Happy Halloween! It’s that spooky time of year that scares the bejeezus out of me. Anyone who knows me knows I don’t like being scared, but I love a good ghost story. I hope you feel the same way because this week I’ve decided to share some of the most haunted spots on Oahu. The Halloween spirit runs deep in Hawaii. People here are profoundly superstitious, holding supernatural stories from their respective cultures dear. Obviously, I wouldn’t go to any of these places knowing they’re haunted because that would create the very real risk of my having a heart attack in public. Somehow though, in the seven months I’ve been here, I’ve managed to visit an impressive collection of haunted spots.
1. The Cliffs of Makapu’u: The Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail was the first trail Trev and I hiked on Oahu. It’s one of the most scenic spots on the island with views of lush, stunning cliffs dropping dramatically into turquoise ocean. Unfortunately, it’s also home to one of Hawaii’s most notorious spirits: goddess of fire, Madame Pele. The cliffs here are the last place she stayed before moving on through the island chain. In fact, just below the Makapu’u hike at Alan Davis Beach, Madame Pele’s chair looks out over the ocean. Madame Pele can still be seen today hitching a ride on the roads that wind through the Makapu’u cliffs. If you encounter a frail, elderly woman dressed in white, show your respect by offering her a ride before she vanishes.
2. Barbers Point Beach Park: I was out in Kapolei for work one day when I realized I’d never seen the west coast of Oahu. Since I was less than a mile away from Barbers Point, I took a quick drive to catch a glimpse of the leeward view. I didn’t know the legend of the Barbers Point guard or I may have thought twice. One night a guard was checking on a yellow Volkwagen parked in an off-limits area. He found a sleeping woman inside, whom he tried, unsuccessfully, to wake. When he returned to his station and called in her license plate, he was met with disbelief. It seems guards had been calling in this exact story for years. The woman in the car had been raped and murdered at the beach years ago. He ran back to find the Volkswagen gone.
3. Highways H-1 and H-3: These are two of the main highways in and out of town, so I travel them frequently. In fact, I think the H-3 has some of the most spectacular views I’ve ever seen. Both hauntings are stories of violating sacred land. The H-1 crosses the burial site of ancient Hawaiian warriors where construction workers in the 1950’s uncovered human remains and weapons. The spirits of these disrupted warriors haunted the construction site, attempting, somewhat successfully, to drive workers away. The freeway took seven years to build because crew members kept walking off the job. The H-3 was built over two Heiau’s – outdoor Hawaiian temples – against the intense protest of the local community. Construction workers on this site were tormented by chanting voices and flying equipment. Some locals still won’t drive this cursed freeway.
4. Hilton Hawaiian Village: This is our regular beach. All beaches are public in Hawaii, which means we can take advantage of the ones at fancy hotels. The Hilton also houses an elaborate village of shops and restaurants connected by paved walkways, which we pass through on our way to the beach. Staff and visitors at the Hilton have reported seeing a woman in a red dress dancing and wandering throughout the hotel grounds before she quickly vanishes. This is widely believed to be another apparition of Madame Pele, in her younger form.
5. Manoa Falls: This area is close by my apartment, so I’ve spent a lot of time in Manoa and I’ve done the hike at Manoa Falls. Basically this entire area is haunted by the infamous Hawaiian night marchers – warriors bound to protect the Ali’i, or Hawaiian royalty – whose war cries and drumming can still be heard. At the entrance to the Manoa Falls hike, there is a large banyan tree, which holds the night marcher’s lost spirits. They are known to walk the trail at night, when an encounter with the night marchers can be deadly. Never meet a night marcher’s gaze or you will be destined to walk among them for all eternity.
6. Queen Emma Summer Palace: This spot is incredibly sacred and off-limits to the public. Of course I didn’t know this when I visited. I’ve since heard it’s OK to visit as long as you behave in a respectful manner. The ruins of King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma’s summer palace can be found deep in the Nu’uanu valley, where the ghost of Queen Emma can be seen (and heard) walking the grounds with her son’s loyal dog.
7. Fort Street Mall: This outdoor mall in downtown Honolulu is home to local businesses, restaurants, and offices. At one time this was the location of the Pakaka Heiau – the site of Oahu’s largest human sacrifice. It is said this Heiau, owned by King Kamehameha V’s mother, Kina’u, was bordered by walls topped with men’s heads. These headless men can still be seen roaming the streets late at night.
8. Kapiolani Park and Diamond Head Tennis Courts: Kapiolani Park is very close to our old apartment, so I’ve travelled through it countless times on the way to and from Waikiki. The Diamond Head tennis courts are just outside the park on the way to our dog beach. Kapiolani Park is the site of an ancient battle, and is therefore crawling with night marchers. War cries and visions of figures in battle gear are common in the park. Over at the tennis courts, an angry man who smells of rotting flesh can be seen wandering around as if he’s guarding the area.
9. Honolulu International Airport: If this doesn’t make you want to come visit me, I don’t know what will! The Lady in Waiting is the most passive of the airport’s in-house ghosts. The story goes that she bid farewell to a fiance who never returned. She later committed suicide and has been seen on many occasions as a blonde woman in a white dress gazing out the airport window, awaiting the return of her paramour. There are many reports of mischievous ghosts in the airport restrooms and a phantom passenger at the back of the Wiki-Wiki shuttle. Easily the most frightening airport apparition, though, is the choking ghost. Locals, visitors, and even police have reported this ghost sitting on their chests to induce choking.
10. The Dole Cannery Theater: This is one of our regular movie theaters. It’s pretty nice but it’s always freezing inside. Probably because of all the ghost children. Once again, someone decided to build on top of a Heiau (why do people keep doing this?!). The history of this Hieau took a particularly tragic turn when a busload of children were killed upon crashing into the temple. The children can still be seen and heard throughout the theater, particularly in the bathrooms. There is also a resident spirit camped out in the back corner of Theater 14, so I’ll be staying near the front of the theater on my next visit.