Zach Royer is a certified paranormal investigator and storyteller with Big Island Ghost Tours and the author of three books including “Pyramid Rising” and the “Hawai’i Vortex Field Guide.” Today he shares the 52 most supernatural locations on Hawai’i Island.
1) Hulihe’e Palace – Numerous sightings have taken place at Hulihe’e Palace in Kona. Visitors have reported witnessing a child ghost, possibly the young son of King Kamehameha III, Prince Albert, as well as the ghost of Princess Ka’iulani. A recent sighting during a ghost tour of a lady in a white gown occurred at the Palace, leading some to believe there are still spirits wandering the grounds.
2) Hilo Memorial (“Crying Babies”, “Babies Cry”) – In an old hospital in Kaumana, Hilo, the hallways of an old burned down hospital sometimes resound with distant, surreal cries. Years ago, a fire scorched the hospital nursery and there were many victims. The shell of the old hospital building still stands, as do the restless souls of the poor victims who still haunt it to this day. Click here to read my investigation report from a previous visit to this location.
3) King Kamehameha Kona Beach Hotel – Local legend claims that the top floor of King Kamehameha Kona Beach Hotel is haunted. People have reported hearing footsteps, chanting, and battle cries. Some even claim to see ancient Hawaiian warrior apparitions. The reason for this haunting seems to lie in the fact that this area is where King Kamehameha lived out the end of his life. On the bottom floor of the hotel, in the gallery, there are a row of oil paintings, one being a rendering of Queen Liliuokalani. The unsmiling picture appears to breathe in and out while glaring; leading some to believe the painting itself is haunted.
4) Saddle Road – Saddle Road is known for its fair share of the supernatural. Similar to Oahu’s “Pork over the Pali” story, legend says if you carry pork over Saddle Road, now called Daniel K. Inouye Highway, your car may break down or you might experience something supernatural. Some people on the island think that if you see a young girl, especially if she is wearing a red dress, it is the spirit of Pele, the goddess of the volcano. People say they have seen a lone hitchhiker on Saddle Road. Legend says if you see her, you should always pick her up.
5) MacKenzie State Park – MacKenzie State Park, located in Opihikao on the scenic Red Road in Puna, is said to be one of the most haunted places on the Big Island. It has a slightly checkered history, including unsolved murders and reports of night marchers. For years, local residents have reported seeing ghosts or experiencing strange unearthly phenomena, some of these occurrences even happening in broad daylight! People who take pictures at the park are sometimes baffled at mysterious objects appearing out of nowhere in some of the shots, including me! Local fishermen who fish at night have witnessed mysterious iridescent fireballs that bounce and roll along the surf and then disappear into the sea caves. Overnight campers have also reported seeing similar flickering green fires dancing around the park. Click here for my detailed supernatural investigation report from MacKenzie State Park.
6) Pu’uhonua o Honaunau – A city of refuge. Anyone breaking the ancient Hawaiian laws, the Kapu (taboo), was usually put to death. However, if the culprit could reach a city of refuge before being killed, he or she could work off their misdeeds. It is said that the ghosts of some poor souls who never made it inside are still trying to make it into the sanctuary. Reports of sightings at this site vary from a 30ft tall specter that walks on water, to a traveling ball of light that moves throughout the park.
7) Mauna Kea – The Big Island’s strongest vortex and most sacred cultural site, also the tallest mountain on earth measured from the sea floor to the summit. For centuries, Hawaiian royalty have been buried on the slopes of this mountain and it is unknown how many burial sites there really are. Listed in the Hawai’i Vortex Field Guide as the strongest vortex on the Big Island, the area has an intense natural energy that makes it a hotspot for reports of supernatural sightings, such as UFO’s, “cloud ships”, and strange fireballs, known locally as the akualele.
8) Naha Stone – In 1775 Kamehameha proved his strength and power by overturning the Naha stone which weighed nearly five thousand pounds. According to prophecy, anyone who turned over the Naha stone would conquer all of the islands. Today the Naha stone rests in front of the Hawaii County Library in Hilo near the site of an ancient heiau.
