5 Creepy Ghost Stories From Hawaii

Updated on August 15, 2019
Ronald Piper profile image

I lived in Hawaii for over a decade and experienced firsthand what the different cultures brought to the islands.

Napali Coast on Kauai
Napali Coast on Kauai

Everyone knows Hawaii is a tropical paradise perfect for vacations. As a visitor, however, you may not hear about the ghostly tales of the Hawaiian Islands—apart from stories you've heard about people having bad experiences after they took a lava rock home. Once you live on the islands though, the stories of the paranormal leave an imprint on you and you begin to know them by heart.

The ghost stories have their roots in Hawaiian folklore and urban legend and have been passed down from generation to generation. Most people in Hawaii either know someone who has had a paranormal experience, or they have had a supernatural experience themselves. Either way, the stories are creepy and not to be ignored.

Here are five ghostly tales that I remember from my life in Hawaii.

Beautiful Hawaiian waterfall and landscape!
Beautiful Hawaiian waterfall and landscape!

1. Taking Pork Through the Pali Highway Tunnels

Perhaps the most well-known tale on the island of Oahu says that if you take pork through the Pali Highway tunnels, bad things will happen. It doesn't matter what form the pork is in.

The Pali Highway connects Honolulu with the windward side of the island. It is a quicker route than driving toward Diamond Head to go around the mountain. It is a popular route taken by locals, and it is easy to forget what items you have in your car.

Those who have forgotten they have pork in their car (or those who intentionally dare to bring pork) find themselves stranded on the side of the road after they have made it through the Pali Highway tunnels. When they get out of the vehicle to investigate, they find nothing mechanically wrong with their car.

One thing is clear; the car will refuse to start. When they take inventory of what they brought through the tunnels, they find pork in their car and are immediately horrified.

They toss the pork out of the car. Once the pork is no longer in the vehicle, it will start, and they are permitted to be on their way.

Hawaiian legend says the Goddess Pele and her lover, Kamapua’a had a bitter split. Kamapua’a, the half-man, and half pig demigod agreed with Pele to split the island in half. The Pali Highway tunnels mark the division of each territory and to bring pork over the pass is an insult to Kamapua'a.

Tropical Hawaiian Mountain Range!
Tropical Hawaiian Mountain Range!

2. Ghostly Hitchhiker

Over the years, there have been many supernatural sightings of the Goddess Pele on the Big Island of Hawaii. Mount Kilauea is said to be her final resting place, so it makes sense that locals and visitors alike report seeing her.

Legend has it that Pele can take many forms. Mostly, she takes the shape of either a beautiful young woman or an old and unattractive lady. In either case, she will be wearing either a long white dress, dirty and dark clothing, or a red muumuu.

The first ghostly story involves driving on Daniel Inouye Highway, which used to be called Saddle Road, at night. Many people have reported driving on the road and having a very unexpected passenger.

The road is very dark, and the lights that illuminate the way are the car headlights and the moonlight. The person will be driving and have an eerie sensation come over them. When they look in the rearview mirror, they see an older woman dressed in white seated in the backseat.

The frightened and alarmed driver will focus on the road for a moment before looking toward the backseat again. When they do, they find that their passenger has disappeared.

In the other version of this tale, the driver will see an elderly Hawaiian woman walking along the side of the road. The driver has only moments to make up their mind to offer the older woman a ride or to pass her by.

The people of Hawaii know that you should stop and give her a ride and take her wherever she wants to go. The reason you offer her a ride in the care is simple. The older woman could be Pele, and to drive by and do nothing will bring bad luck upon you. She is testing to see if you have the Aloha spirit or not. If it is not Pele, then you did a lovely thing for an older woman.

Kilauea Crater at Night!
Kilauea Crater at Night!

3. The Legend of the Menehune

The Menehune are said to be the original displaced settlers of Hawaii. They range in height from 6 inches to 2 feet and are talented builders and a little bit mischievous. They are Hawaii’s version of the leprechaun.

The Menehune inhabit the deep forests and do their work in the light of the moon. If you are unlucky enough to see them work, the Menehune could turn you to stone.

Legend has it that when the Menehune were building the Alekoko fishpond for the royal siblings; the family promised no one would watch them work. The royal snuck up and watched the Menehune work during the night. They fell asleep, and when discovered by the Menehune, they turned the royal siblings into stone pillars.

Overall, the Menehune are happy and enjoy singing, dancing, and archery. They use magic arrows to pierce the heart of angry people to ignite feelings of love and not hate.

The playful and mischievous side of the Menehune is present when items go missing. The locals often blame the Menehune. So, if you go to a party and find your shoes or flip-flops missing, the Menehune took them and hid them from you.

Lush Hawaiian Mountain!
Lush Hawaiian Mountain!

4. Hawaii’s Night Marchers

On any given night, you may hear the beating of war drums and a call on a conch shell. On the distant mountainside, you could see what looks like torches marching down toward the valley. These are Hawaii’s Night Marchers.

The legend of the Night Marchers dates back to when a caste system governed Hawaii. The warriors blew conch shells and beat the drums when their chief would pass through the village. Commoners were not allowed to make eye contact with the chief, to do so, meant certain death.

These warriors still uphold their duties even in death. So, if you hear the drums and the conch shell warning, you should leave the area. If it is too late to move, legend says that you are to strip naked and lie on the ground to save your life.

Exciting Fire Dancers!
Exciting Fire Dancers!

5. The Half-Faced Girl

The story of the half-faced girl is no ordinary ghost story. If you travel down the Old Pali Road in Kailua, Hawaii, you may come across a young, dark-haired teenage girl. All appears normal as she skips rope down the street.

When you look closely, you see it is a floating apparition of a girl. If this is not disturbing enough, when the girl turns to look at you, the lower half of her face is missing. Her nose, mouth, and cheeks are non-existent. All that remains of her face is her bulging eyes. Her eyes might appear that way because she was raped and then strangled by the very toy she loved. The lower half of her face gone because of predation.

Due to the horrible way she died, she is doomed to roam on the Old Pali Road for eternity.

Old Pali Road, Kailua, Hawaii
Old Pali Road, Kailua, Hawaii

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    © 2019 Ronald Piper

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