Urban Legends Hawaii: Spooky Stories Not to Ignore

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Hawaii Aloha Travel > Blog > Urban Legends Hawaii: Spooky Stories Not to Ignore

I love mythology, legends, and spooky stories that leave me thinking about them for days. And the Urban Legends Hawaii offers are no exceptions. 

As you might know, there are many Hawaiian legends about the different foods and goddesses here in Hawaii that date back many, many years. Some of the warnings they give have become common practice here in Hawaii.

I’m going to share four of these legends with you today. I chose these legends because they offer words of wisdom and things not to do in order to avoid back luck, a grim death, or the wrath of Pele. Remember to take heed of this advice whenever you come to Hawaii!

Note: Many of these stories are deeply rooted in traditional Hawaiian lore, and are still shared as an intrinsic part of the culture. Still, many people share these stories today as Urban Legends in Hawaii, so we’ll explore these sides of the stories today!

Leave The Night Marchers Alone

Night Marchers are ghosts. They move steadily, marching in a procession to the beat of pounding drums. They move with purpose and have a goal in mind – but no one is quite sure what that goal is. 

There are lots of different stories about the night marchers. Some say they are looking to avenge their death, looking to enter the next world, or going into battle.

The Night Marchers of Hawaii are said to come out at night in certain spots, including the Pali Lookout, Kualoa Ranch, Ka’a’awa Valley and Kalihi Valley on Oahu. On the Big Island, you might see them in Hilo or Waipio.

Some people say that the Night Marchers float in the air. Others have seen their footprints on the ground after passing. Many people claim to have heard their pounding drums.

What to Do When You See a Night Marcher: Advice from Urban Legends & Lore in Hawaii

But legend has it that the procession of the Night Marchers must not be interrupted. They are set on reaching their destination. If you look the Night Marchers in the eye, you could meet a grim fate. Or, it might be a loved one that meets the grim fate, which, to me, is even worse.

So if you see a Night Watcher, the advice is that you should lie on the ground and avoid looking at them. If you leave them alone, they will leave you alone. They have somewhere they have to go. Just don’t get in their way.

Natural phenomena tend to accompany the night marchers, including heavy wind, thunder and lightning, heavy rain, high surf, and fog.

So, if you hear the beat of a drum at night off in the distance, don’t look for them. Let them be!

Don’t Bring Pork on the Pali Highway

Pali Highway Oahu

Pele is the goddess of fire. She is also known for having a fiery personality and a vengeful wrath. There are many stories about Pele’s quarrels and battles, and after hearing about what she does to people who wrong her, I do not want to cross her. There is something about the goddess of fire that is so interesting to me, so I take great stock in the stories (and Hawaii urban legends) about her.

One legend says you should not take pork across the Pali Highway. The Pali Highway runs across the southeastern side of Oahu, connecting Honolulu with the windward side of the island.

The reason why you can’t take pork over the Pali highway is that Pele had a bad breakup with the demigod Kamapua’a, who is half-man-half-pig. They can never see each other.

So, if you bring pork over the highway, you are trying to bring Kamapua’a from one side of the island to the other. Pele will stop you because she does not want to see him. Your car might break down, or something else might prevent you from getting to your destination.

Believe it or not, but I have heard firsthand accounts of people who tried to bring pork over the Pali, and their car mysteriously broke down. That is too weird to be a coincidence. Personally, I have enough car trouble; I don’t need to invite any more.

Urban Legends for Hawaii Visitors: Don’t Take the Lava Rock

lava rock

Speaking of Pele, there is one Hawaiian legend that concerns her that I think every visitor to Hawaii should know.

Pele lives in Halemaumau Crater inside of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. You can sometimes see the lava glow coming out of the crater. It’s an astonishing sight to see. The lava that spews from the volcano is said to come from Pele. 

If you visit the Jaggar Museum, you will see all different kinds of lava rocks, including what they call Pele’s Hair and Pele’s Tears – fine lava rock that resembles both hair and tears. You can even find some of these rocks throughout the park.

The story goes that no matter how tempted you are, no matter how pretty it is, do not take lava rock home. This applies whether you find it in the National Park or at the beach.

The Curse of Pele

If you do, Pele will curse you with bad luck. Pele will show you mercy, though, if you return the lava rock. Your bad luck will stop if you bring the lava rock back or mail it back to the park you took it from.

While some people believe that this particular legend was made up by the park rangers who do not want people to take the lava rock (it’s illegal!), I wouldn’t chance it. Not only could you face a fine, but Pele’s fiery wrath is something I don’t want to mess with.

Each year, visitors who brought lava rock home with them take the time to mail the lava rock back to the park they took it from, convinced that their bad luck streak is a direct result of their thievery.

The same goes for sand, shells, and any other type of rock. Don’t mess with Pele.

In fact, Pele is behind many the Urban Legends in Hawaii.

Don’t Pick the Lehua

If you don’t want it to rain during your Hawaiian vacation, do not pick the flowers from the Ohia tree.

What is so remarkable about the Ohia tree is that it is usually the first plant to grow after the lava comes through an area. The tree with the red flower sticking up out of the lava rock is a beautiful sight to see and often fills me with awe and hope. I love that something can grow out of the destruction of lava.

However, do not pick the Lehua blossom on the Ohia tree.

The Hawaiian legend of the Ohia Lehua Tree

The Story of Lehua & Ohia

The story goes that Ohia and Lehua were madly in love. One day, Pele met Ohia and decided she wanted him. Because he was in love with Lehua, he told her he was not interested in her.

By now, you might have an idea that Pele did not like this. She does not like being refused, and she is extremely jealous. So, she turned him into the Ohia tree.

Lehua begged Pele to change him back into Ohia, but she obviously refused. The other gods saw how unhappy Lehua was. They couldn’t cross Pele by turning Ohi back, so instead, they decided to turn her into the red Lehua flower, placing her on the Ohia tree. That way, the Ohia and Lehua will never be apart.

When you pluck the Lehua flower, it will rain. The rain is said to be the tears since Ohia and Lehua cannot stand to be apart. Now that’s love.

Urban Legends Hawaii: Tried & True Advice

These may sound like silly stories to you, but after living in Hawaii for a while and hearing too many people swear by the advice to be true, and I’m not taking any chances.

Sure, you could look the Night Watchers in the eye, bring pork on the Pali, take lava rock, and plush the Lehua flowers at your own risk — but don’t say I didn’t warn you.