The Healer Stones of Kapaemahu – Honolulu, Hawaii - Atlas Obscura

The Healer Stones of Kapaemahu

On Waikīkī Beach, a monument to four extraordinary individuals of dual male and female spirits who brought the healing arts from Tahiti to Hawai'i. 

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In the heart of Waikīkī, between the statue of Duke Paoa Kahanamoku, the father of modern surfing, and a police station, sit four large stones that represent a Hawaiian tradition of healing and inclusion that is all but unknown to the millions of locals and visitors passing by. 

According to legend, these boulders honor four mahu—people of dual male and female mind, heart, and spirit—who long ago brought the healing arts from Tahiti to Hawaiʻi and used their spiritual power to treat disease. The stones were much beloved by Princess Kaʻiulani, the last heir to the throne of the Hawaiian Kingdom, who placed seaweed lei and prayed to them before swimming. But an influx of foreign influences and prejudices throughout the 20th century resulted in a vastly changing island landscape, and the stones were nearly forgotten. At one point they were even buried under a bowling alley.

The stones were recovered in 1963, and today they sit on a raised platform protected by a fence. Although the gender fluidity of the healers was for many years suppressed, a new interpretive plaque describes their duality and directs visitors to the complete story and animated film at Kapaemahu.info.  The best way to honor this unique monument is to share the story of the stones and what they represent.

In partnership with KAYAK

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