The Eerie Eight: Lopaka Kapanui’s Top Oʻahu Hauntings
Spend more than a few years in Hawaiʻi, and you’ll learn that almost everyone has a ghost story to tell. It might be a personal experience or something their aunty’s brother’s co-worker’s friend shared. Often itʻs a classic tale passed down through the generations, changing a little with each retelling.
We recently spoke to Lopaka Kapanui, protégé of the late, great storyteller Glen Grant, to get his take on Oʻahu’s top hauntings. Some may be familiar, others may be new. All are creepy.
1. It’s no secret that the former Waiʻalae Drive-In theater, once adjacent to the cemetery across from Kāhala Mall, was infamous for its spirits. But it’s believed that the 8-plex Kāhala Theatre at the mall is haunted as well. Enter Theatre 6 and walk toward the front; you may see a woman seated well after the movie has ended. If you were to tap her shoulder and ask her to leave, she would turn toward you to reveal that she has no face. Theatre 6, by the way, is one of the theaters that was flooded out in 2006. Perhaps you can ask her if this was a coincidence.
2. King Intermediate School on the windward side of Oʻahu has had a reputation for being haunted since it opened in 1964. The Honolulu Police Department occasionally gets calls about vandals on the property. When they arrive on scene, they’ll have rocks thrown at them, but there’s no one there to throw the rocks.
A former principal at the school reports that a dark, shadowy figure could sometimes be seen standing in the back of a classroom, saying, “Get out” in Hawaiian. During an otherwise normal school day, a substitute teacher was pushed into a closet by an unseen force while the class looked on in horror.
3. The Contessa Condominium, across from the Hawaiian Humane Society, is reputed to be perhaps the most haunted building in all of Honolulu. Among the entities said to frequent the area is a ghost dog who haunts the grounds, and an old woman at the bus stop in front of the building. Several suicides are confirmed to have happened in that building.
4. The famous Makapuʻu Lookout on the east side of Oʻahu is notoriously haunted by a woman who only appears to men who are cheating on their spouses. She’s often reported to say, “Tell Tom I’m coming for him,” tying in to a story about a woman who killed herself after being spurned by her lover, back when the lighthouse was still under construction. Over the years, several other women have committed suicide from this point by jumping to their deaths.
5. Puʻuiki Cemetery in Waialua doesn’t exist on paper. