The Hawaiian Islands are one of the most isolated population centers on planet Earth, and also one of the most culturally diverse. That makes Hawai’i an interesting and unique place for food, cultures, traditions – and supernatural beings. Mix that in with some real-life events (many of them tragedies, unfortunately) and you have some of the creepiest urban legends ever. Growing up, these were some of the stories we passed around in the dark at beach bonfires and warm sleepovers.
1. Old Pali Road and the Half-Faced Girl
Old Pali Road in the Nu’uanu Valley is without a doubt one of the most active sites for weird paranormal activity. Before the Pali Highway was created, it was the site of one of the most important battles in Hawaiian history. In the 1795 Battle for the Unification of the Islands, King Kamehameha I ordered thousands of enemy forces to jump to their deaths off the Pali Cliff (Pali Lookout). Some of their ghosts are said to still be seen falling to this day. Of the many stories surrounding the area, another one is about the ghostly apparition of a long, black-haired, half-faced young girl skipping rope. She is said to be the victim of a violent murder and her body was left in the bushes with the jump rope that was used against her. The only explanation for why her nose, cheeks and mouth were missing: wild animals must’ve eaten parts of her before she was found.
2. Never Bring Pork on The Pali
Local or new to Hawai’i, you quickly hear you shouldn’t bring pork onto or across the Pali Highway. Why? According to Hawaiian legend, Pele, goddess of fire and volcanoes, once had a lover named Kamapua’a. He was a half-man, half-pig demigod. After a terrible and bitter falling out they agreed to split the island in half, the tunnel marking the division of respective turfs. Since pork is symbolic of Kamapua’a, bringing pork into Pele’s side has caused cars to mysteriously stop and break down. Most reports of car trouble in the area somehow involve this common factor, but people say as soon as they threw out the pork – their cars started back up immediately. Stupid teenagers always try to test this urban legend, but don’t try this at home kids! Leave that kalua plate where you found it.
3. Morgan’s Corner
Morgan’s Corner on Nu’uanu Pali Drive is one of the most well-known urban legends on Oahu (especially among teenagers). One night, a young couple decides to park their car under a tree on Morgan’s Corner only to find that their car wouldn’t start once they decided to leave. The boy told the girl to wait in the car while he goes out to get help from other cars in the area. Throughout the night she heard scratching on the roof of the car, most likely coming from tree branches overhead, but despite the noise, she soon falls asleep. She is awakened the next morning by a policeman ordering her to get out of the car and he tells her to walk out without turning around. Curiosity getting the best of her, she turns around and sees… her dead boyfriend hanging upside down from the tree. His fingers were scraping across the car’s roof.
4. Mujina, the Faceless Woman
This is the story that always freaks me out when I hear it. Mujina, in Japanese folkore, is a creature with no face that can shift into human form. Like many other cultures, when Japanese immigrants came to Hawai’i they brought this folklore with them, where it took on a new spin. The first real report of Mujina was in 1959 when a woman reported seeing her in the drive-in theater in Kahala. When she went to use the bathroom, she noticed one other woman with her, combing her red hair in the mirror. When she got close enough to her, she was shocked to find she had no facial features and was later hospitalized for having a nervous breakdown. This story got so much attention and was originally thought to be a rumor until local radio host Glen Grant discussed its validity on air in 1981. The woman recounted her story and since then, stories of Mujina have emerged all across the islands, even from Grant Glen himself. Also thanks to this story, I can never use theater bathrooms alone again.
5. Drowning Ghost of Waimea Valley Falls
Hiking waterfalls and cliff diving are common attractions for tourists and locals for obvious reasons: 1) it’s beautiful and scenic and 2) it’s fun. However at Waimea Valley Falls, that’s not the case. There’s said to be a dark entity lurking in the depths of the lagoon. This is probably why tourists are no longer allowed to swim here, only trained divers – and even they aren’t there for very long. Many locals believe that the waterfall and lagoon are haunted by a drowning spirit that seeks human sacrifices. This spirit drowns a human and keeps its body for as long as it wants before releasing it to the surface. In one account in 1952, a sailor and his friends went swimming in the lagoon when he appeared to be struggling underwater, unable to get to the surface. His friends couldn’t get to him in time before he disappeared below. While waiting for police to find the body, the friends decided to camp in the valley and all throughout the night, they heard sounds of footsteps running back and forth from the lagoon to the woods and back, over and over again. The body was finally found the next day.
6. Night Marchers
In elementary school, the scariest superstition we knew as kids was that the Night Marchers would come down from the mountains and drag us in our sleep if we slept with our feet towards the door. According to Hawaiian legend, Night Marchers are ancient Hawaiian warriors who roamed the islands at night. They are heavily armed and ready for battle as they blaze through the night and are definitely not the type of spirits you want to upset or encounter. Stories say you can hear their drums pounding and chanting rising through the air as they march, which is a sign to get out of the area. If you’re near them you must hide or lie flat on the ground in respect, and last but not least – if you ever encounter them, don’t ever dare look them in the eye.
Whether you’re a true believer of the occult or an amused skeptic, I think we can all agree these stories are sure to give us the creeps.