Hawaiian Folklore: Our Top 3 Lovers and Romantic Legends

Hawaiian Folklore Ohia Lehua
Hawaii Aloha Travel > Blog > Hawaiian Folklore: Our Top 3 Lovers and Romantic Legends

Hawaii is such a romantic destination, and Hawaiian folklore is teeming with love stories. Unfortunately, many of these stories don’t have the happiest endings. 

Still, they’re great to know and inspiring to hear. Plus they hold a lot of importance in Hawaiian culture. 

So before you head to Hawaii for a honeymoon, anniversary trip, or any romantic getaway, discover these stories of the lovers who lived here long ago. 

The Importance of Hawaiian Folklore. 

Around Hawaii, nearly all our natural wonders and beautiful flowers have a legend attached to them, and many of these legends are about lovers who are embroiled in scandal.

We have a few favorites among these stories, and we’re excited to share them with you today!

Our 3 Favorite Romantic Hawaiian Legends

1. The Legend Behind The Red Lehua Blossom

ʻōhiʻa lehua

The Ohia tree is often the first plant to grow on new lava flows, but don’t even think of picking its beautiful, red Lehua blossom as a souvenir. 

Both the tree and flower are rooted in Hawaiian Folklore. 

Ohia and Lehua were young lovers. Many stories describe Ohia as a handsome trickster, while Lehua was beautiful and gentle. 

Things got messy for the pair when Pele entered the picture. Pele is the volcano goddess, known for her fiery temper. When Pele came across Ohia, she wanted him for herself. He refused her, so she turned him into a twisted, ugly tree. 

Pele ignored Lehua’s pleas to change him back, but the other gods felt sorry for the young girl. They couldn’t reverse Pele’s magic, but they did turn Lehua into a beautiful red flower and placed her on the tree so that the two young lovers would never again be apart. 

Hawaiian folklore says that as long as the flowers remain on the tree, the weather is sunny and fair. But when a flower is plucked from the tree, rain falls like tears since Lehua still cannot bear to be apart from her beloved husband Ohia.

2. Why You Should Put Two Naupaka Flowers Together 

a naupaka flower
The naupaka flower looks like a flower that’s been torn in half. It’s uniquely tied to an ancient Hawaiian legend.

When my family and I lived in Waikoloa on the Big Island, naupaka was everywhere. As I strolled my baby daughter, I would often tell her about the legend behind this unusually-shaped flower (the flowers appear to have been torn in half). 

According to Hawaiian Folklore, Naupaka was a beautiful princess who fell in love with a commoner named Kaui. The star-crossed lovers could never marry, so Naupaka vowed to stay in the mountains while Kaui remained along the ocean. 

Before parting for the very last time, however, Naupaka took the flower from her hair and tore it in half, giving it to Kaui. Even the nearby plants were saddened by the scene. And the very next day, they began to bloom only half flowers in honor of the separated lovers.

3. The Hawaiian Folklore of Sweetheart Rock

sweetheard rock on lanai
Lanai’s Puu Pehe, or Sweetheart Rock, is legendary for its beauty and mythology.

Like my experience with the naupaka flower, anytime I gaze upon Sweetheart Rock on Lanai, I can’t help but let my mind wander to the romantic legend behind the natural wonder. 

The logical part of me understands that ancient people would often make up stories about unexplained fascinations of nature. But, the romantic side of me wants to believe in the legend. 

You can make up your own mind, but here’s the legend behind Sweetheart Rock: 

Pehe, a maiden from Lanai, fell in love with Makakehau, the warrior from Lanai. In fact, Makakehau translates as “misty eyes,” expressing just how smitten he was with Pehe. 

Anyway, Makakehau–though romantic and dashing–was also a tad bit jealous. So much so that he imprisoned Pehe in a cave right on the peninsula shore between Manele Bay and Hulopoe. 

Then one day, a fierce storm rose while he was away, drowning Pehe before he could return and rescue her. Stricken with grief, Makakehau is said to have carried Pehe’s body to the top of the sea stack that towers over the peninsula, entombed her within it, and then leaped to his death.

Discovering Hawaiian Folklore

Our all inclusive Hawaii travel packages allow you to see more of the islands in a way that saves you money and energy. These packages include activities that will put you steps away from some of these Hawaiian flowers that are shrouded in folklore.  

So during your next guided Hawaii tour, make sure you ask your guide about the Hawaiian folklore BEHIND the natural wonders. You never know what romantic legends in Hawaii lurk underneath our beautiful scenery!