9) Pu’ukohola Heiau (Hill of the Whale) – This heiau is said to receive its mysterious power from a natural spring at the base of the hill, which could contribute to the many sightings that have taken place here. In order to become king and unite all the islands in Hawaii, Chieftain Kamehameha was instructed by the prophet Kapoukahi to build a temple in honor of the war god Ku. Completed in 1791, Pu’ukohola Heiau was erected expressly for ceremonies related to war. The temple is said to be heavily haunted by those who were victims of human sacrifice.10) Kona Lagoon Resort – The Kona Lagoon was torn down in 2004 after sitting vacant since 1988. The story behind the demise of the hotel was that the hotel itself was haunted. A story from the Honolulu Advertiser called it cursed. “Surrounded by ancient temples and archaeological sites, it was built on the dwelling place of supernatural twin sisters, who took the form of lizards, according to Hawaiian legend.
11) Royal Kona Inn Royal Kona Inn sits on the ancient King’s Trail, where ghostly Night Marchers are said to march to and from battle. A report by a previous guest at the Inn stated they woke up in the middle of the night and felt as if they were being choked; a common report as far as supernatural Hawaii goes. Based on the advice of a local, the bed was moved out of the pathway and the incident was never reported to happen again.
12) Reports of the Night Marchers – Night Marchers are ghostly apparitions of a band of beings who move with purpose to the beat of pounding drums. Some say they are armed spirit warriors marching to or from battle, carrying ancestral weaponry and clothed in decorated helmets and cloaks. Other accounts tell of high-ranking ali’i (ruler) spirits being guided to places of high importance, or to welcome new warriors to join in battle. The legend of the Night Marchers was born when Hawaii’s pre-Tahitian inhabitants were spotted descending the mountains where they lived in order to avoid slaughter by the invading Tahitians. This is oral history recorded in the book, “Tales from the Night Rainbow”
13) Mauna Loa – This 13,680-foot-tall mountain is home to the Hawaiian goddess of fire, Madame Pele. Rumblings within the volcanoes on the islands are said to drive her out to warn people of impending eruptions. Reports of sightings of Pele span over two centuries. Her spirit appears along forest roads or in other public places. Although her age varies, she is always wearing a red muumuu and is usually accompanied by a small white dog. Two ruined heiau platforms, one at Uwekahuna Bluff and the other on Waldron Ledge, are said to contain spiritual imprints dating back to the times when human sacrifices were made to Pele.
14) Ola’a Boy in the Pond – There is a village on the Big Island known as ‘Ola’a. In 1947 a gang of neighborhood kids were playing on the shore of a local pond when one of them, named Tanaka, fell in and drowned. When they found the boy’s body, he was at the very bottom of the pond, sitting calmly upon a rock with his arms by his side, his eyes and mouth wide open. People have reported being tugged by some unseen force near this pond. Nowadays children are warned to avoid the pond, for fear of being pulled in.
15) Uncle Billie’s Hilo Bay Hotel – An online review from July 27, 2010 by a previous guest reports a pretty startling experience. According to the person, who was a fisherman, said he was awoken in the dead of night by the feeling of his blanket being tugged off. A ghostly apparition of a lady was standing at the end of his bed, materialized only from the knees up. He left the Uncle Billie’s Hilo Bay Hotel immediately and spent the night on his boat, never to go back.
16) Mo’okini Heaiu – Mo’okini Heiau was for centuries the most important temple in the Big Island district of Kohala and much of its history has come to the present through oral tradition. The original temple was built near the end of the first millennium by Mo’okini, a local priest. It was subsequently rebuilt and enlarged, circa 1370, by Pa’ao, a priest who arrived from the south Pacific, bringing with him new gods, and the tradition of human sacrifice, a practice that endured for centuries after his death. Reports of the number of sacrifices range from hundreds to tens of the thousands, leaving a huge imprint of energy in the area.
17) Naniloa Hotel – Naniloa Hotel sits on the site of an old Hawaiian burial ground, and allegedly a night clerk at next door’s country club had a firsthand view from his desk of night spirits trolling the hallways and outside area of the Naniloa. Reports say the apparitions were amazing and that they defied the laws of physics. This story is well known with locals on the Big Island. Also, sightings of an Edwardian-era lady who walks the area have been reported by local fisherman.
