Hawaii has a unique history full of royalty, warriors, and culture. And with that distinct history comes our fair share of ghost stories. From haunted roads and hotels with guests of the paranormal variety to schools with roaming spirits and ancient Hawaiian temples rife with human sacrifice, the Hawaiian Islands are home to various ghosts who have decided to make the islands their permanent resting place in the afterlife. If you’re interested in some ghost hunting of your own, here are 13 of the best places to spot a ghost in Hawaii.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Volcano House Hotel
A former historic and private residence, the former owner and his family claimed to see an apparition of an elderly woman. She has also been seen in guest rooms, and wandering the halls. Sightings of a ghostly white dog have also been reported on the entrance road to the hotel.
2. H-1 Freeway
Said to be one of the most haunted places on Oahu, during construction on the major highway workers claimed to see the ghosts of ancient Hawaiian warriors. While digging through the mountain, bones of ancient Hawaiians were found. It took seven years to build the freeway because they couldn’t find people to work.
3. Iao Valley State Monument
Located within the 6.2-acre Iao Valley State Park is this famous landmark – a fern-covered lava formation rising approximately 1,200 feet from the valley floor. In the late 15th century, Maui’s ruler, Kaka’e, designated the valley as an ali’i burial ground. It is also the site of the Battle of Kepaniwai, in which Kalanikupule and the Maui army were defeated by Kamehameha the Great - in his quest to unify the Hawaiian Islands.
4. Kalaupapa and Kalawao Settlements
Located on the tiny island of Molokai, with the ocean on one side and giant 1,600-foot cliffs on the other, are the Kalawao and Kalaupapa Leper Colonies – described by Robert Louis Stevenson as a “prison fortified by nature.” Kalaupapa is now a U.S. National Park, and home to a dwindling population, those of whom are outnumbered exponentially by those in the cemetery – where an estimated 2,000 graves lie unmarked, in addition to those with headstones.
5. United States Naval Base Pearl Harbor
Little explanation is needed as to why this Naval base might be haunted, as thousands gave the ultimate sacrifice nearly 75 years ago in perhaps the most devastating attack on the United States. Located at the center of the harbor, many have reported strange sightings and mysterious footsteps on Ford Island. Unfortunately, you won't be able to explore much unless you have base access, or visit the USS Missouri as a guest.
6. Mo’okini Luakini Heiau
Located in an isolated area of the North Kohala Coast on Hawaii’s Big Island is a place so shrouded in darkness that it is advised you only visit during the day. The Mo’okini Luakini Heiau was one of the first temples to be built on the island, and has an evil history rife with human sacrifice. The large, flat stones that were used in human sacrifice still sit near the heiau, and some visitors claim that they can feel restless spirits that roam the temple.
7. King's Trail
An old coastal rock trail built by King Kamehameha I who ruled the Hawaiian Islands from 1795 to 1819. The trail circled the Big Island and served as a major traveling route for native Hawaiians. Legend says that the ghosts of ancient Hawaiian warriors still use the trail. There are reports of a procession of disembodied flickering torches and the sounds of drumming, chanting and battle cries.
8. Old Maui High School in Hamakuapoko
Former town and land division, Hamakuapoko is said to be haunted by spirits from the area’s missionary and plantation days. An abandoned high school is the site of a local legend, telling of choking ghosts who accost students who were skipping class. The ghost of a girl crying inside the boarded up high school bathroom has also been reported.
9. Oahu’s Pali Highway
Though there are several legends and tales of paranormal activity near the Pali Highway, there is one story more fascinating than the others; It is said that Pele and the demigod Kamapua’a – a half man, half pig – had a bad breakup and agreed to never see each other again. Legend has it that you cannot take pork over the Pali Highway, because it means that you are symbolically taking Kamapua’a from one side of the island to the other. If you try to bring pork across, your car will stop at some point along the journey and an old woman with a dog will appear. To continue on your way, you must feed the pork to the dog.
Also haunted is the famous Nu’uanu Pali State Wayside, the site of a major battle during King Kamehameha’s campaign to unify the Hawaiian Islands. Hundreds of warriors were pushed over the lookout, and fell to their untimely deaths. There have been several reports of their lost souls seen wandering this area after dark.
10. Sheraton Kona Resort + Spa at Keauhou Bay
Formerly the Keauhou Bay Resort, and before that the Kona Surf, the hotel has been haunted for years. Guests have called to complain of two little girls playing in the hallways, but there is nothing the security guards can do, as they know the girls are mere ghosts. Staff also tell of a ghost that stands at the cliff in front of the hotel on occasion, disappearing when you look away and then look back again. To the locals, it is obvious why there is so much paranormal activity – the hotel was built on an ancient battleground.
11. Iao Theatre
The theatre, which opened in 1928, is said to be haunted. There have been various reports of misty ghost sitting in seats throughout the theatre, as well as on stage, though witnesses claim the apparition is friendly. Other ghosts have been seen in the basement: it is said these are the ghosts of Hawaiian soldiers, who died during battle centuries ago. Witnesses have reported feeling cold spots, seeing shadowy figures, and hearing voices.
12. Palani Road
A woman died in a car crash on Palani Road during the 1950s – it was a rainy, moonless night, and the roads were rather slick. The woman was upset because she had supposedly caught her lover with another woman. She was driving too fast, and the car slid out of control and hit a tree head on near a hairpin turn. There have been several accidents in this same spot since then, and all the drivers claim to have seen a woman standing in the middle of the road, soaking wet and crying; the drivers say that they crashed trying to avoid the woman.
13. Hawaii Plantation Village
This outdoor history museum tells the story of the island’s sugar cane workers and life on the plantation circa 1850 to 1950, as well as the history of immigration to Hawaii. The village features restored buildings, replicas of various plantation structures, and a few ghosts as well. Of the village’s 25 plantation houses, approximately half of them are haunted. Every fall, the museum is transformed into a haunted house, though due to ghostly encounters and supernatural activities, actors are not allowed to work in the houses by themselves.