5 Haunted Trails on Oahu
Photo: Courtesy Mysteries of Hawaii
Hawaii is rich with ancient culture, making it a purported hotbed for the spirits of ancestors, warriors, gods and goddesses of the past. You don’t have to go sneaking around cemeteries or haunted houses to find them, either. There are many trails in nature more prone to hauntings than others—you just have to know where to look (or, in the case of night marchers, NEVER look). We consulted Lopaka Kapanui, storyteller and founder of the Mysteries of Hawaii ghost tours, to tell us about some lesser-known hiking paths and their haunted histories.
Kamehameha III’s summer mansion, built in 1845, is a historic site in upper Nuuanu. While the path is mostly hidden from passersby and you have to trek through a bamboo forest to reach the ruins, those who have made the journey at night report that a presence accompanied them on their walk back to the main road, even calling their name. Pictures, videos and recordings are said to have revealed spirits walking up to the site, which is supposedly a meeting point of the night marchers, who you can clearly hear speaking Hawaiian to each other. Always remember that if you venture into the path of the night marchers, legend says you should be prepared to strip naked and lie facedown until they pass, lest you be punished for being disrespectful.
Kapanui suggests another place to witness night marchers (safely, from afar): at Yokohama on the west side of the island. From the Keawaula trail, on a dark enough night, you may be able to see torchlights from the marchers’ procession coming over the ridge from Mokuleia. Their path continues past the satellite tracking stations to the bathrooms near the beach as they head towards the ocean—just don’t look directly at them.
Aiea Loop Trail
Though this is a popular trail, Kapanui says it’s also known for menehune, and not in the middle of the night, either—recent sightings of little men around the beginning of the trail have been said to occur mainly at 11 a.m. According to Kapanui’s sources, they hang around the trail because a family feeds them, but some visitors to the trail have been tampering with the offerings.
Old Pali Road
Everyone is familiar with the legend warning not to bring pork over the Old Pali Road, or your car will stop. This is said to be Pele refusing to let Kamapuaa, a hog god, pass into her territory in any form. The Old Pali Road also has an unmarked trail to the left of it when you’re heading from the windward side towards the lookout, but Kapanui believes you won’t get away with carrying pork there, either. If you forgot about that manapua you brought as a snack in your backpack, you just might find you’re not alone on your way back.
The abandoned Kionaole Road is said to be haunted in three ways: by murder victims whose bodies were dumped there, by restless spirits residing in a tree (Kapanui says not to get too close to it or they may transfer to you), and by warriors who survived the fall from the Pali during the famous battle at Nuuanu and were then pursued and slaughtered by Kamehameha’s men. According to a former resident of the area, those warriors’ bodies were left out in the sun to rot without a proper burial. They now haunt the small, unmarked trail to the right of the road where there are lauae ferns. When people pick the ferns, many of them report being followed home by shadowy figures. Some have fallen ill, while others are haunted by terrifying nightmares. Returning the ferns can sometimes remedy the situation, but chances are if you take the ferns, nothing can help you.
Read more in our October 2008 story Oahu's Most Haunted Places.