18) U.H. Hilo – Hale Kanilehua, Eerie Dorm – It was said that a house once stood where the dorm is now. During the demolition of the house, a boy was playing in the area and died. On the girl’s side of dorm, the little boy was sighted on the ground floor. Sounds of the little boy walking up and down the hall, sounds of him talking and laughing, and the sound of his ball bouncing down the hall can be heard. There is a sound of whistling wind whipping through an unoccupied room, almost sounding like that of someone in agony, the feeling of being watched, toilets flushing by themselves, water turning on and off by themselves, things being moved, and sound of someone walking up and down hallway.
19) Hilo Hawaiian Hotel – The Hilo bay front has been hit by numerous tsunamis, two of the most devastating happened in 1946 and 1960. A guest at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel writes that they were awoken one night by bright lights bouncing around the room despite having a room facing the bay. The second night, the same guest asked that only “good spirits” visit them, and they awoke to find an apparition of a middle-aged gentleman wearing 18th century period clothing in the doorway.
20) Hilo’s Haunted House – In Hilo, at the corner of Kilauea and Lanikaula Streets, a house once stood where strange things happened. Sightings of a 7- to 8-foot tall manly figure have been reported to occur here near sundown. Looking neither to the right nor to the left, saying nothing to anyone, he walks right off into the bushes and disappears. Whether the giant figure of a man is still seen in Hilo is unknown.
21) Aston Kona by the Sea – A couple was staying at the Aston Kona Inn (now called Aston Kona Inn) and on the first night one of the couple awoke in the dark for no reason. They looked at the room clock. It was 4:04 A.M. The following night, they awoke again. The alarm clock said it was 4:04 A.M. The last night they were there one person woke up again for no apparent reason. They were scared to look at the alarm clock but felt compelled…and it said 4:04 A.M. Maybe something happened there at 4:04 A.M. It’s hard to say for sure…but this report really makes you wonder!
22) Sheraton Kona – Employees at the Sheraton Kona say there are two little girls that play in the hallway of the hotel where the guest rooms are located. The guests reportedly call security to tell them to stop, but the security guard has been getting that phone call for years and knows there is nothing he can do, as the girls are just ghosts. Others report a man that stands at the cliff in front of the hotel from time to time. He just disappears when you look away and then back again.
23) Captain Cook – In the day the locals in Captain Cook, Hawaii do their thing exactly like anywhere other, but tormented ghosts of the past in this settlement don’t appear to be determined to pack up and leave. Nighttime is un-departed time around here. This is the area where Captain Cook was killed by Kamehameha in battle. Folks who have never stayed for the night in this settlement may not be convinced of its superstitious history, but a stay here make anybody a believer.
24) Kona’s mermaid – If you’re ever in Kona, and you are looking to do some diving, chances are you will come across Jack’s Diving Locker. The diving company’s logo features a mermaid, and according to their website, the logo was inspired from a real mermaid sighting by one of their boat’s captain.
25) Heiau of the Mermaid – On the road to Ho’okena, near the ocean, there is a special heiau that not many people know about. One night, near this heiau, a witness reported seeing a golden glow forming into a small girl, who then disappeared beneath the waves in a mermaid-like fashion. Reports surfaced that the land’s former steward was sworn to secrecy regarding the heiau unless someone had a mystical experience there, being able to recall certain details, which the eye-witness did. Three different sightings of mermaids in this area have been reported.
26) Kilauea Volcano – Kilauea volcano is the scene of many Pele sightings. Many people, residents and visitors alike, leave offerings to her, some to the dismay of park officials who clean up broken glass bottles of gin each year. Reports of Pele sightings are common on all islands; however most sightings occur at her home, the volcano. If you are lucky enough to see Pele, consider it a blessing. Just make sure you don’t take any lava or sand off island, or you might be seeing her again soon.
27) Pele’s Curse – Pele’s Curse is the belief that anything natively Hawaiian, such as sand, rock, or pumice, will impart bad luck on whoever takes it away from the island. One version about the legend’s genesis is this: a disgruntled park ranger, angry at the number of rocks that were being taken from the islands by visitors, said that Pele would curse them with bad luck should they take anything. Another version often told is that bus drivers, tired of the dirt and grime brought on their buses by the tourists’ collection of rocks, started the story at the beginning of each tour to discourage the rock collecting. True or not, every year countless tourists send these back in order to escape the awful bad luck they acquired.
