From the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1893 to the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor, the Hawaiian Islands have had quite the tumultuous history full of conflict, intrigue, and even a few events and occurrences sure to baffle you. So, without further ado, here are 9 of the most strange and weird things to have happened in Hawaiian history – including a rumored wallaby colony and a few decisions I’m sure many would rather not remember.
1. The Niihau Incident
During World War II, the small, privately-owned island of Niihau was the site of what now is called the Niihau incident: after the attack on Pearl Harbor, a Japanese fighter pilot crashed on the island and terrorized residents for a week. Two island residents, Hawila Kaleohano and Beni Kanahele, were able to disarm and kill the intruder. Shot three times during the incident, Kanahele allegedly grabbed the pilot, flinging him against a wall and cracking his skull.
2. The Crew Of The Sara Jo
In February 1979, five men set sail on a fishing expedition aboard the 17-foot Sara Jo. The men were caught in a storm, and disappeared. Ten years later, John Naughton found the Sara Jo, and remains of one of the crewmen on Taongi, an atoll in the Marschall Islands. The problem is, a government survey of the island four years after the disappearance should have yielded this evidence… So, where was the ship – and the five men aboard – during this time period?
3. The Island of Kaho’olawe
The small Hawaiian island of Kaho’olawe was used as a target for military training after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor until 1990, and is littered with bombshells to this day. Previously, Kaho’olawe was used as a penal colony under King Kamehameha III after the death penalty was abolished in 1830. Today, the island - and the surrounding two miles of ocean - are off-limits to everyone but Native Hawaiians and volunteers looking to restore the island to its once lush glory.
4. Oahu’s Wallaby Colony
A hundred years ago, two wallabies escaped from a private zoo on Oahu, and allegedly a small wallaby colony now inhabits the Kalihi Valley. Sightings are rare, and visitors are asked not to look for the wallabies on their own, as they are a delicate population.
5. Waialae Home For Wayward Boys
Located on Oahu's north shore, just blocks away from some of the island's most famous beaches, the Waialee Home for Wayward Boys was in operation from 1906 to 1947. Its residents were sent there for everything from truancy and disobedience to larceny and assault, and the extensive complex could house more than 100 boys. The building pictured is the boy's dormitory, which was later part of the Crawford Convalescent Home, and was partially burned down in 2002.
6. Kalaupapa Leper Colony
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.
7. The Overthrow Of Queen Liliuokalani
Queen Liliuokalani was the last reigning monarch and only queen regnant of the Kingdom of Hawaii. In January 1893, a group of Americans and Europeans who called themselves the “Committee of Safety” had planned a coup d’etat to overthrow the Hawaiian monarchy.
Half a dozen policemen were sent by the Queen to Iolani Palace to arrest Committee members who tried to enter. A shooting broke out and one of the policemen was shot and had to be carried out by the remaining palace guards. Then, the Committee of Safety entered, and with almost no audience, they signed a document that ended the monarchy. Queen Liliuokalani didn’t find out about it until the next day. At this time, the queen was held prisoner in her own home, and half of the palace’s furnishings were sold at auction.
8. The Menehune Fishpond
Menehune are dwarf-like creatures that reside in lush forests, far from civilization. These 2-foot tall creatures are portrayed as mysterious, but also have excellent craftsmanship, constructing anything they desire. They are credited with building the Menehune Fishpond on Kauai – in just one night. The truth is, we’re all a little unsure about the fishpond’s creation.
9. Surfing Mermaids
VIDEO Really, what more can we say about the fact that there were mermaid sightings in Hawaii? (Just kidding - we know mermaids aren’t real, but a girl can dream, can’t she?)
Which of these stories do you think is the strangest? While you’re here, check out the 11 weirdest places you can visit in Hawaii, as well as 14 little-known facts about Hawaiian history.