Everyone’s in the right mood for a scary story in October. Hawaii has some thoroughly spooky legends – here’s a look at a few of the paranormal stories coming from the islands:
1. Pele, the Fire Goddess
Since Hawaii was literally made by volcanoes, it’s no wonder they have a plethora of legends surrounding fire and lava. Pele is the goddess of fire, (or depending on who you ask, lava and/or volcanoes) and there are a few stories about her that you may want to keep in mind when you’re visiting the islands.
First, there’s the pork issue: specifically, taking pork over Pali road. Here’s the story:
Pele’s lover Kamapua’a had a difficult childhood. His father suspected (correctly) that Kamapua’a was not actually his child and refused to claim him. Even though Kamapua’a grew up to be strong, smart, good-looking and able to shape shift, his father’s disdain gave him confidence issues. So, as all jilted sons do, he rebelled and turned himself into a pig.
It was in this form that he met Pele and fell in love. She didn’t return the feelings at first but eventually decided to marry him. When Kamapua’a got the love and acceptance he had always craved from Pele, he turned back into his true form. Unfortunately, this made Pele feel she had been tricked, and she fled to her sanctuary in the lava. She demanded that Kamapua’a stay far, far away from her, and their romance was over.
The end result is that now, according to legend, if you drive the Pali highway with pork, your car will break down until you discard it. If your Oahu vacation rental is along this highway, you may want to reconsider whether ham sandwiches are the best food to pack for your picnic.
Second, Pele is rumored to guard the volcanic rocks on Oahu, and curse anyone who steals them. If you take a rock from the area, you might find yourself very unlucky until you send it back.
2. The Noppera-Bo​
This is a truly creepy – and fairly modern – legend focused on the Kahala region of Oahu known as the faceless woman. There are stories of shape-shifting monsters in many different cultures, and they all have some basic traits in common: The monster, which looks like some kind of forest animal, takes a human form to lure people in or get close to them without detection. What they do once they’ve gotten past peoples’ radar is different from culture to culture, but generally it’s pretty unpleasant.
In the 1950s, a woman claimed to have seen one of these shape-shifting monsters, called a Noppera-Bo, in the restroom at a drive-in theater. She glanced at the girl next to her, who was combing her hair in the mirror, and realized that something was wrong: The girl didn’t have a face. The woman had a nervous breakdown and was actually hospitalized after seeing the faceless person.
Although that was the only hospitalization, there have been a number of sightings since then. They’re always in the Kahala region, and usually near the Kahala cemetery, which has led some people to assume it’s a lost spirit. Oddly enough, the Noppera-Bo is usually spotted in public restrooms – if you’re the sort to seek out an encounter, that’s probably the place to start.
3. The Night Marchers
No list of Hawaiian ghost stories would be complete without mentioning the Night Marchers. Legend has it that these are ancient Hawaiian warriors who have been cursed to march for eternity. They come out at night, preceded by the sounds of beating drums and conch shells being blown. It’s considered disrespectful to look at the Night Marchers, so if you hear them coming, you’re supposed to lay face down on the ground until they’ve passed.
There have been isolated claims of Night Marchers all over Hawaii, but Nu’uanu Pali Lookout, Ka’a’awa Valley and the Kalihi Valley are rumored to be sites where Night Marchers regularly appear. On your Hawaiian vacation, it’s probably best to visit these sites during the day, and appreciate the stories of what might go on at night.