6’2″ 250lbs man walking barefoot in this place. I smiled at them and they smiled back. I walked back to my car and was sure that I had just experienced something I would never forget for as long as I lived.

  7. Lucero – thanks for taking the time to share your experience. When I visited I sensed the history of this place, but sounds like you experienced a whole lot more! Mahalo for your comment!

  8. Janis/Kailua/Oahu

    I have visited the birthing stones for the magical experience many times. What saddens me is that there used to be four paintings explaining the significance of this location to ancient Hawaiian history, modern Hawaiian history, geologically, and the relationship of the place, the mountains to the seasons/sun and locations of stars in the night. How sad it is that perhaps vandals destroyed this magic addition which had been dedicated to honor the place and all that has happened here.

    I am a childbirth educator and have visited at least 4 other times (besides the dedication of the paintings many years ago) with friends and family with whom I share an obstetrical history. My daughter and I visited to pray—-and we have witnessed others visiting as tourists out of curiosity and locals also there to perform rituals of healing and help for direction in life.

    I hope a visit with other childbirth professionals in September will find the location spiritually and emotionally welcoming.

    Shame on those who chose to deface this sacred spot and let it fall into an unkept state. We will leave the location better than we found it.

    Aloha pumehana,
    Janis

    • Aloha, my name is Tony I am from the island of Hawaii…….originally I used to live in Ewa Beach on the island of Oahu……Recently my girlfriend and I visited this sacred site in Wahiawa, Kukaniloko…..I must admit it was an emotional experience for the both of us, even though not one word was uttered between the both of us while there we both were overwhelmed with emotion. When I used to live on Oahu, my wife who has passed on about 5 years ago, went to visit the “stones”, for my wife had gone through a few miscarraiges early on in our marraige, during that visit we felt very comfortable among the stones, I must confess I think my wife felt more emotions than I did at that time, well my wife and I were blessed with a son, who is now 27 years old…….

      I have never felt as emotionally overwhelmed as I had during our visit to the “stones” this past year….I firmly believe that the entities that overlook this sacred site will allow it to be a visit that your heart and mind and kino will be welcomed to visit or not welcomed to visit, I firmly believe that the mind has to be clear to visit this site or any sacred site in these islands that make up Hawaii, respect is all that is required to visit any sacred site for there had been a purpose, and that place was revered and blessed to be such a site…..Mahalo Ke Akua, for those who are capable to understand will understand and will also share the experience of such sacred places to all who will also revere them as such……

      Aloha Pumehana
      Tony Gionson

  9. Aloha for sharing is appreciate and my respects to everything sacred the Hawaiian culture is in some way similar to de Aztec and that make me sooooo interested on it my ancestry is Aztec

  10. I am visiting from PA and my friend (who lives here) and I visited the site yesterday. As soon as we started up the path from the parking area, we both started feeling pressure in our solar plexus area. It intensified as we walked around the site. I started feeling extremely nauseous and was sure I would need to throw up – this was at the far side closest to Kole Kole Pass. My friend also felt nauseous, though hers dissolved much quicker than my own did. We both felt strongly that we had felt an intensely spiritual experience.

    Does anyone know more information about the stones in the center – were they originally there or when were they placed there? And by whom?

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