28) Laupahoehoe – It is said this small town is governed by the spirits of days gone by. Cabinets dance around, words come from the night, spirits call your name. Laupahoehoe (leaf of lava) is known for what happened on April 1st, 1946, the April fool’s tsunami, when three towering tidal waves roared over the peninsula killing many residents including over 20 children and four teachers. Other than one mangled body (crushed by the rocks) the others were never found. Only two children and one teacher survived and today a memorial stands in remembrance of the lives lost.
29) Laupahoehoe Railway Museum – Between 1909 and 1913, the Hamakua Division of the railroad was constructed to service the sugar mills north of Hilo. Early in the morning of April 1, 1946, a massive tsunami struck several low-lying areas of the Big Island. The railroad line between Hilo and Pa’auilo suffered massive damage; bridges collapsed, trestles tumbled, and one engine was literally swept off the tracks. The museum claims to have a collection of rail photographs that show a series of strange apparitions from a time when double exposure was not well known. Today, employees report hearing footsteps and background music playing softly.
30) Palace Theater – The Palace Theater is said to be one of our local haunts. Built in 1925, it is one of the more prominent public buildings constructed in Hilo in the early 20th century. It was restored years ago after having been closed and is now open. The projector room is said to have two spirits who still operate the machine from time to time. An employee reported when she first began working the projector, the activity was more prominent, but as time went on, and she became comfortable talking to the spirits, activity ceased. Another witness claims to have been touched by a spirit on her shoulder by a tall male entity.
31) Ke’ei Beach – Sightings of warrior apparitions have been reported at Ke’ei beach on the Big Island. According to an eyewitness, the apparitions were fighting with war clubs just outside of their house. Apparently a battle was fought on these grounds in the ancient past and it was Pokane night the night of the sighting. Another witness reports feeling strange at times while at the beach and seeing a black figure roaming around near sundown. Both eye-witnesses refuse to return after dark.
32) Kealakehe High School – According to Wikipedia, the name Kealakehe means “the pathway of death” in the Hawaiian language. Numerous sightings have been reported at this Kona School, such as doors opening and closing on their own, witnessed by both student and teacher.
33) Kohala’s Laughing Children – One night a girl snuck away from her friend’s house in Kohala where she was staying for a week to go up the street and meet some boys. On the way she passed a local graveyard when she began to hear voices behind her, but no one was there. The voices grew in to children’s laughter, getting louder and louder, scaring the girl who ran back to her friend’s house. The friend’s Mom told the girl that over 100 years ago there used to be an orphanage across from the graveyard that burned down and several children died in the fire.
34) South Point – South Point, the most southern tip of the Big Island, is said to be like a rift in time. Sightings of UFOs and other strange occurrences abound in this area, prompting more than numerous authors to write about the subject. I included South Point in the Hawaii Vortex Field Guide because of the strong energy that is present here, and because a “ley-line” passes through the area. Just off the southern tip, fisherman report that electronics malfunction on a regular basis and one person even reported to me personally that their boat mysteriously broke down and started leaking while out at sea resulting in having to be rescued by authorities. Ancient ruins can also be found in the area.
35) Kalapana’s Calling Ghost – A boy named Kalani was walking in Kalapana one day when he heard his name being called from behind a bush. Half expecting it to be a friend playing a trick on him, he was surprised to see it was a beautiful Hawaiian girl calling out to him, “Kalani”, Kalani”. He followed the voice to a clearing in the woods when he felt the air between him and the girl become noticeably colder, in the middle of a hot day. He ran away when the girl’s voice turned violent, almost demon-like, calling his name “KALANI! COME HERE!” A subsequent visit showed that if Kalani would have ventured towards the girl any further he would have fallen into a deep lava pit that was concealed by thick vegetation. His aumakua are said to have put the cold air between him and the girl, preventing him from falling into the pit, scaring him and saving his life.
36) Kuamo’o Burials – Kuamo’o Burial Grounds, also known as Lekeleke Burial grounds, was the site of a major battle that ended the old ways of Hawaiian kapu religious system. Located at the southern end of Ali’i Drive in Kona, the area is checkered with burial mounds and grave markers. Unlike most Hawaiian battles, this one was fought using modern weaponry, including rifles and cannons. A nice place to hike during daylight hours, the scenic area turns eerie once the sun goes down. Chicken skin can be felt here as soon as you pull up in your car. The energy imprint of the area is so intense it once caused my entire investigation team to mysteriously get a taste of blood in our mouths…not to mention our equipment malfunctioned too. The cliffs here can be dangerous, especially during high surf. During our first visit, a hiker accidentally fell over the cliff and had to be rescued.
