Mokuaikaua Church

Visit the oldest Christian church in Hawai'i to admire an example of architecture unlike any other on the islands and gain insight into the local religious history.

Moku'aikaua Church makes a fascinating addition to any Big Island itinerary, no matter your religion. This lovely stone building is interesting for its design but even more so for its history. It was the first Christian church ever to be built on any of the Hawaiian Islands. Admire its charming stone exterior then come inside for a moment of peaceful reflection, surrounded by the unique features of its interior.

A small group of missionaries first arrived in Hawaii in 1820, during the reign of King Kamehameha II. They soon set about building a Christian place of worship and makeshift churches were built on this Kailua-Kona site starting in 1820. In 1835, work began on the building that is now Moku'aikaua Church.

Little has changed in the appearance of the church. Visit today and you’ll still see the same distinctive stone building where the early Hawaiian Christians prayed all those years ago. See if you can pick out some of the more unexpected materials used in its construction. Parts of the building were made from native lava rock, with mortar containing coral and sand. Elsewhere, ballast from sailing ships is incorporated. This mix of unusual materials seems even stranger when combined with the classic pioneer style of the architecture.

Inside the church, make sure to take a close look at the beautiful wood beams and posts, made from native ohia wood brought down from the mountains. Take a seat on the rare and special pews, made from another Haiwaiian wood, koa, which is hard to find and expensive to buy due to a decline in koa tree populations. Don’t miss the delightful model of the Thaddeus at the back of the church. This is the vessel the first missionaries arrived on, captured here in perfect detail.

Moku'aikaua Church is not only an important historic site, but also a buzzing community hub even today. Come on a Sunday morning to attend one of the services or check the events calendar ahead of time to see what is on during the week. The doors of the church are open every day from early morning until late afternoon.