Honor Kapu Symbols When You Visit Hawaii

When you visit Hawaii, you might come across two sticks crossed in the shape of an X with two ball shapes on top. That’s a symbol of kapu and when you see it, you should take notice. That kapu symbol will most likely be warning you one that entry or further approach is forbidden because the point is sacred and protected. In many cases, it could basically mean no trespassing.

I’ll share a couple of photos that illustrate kapu.This first photo is from the Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site on the Kohala Coast of Hawaii’s Big Island. There’s a path behind the wooden gate that leads up to the heiau. (A heiau is an ancient Hawaiian worship temple.) This heiau is still considered to be a sacred to Hawaiians. So, the general public is not allowed entry through the gate.

Kapu (forbidden entry here)

This next photo is a historic marker indicating the birthplace of one of the Kingdom of Hawaii’s kings, Kauikeaouli Kamehameha III in Keauhou on Hawaii’s Big Island.  Notice that there’s a kapu symbol on the bottom left of the sign. Below the kapu symbol, the sign says, “Please do not enter this enclosure.”


So, please be aware of kapu symbols and kindly honor the warning not to go any further from that point.

Have you seen kapu symbols in Hawaii? Where did you see them?

1 comment
  1. great tip Sheila. I think this and one on respecting the ocean and wildlife in Hawaii should be required viewing on every plane ride into Hawaii!

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