Traditions and superstitions are magically woven into Hawaiian culture, adding to the mystique and charm of this island sanctuary. These thriving legends were around long before luxury hotels, condos and prime real estate decorated the islands. Test your island knowledge with this sampling:

  • Don’t take a lava rock from a volcano, or a rock or sand from the beach outside of Hawaii. Apparently, you will be cursed by the fire goddess, Pele if you take anything natural outside of Hawaii. This is considered quite taboo. You’re better off grabbing a magnet from the airport if you’re planning on leaving the island.
  • If you visit a Hawaii Island volcano, offer Ohelo berries to Pele. Do take the goddess some berries so that you may gain access to her lush landscape. A hostess gift is always appreciated.
  • Beware The Night Marchers.  Don’t whistle at night. This summons the Hukai’po, spirits of ancient Hawaiian warriors, also known as The Night Marchers. The Night Marchers presence is known by the sounds of beating drums in the distance and are said to march in a single line, carrying torches, chanting and escorting a living relative to the “other side.” This is an important task- best to clear the area. If you do meet up with The Night Marchers, don’t look them in the eye. Get face down on the ground as a sign of respect.
  • Don’t travel with pork over the Pali Highway. Some locals believe this only applies to raw pork, not cooked, but regardless, who wants to taunt a goddess? As legend has it, your car will break down on the Pali Highway, the road that connects Windward Oahu to Honolulu. This stems from a romance gone awry between Pele and Kamapua, a pig-demigod. Carrying pork from one side of the island to the other is symbolic of transporting part of Kamapua to Pele’s territory.
  • If you pick a fern off the Pali it will rain in five minutes. Bring an umbrella with you if you must pick this fern, as it doesn’t matter what the current weather conditions are- it’s going to rain.
  • Don’t leave chopsticks standing straight up in a bowl of rice.  This just seems like good table manners, but apparently, this act leads to bad luck because it’s how you offer rice to the dead.
  • Wearing shoes in the house is bad luck.  This is said to bring in the devil, which to some, means a lot of dirt.
  • Don’t point at graveyards or tombstones. Everyone knows pointing is rude, but in this legend, it’s said that a spirit will latch on to you…and never let go.
  • The more leaves on your hala pepe plant, the more prosperity you will enjoy. The hale pepe plant is also known as the “money tree.” Keep it healthy and leafy, and enjoy good fortune.