37) Castle Ruins – Downtown Kona is very historical, with buildings dating back hundreds of years. Some of the history behind these buildings has been lost over the decades. By Kalani Street in Kona, close to MacDonald’s, there are ruins of an old building that looks like an old castle, overgrown with vegetation and barely visible from the road. Two friends were visiting the area when one of them claimed their hand was pushed by an invisible force, causing him to drop and break his camera. Afterwards, the friend was also pushed by an unseen force, causing them both to run in fear. They later learned that a king and queen had possibly died there, but that portion of this story is unconfirmed.
38) Manuka State Wayside Park – Nicknamed Obake Park, Manuka State Wayside is a small park in south Kona. Next to the parking lot are two graves, each marked by a single gravestone, by now the names well worn and weathered. It is unknown who these graves belong to, but they do exist. One eyewitness learned the hard way that if you camp overnight there you should leave a food offering near the graves otherwise you might be visited by otherworldly beings.
39) Palani Rd. Sighting – There is a story of a woman who died in car crash sometime in the 1950’s, driving up Palani Road from Kailua-Kona town. It was a rainy, moonless night and the roads were very slick. One curve is particularly bad as you come around it, the road almost hairpins to the left. The woman was very upset because she caught her lover with another woman. She was crying, and going too fast when her car slid out of control and hit the tree head on. Ever since then, there have been a multitude of accidents – all of the drivers that have run into the exact tree have claimed to have seen a woman, soaking wet and crying, standing in the middle of the road. The drivers claim that while trying to avoid her, they crashed into the tree.
40) Tombstone of Miloli’i – A husband and wife couple were on a beach near the village when the husband jumped on what he thought was a flat rock but was actually an old gravestone that had washed away now lying on the beach. As soon as he landed on the stone, he was hit with a tremendous force comparable to being hit from behind with a two-by-four. His wife witnessed the event. When they inspected the stone on the beach they realized it was a tombstone so they notified a villager who had the spooky gravestone returned to its rightful place.
41) King’s Trail – King’s Trail is an old coastal rock trail built by King Kamehameha I who ruled the Hawaiian Islands from 1795 to 1819. This trail circled the entire Big Island and, for many decades, served as a major travelling route for native Hawaiians to go from one end of the island to the other. Local legends say that the ghosts of ancient Hawaiian warriors are still using this trail. Over the years, people have witnessed eerie sights like a procession of disembodied flickering torches or heard haunting sounds of drumming, chanting and battle cries. These occurrences often happen during a windy rainstorm or on calm moonlit nights.
42) Ghosts of Greenbank – Greenbank was a mansion built in North Kohala by Dr. and Mrs. James Wight of Australia. Greenbank has over 100 years of recorded spiritual encounters. Some of the first concerns about the mansion arose when it was to be built upon the same location as an ancient Hawaiian heiau. Another major concern was the fact that Dr. Wight intentionally ignored warnings from local kahunas when he built the home directly over a young girl’s grave. Topping the situation off came when he decided to place an extremely evil stone at the base of his veranda, leading to years of illness and misfortune. The strange activity stopped once the stone was donated to the Bishop Museum, where it sits today.
43) Keaau Burial Grounds – A family living in the Hawaiian Paradise Park area of Keaau reported strange activity happening in their home after a recent remodel, a common occurrence in reports of supernatural activity. Loud banging in a particular bedroom was reported by three different family members at three different times. They learned that an ancient burial ground was really close to their home which they felt was cause of the strange happenings. The family reported the activity to be steadily getting worse, and they are actively seeking someone to bless their home.
44) Keahou Area – Reports of activity are constantly reported in the Keahou area. Between the numerous burials in the area and the hotels built on sacred ground, Keahou in general is known locally as one of the Island’s most haunted areas. One story tells of a lady who took a stone from the beach, possibly near an ancient heiau, back to her hotel room. She had a vivid dream of a Hawaiian warrior with a traditional weapon telling her to put the stone back right away. The next day the lady took the stone back, but on the way, along the trail, she claims to have seen the same warrior apparition walking with her.
