As a Hawaiian blogging about Hawaiian ghost stories and myths, I would be remiss if I failed to mention the famous Nightmarchers. Known as Ka Huakai O Ka Po in the native language, the nightmarchers are one of the most respected and feared entities. Those who come to the islands are warned to be aware of their surroundings at night, because the paths they travel intersect both rural and populated places, with recorded paths stretching across the islands, with places like Moanalua Valley, Waialua, Kawaihapai, Schofield Barracks, and Mokule’ia in Oahu alone. They have very rarely been seen, but there are always by heavy winds and an overall feeling that one shouldn’t be there. There are different types of nightmarchers vary from relatively benevolent to downright terrifying. Some stories tell of people heavy winds that suddenly die completely, or the approaching sound of drums accompanied by a stifling, oppressive heat. These are warnings by the marchers for everyone living to get out of their path. Legend tells that people who ignore these signs or are unable to move in time are in danger of being killed by the spearmen that guard the ghostly procession. The only way to be saved from death is to have ancestors in procession, and by lying by the side of the path as if dead. that way, the ancestor will recognize you as their kin and tell the spearmen to spare you.
The nightmarchers appear in different varieties, from the benevolent menehune, mythical small humanoid beings that march silently from place to place, passing easily through any solid material in their way, to the terrifying ka huakai o ka po, the disfigured and tortured warriors of long past trapped in an eternal march across the islands. While the stories of the ka huakai o ka po are told the most around the campfire, stories of the menehune appear just as often. My uncle likes to tell the tale of his own encounter with the menehune: while asleep in his room at my grandfather’s house by the beach in Kailua, Oahu, he was suddenly awakened by a bright blue light that emanated from the lower part of the wall across from him. Silently, a small spectral door opened in the wall and a line of menehune, no more than 3 feet tall, began marching through the door, disappearing without a trace into the wall opposite. To this day, he will never near the old house.
The legend of the nightmarchers has seeped into Hawaiian culture, inspiring movies, bands, and even tourist destinations. They’ve gained the notoriety and local significance much like the Jersey Devil of New Jersey or Washington’s Lady of the Lake, both joked about and feared.
Perhaps one of Hawaii’s most famous haunted sites is Morgan’s Corner. Residing along the now abandoned section of Pali highway on the island of Oahu, the tight hairpin curve is actually one of two sites of that name. Both sites sit at the crest of the curve, marked with a skeletal, moss-covered tree, but the most haunted of the two sits along the Nu’uanu side of the Pali highway.
While most storytellers will tell the tale of an amorous couple parking at the corner for a late night make-out session, only to face a nameless evil spirit that left the boyfriend hanging from the tree above the car, gutted and drained of blood, this is nothing more than urban legend. The real tale of Morgan’s Corner is much less gory, but shocking nonetheless.
In 1948, the body of widow Therese Wilder was discovered in her home on Nu’uanu Pali Rd, bound and gagged. Autopsy revealed that the broken jaw she had sustained, coupled with the cloth tied tightly around her mouth and nose resulted in her death by suffocation. It was later discovered that two escaped prisoners had committed the crime, lured to her home by the smell of cooking food. The news of this crime shocked the community, the memory of her restless spirit permeating the area around her former home, including Morgan’s Corner. People visiting the area often report ghostly sightings and sensations, including cold spots, moving shadows, and disembodied voices.
This video explains the true story behind the legend of Morgan’s Corner and introduces a ghost hunting group that explores it.
The Waial’ae Drive-in Theater was known as a popular spot in Kahala, both for it’s movie selection, and for a spirit that terrifies unwary women in the restroom area. Several years after its opening in 1956, women began reporting an encounter with a ghost whose face is a smooth canvas of skin, often standing in front of the mirror combing her long hair.
One encounter happened in 1965 when a young woman opened the door to one of the stalls to see a woman standing before her with no face hovering above the toilet. Her then-boyfriend then saw her running out of the bathroom screaming, followed by a faceless woman with no legs. A group of friends gathering in the theater in 1965 encountered a large fireball that rose from the ground and circled the parking area several times before flying straight into the screen. There has been no explanation of where the ghostly woman and the fireballs come from, but it is noted that the theater is located next to a graveyard, which is famous for being saturated with the souls of the dead, even more so for Hawaii.
Since its final closing in 1986, the area has become a favorite spot for ghost hunters, cautiously peeking into the women’s rest room for a chance to see the famous ghost.
The ghost is seen all over the island of Oahu as well. From Waikiki, to ‘Ewa beach, even in the boiler room of a Honolulu hospital, it seems the faceless woman is making her presence known all over the islands. No one knows who she is or what she wants, but for those who visit the island of Oahu, it’s best not to go anywhere alone at night, lest she find you.
Hello all, my name is Heather. I was born on Oahu in Hawaii before moving up to sunny Port Angeles, Washington. I have always had a passion for folklore and ghost stories, so the rich culture of the Hawaiian islands has always been an interest of mine. In this blog, I’ll be telling many of the famous stories and legends, both from published collections (references included) and personal accounts of family and friends, and discussing how they affect modern Hawaiian culture.