Thinking of visiting Hawaii, but heard some pretty spooky stories from your friends?
Maybe they heard the faint and unnerving sound of an army parading past or maybe their rental car broke down erratically on the Pali highway.
Or, perhaps the peculiar experiences started once they got home and showed you the lava rock souvenir they brought home.
Hawaii may be a stunning place with rich scenery, a bright, blue ocean, flawless weather and wonderful people. But don’t be fooled, there’s definitely a darker side to this paradise.
Read up now on the ancient legends of the islands, you don’t want to be grasping that pretty red flower by mistake…
Lava Rock Revenge
One of the most famous myths in Hawaii is Pele’s Curse (you’ll hear about her a lot), which by all accounts and purposes is not such an ancient myth at all.
Pele’s curse says that any tourist who takes rock or sand away from the islands will suffer terrible luck until the native Hawaiian elements are returned to their homeland.
To sceptic’s, this well known yet semi-modern legend is attributed to a dissatisfied park ranger who was getting annoyed with tourists stealing the volcanic rock. Many think he made up the curse or that a bunch of tour guides came together to try and stop the thousands of visitors carting off the precious rocks and bringing the colorful silky sand back onto the buses. (They say sand gets EVERYWHERE for a reason you know.)
Regardless, every year hundreds of packages arrive back into Hawaii full of rocks, sand and other environmental materials in the hope that it will clear their consciences and change their utterly shitty luck.
Taking Pork Across the Pali is a No Go
Pele’s influence can be found throughout Hawaii legend, but possibly the strangest manifestation of her rage is the myth that you can’t take pork over the Pali Highway, which unites Honolulu with the windward side of Oahu.
According to legend, taking pork over the Pali is linked to the stormy relationship between Pele, the goddess of fire, and Kamapua‘a, a human demi-god who was half-man, half-pig.
The two agreed not to visit each other, but taking pork over the Pali means taking a form of Kamapua‘a from his territory (the wet side of the island) into Pele’s domain (the dry side of the island).
Taking pork over the Pali Highway can be dangerous, as most island visitors learn to their peril. Despite repeated warnings that the car will break down or someone will get hurt in an accident; brave (and somewhat foolish) souls remain to challenge the goddess, Pele, Hawaii’s volcano deity.
Run at the Sound of Drums
Be cautious if you plan on doing any night hikes or midnight beach strolls while in Hawaii.
The Night Marchers are ghosts of Hawaiian warriors that are said to wander the islands at night visiting old battlefields and sacred sites.
If you hear singing, drums or marching or if you see torches, your best bet is to run indoors or to lie silently on your belly. Oh, and whatever you do, don’t make eye contact with the night marchers at ALL costs or you’ll die and be forced to march with them for all of eternity.
Because no solid structure built on the Night Marchers’ path can deter them, many natives tell stories of the Night Marchers going through their homes and leaving fear behind.
But, don’t worry, if you do happen to have an ancestor marching, no one in the procession can harm you. Phew!
Pele + Gin = a rocking good time
If you want to safeguard yourself and your family from lava flow, you have to reimburse Pele, the volcano goddess.
According to local legends, if you see a striking woman with long, flowing hair or an older woman with long, white hair, you must greet her with aloha and offer her aid or respite. To really get on her good side, however, you have to visit her at Halemaʻumaʻu and give donations of food, flowers and gin. Yes, gin. It’s her favorite, apparently.
The Red Lehua Blossom of Doom
The Ohia tree is frequently the initial plant to grow on new lava flows, but picking its gorgeous, red Lehua blossom as a keepsake would be a really bad idea.
Both the tree and flower are rooted in Hawaiian legend. It’s said that Ohia and Lehua were young lovers: he was a handsome charlatan and she was the most attractive and gentle girl on the island.
But, one day Pele (yes her again) came across Ohia and wanted him for herself. When he refused her, she turned him into a warped tree. Disregarding Lehua’s pleas to change him back, the gods decided to intervene. Unable to reverse Pele’s curse, they decided to turn Lehua into a striking red flower and positioned her on the tree so that the two young lovers would never again be separated.
The legend says that as long as the blossoms remain on the tree, the weather will stay fine and fair. But, when a flower is taken from the tree, rain will fall like hot tears since Lehua still cannot bear to be parted from her much-loved Ohia.
The Menehune; Nothing Like Hobbits
The Menehune are said to be tiny people who live in the woodlands and hidden gorges of Hawaii and hide in plain sight from us normal folk.
Legend has it that the Menehune colonized Hawaii before the Polynesian settlers. Known for being exceptional craftsmen and engineering geniuses, it’s said that they even had a hand in building the Menehune Fish Pond and the Menehune Ditch on Kauai.
If you get a chance, check out the weird placed rocks which have been carefully positioned into a square and pressed to create a watertight seal. Oh, and they are said to have built it all in one night!
The House on 8th Avenue
Not one to visit on a dark and stormy night or alone for that matter (come on, we all know the loner searching by themselves is always the first to go) the Kaimuki House could have been plucked right out of The Conjuring.
Located on 8th Avenue and Harding in Honolulu, this house is steeped in local hearsay and it’s gruesome.
The kasha (a kind of demon/cannibalistic entity) is believed to have first established its residency after a father murdered his family. His wife and son were found buried on the property, but his daughters were nowhere to be found.
In 1942, it’s reported that a woman called the police because “something” was attacking her kids. According to reports, the police watched in complete shock (and horror I’d assume) as the invisible force attacked the children.
But wait there’s more….
There’re reports of three women being attacked in their car, which sat on the drive. One was almost strangled to death by an unseen force while the others (including a local cop) tried to help but were held in place by a “large, rough-skinned hand” which resulted in the young woman’s death.
The stories continue but you get the picture. Evil house. Ghosts. Spooky shit.
It’s no surprise that with a past so steeped in religion, culture and even civil war, that Hawaii is full of these amazing yet outlandish urban legends. Take them with a pinch of salt (and turn round three times) if you want or make it your mission to visit them all.
But, one thing is for sure, Hawaii is more than just sunshine and cheerfulness.