Ghost Towns of the Big Island
A ghost town is an abandoned village, town or city, usually one which contains substantial visible remains. A town often becomes a ghost town because the economic activity that supported it has failed, or due to natural or human-caused disasters such as floods, government actions, uncontrolled lawlessness, war, or lava flows.
45) Honu’apo – Now a State Park called Whittington Park. Take Hwy 11 on the southeast side of the island and it can be found between Pahala and Naalehu. Honu’apo (turtle cove) was a thriving 1883 port town with industrial warehouses, a mill, and railroad connection. The port was used to transport taro and sugarcane grown to the town area. When the roads were improved, all shipments went by truck and the residents deserted the town. The pier was rebuilt twice after tsunamis had destroyed it. After the second tsunami, they gave up on rebuilding the pier and it was allowed to decay.
46) Kapoho – Kapoho was a farming town, it had stores, a church, school, several houses, but was destroyed by the 1960 lava flow, much the same way as Kalapana 30 years later. From Hilo take Hwy 11 to Keaau. Turn on 130, proceed 11 miles to Pahoa. Turn on route 132. About 6 miles down the road, on the left, is a forest of ironwood trees growing in red cinders in front of a small (100′) red rock volcano. This is where the town was.
47) Kalapana – Kalapana was one of the most beautiful old Hawaiian villages on the island. A lava flow struck the area in 1986 and destroyed 181 homes, a visitor center and maintenance shop in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, highways, and treasured historical/archeological sites. The famous painted church was moved to a new location but the community center was destroyed. A few die-hard residents continue to live near area, still facing active lava flows.
Leaping Places of the Soul
[Author’s note: Many of these portals were reported in the book “Hawaiian Mythology” by Martha Warren Beckwith in 1940. Beckwith utilized numerous texts which are today rare or hard to obtain to construct her study.]
In Hawaiian mythology, when your body dies, it is believed your soul begins a journey towards a “leina” <lay-EE-nah>, a leaping place of the soul believed to be a portal to the Other World. The worst fate that can befall a soul is to be abandoned by its god and left to stray, a wandering spirit in some barren and desolate place, feeding upon spiders and night moths. Such spirits are believed to be malicious and to take delight in leading travelers astray; hence the wild places they haunt on each island. While there is typically one or two leaping places per island, such as Ka’ena point on Oahu, on the Big Island there are said to be at least five, nearly one leina for each district.
48) Kukui-o-pae – Kohala District – Very near the northwestern extremity of the Kohala district, most northern point of Hawaii Island, near Upolu Point and less than three miles from mysterious Mo’okini Heiau and also the birthplace of King Kamehameha I.
49) Waipi’o Valley – Hamakua District – Entrance is at a cleft on a high bluff overlooking the sea or possibly on the edge of a valley wall, or mouth of a river and a tree usually serves as the roadway by which the soul takes its departure. The Waipi’o entryway is said to be at the mouth of the valley at a place called “Keoni”, an area long ago covered by sand to conceal it from human eyes.
50) Maka-hana-loa – Hilo District – Not much information is available about this leina.
51) Kumu-kahi – Puna District – Cape Kumukahi is the easternmost point of the Big Island. The name means “First Beginnings”, and it was named after a hero of the Kahiki who landed here. Kahiki means “east”, or “where the sun rises”. Legend has it that the 4 wives of Kumukahi, represented by volcanic pillars along the coast, tossed the sun back and forth. This is suggestive of the movement of the sun between the solstices as it moves along the horizon. In addition, the nearby Kukii Heiau is an ancient temple which served as a navigational school, built in the ancient times, and rebuilt in the 16th Century. The Cape Kumukahi Light is a lighthouse on the easternmost point of Hawaii. It is best known for its survival through an eruption of Kilauea in 1960.
52) Leina-akua – Ka’u District – Leina-akua translates to “God-leap”. Hawaiian scholar Mary Kawena Puku’i recorded that an old kukui tree in Ka’u was used to “cast-off” spirits into the otherworld.
Check out Zach’s books… Pyramid Rising: Planetary Acupuncture to Combat Climate Change and Hawai’i Vortex Field Guide as well as Kona Haunted Hele Guidebook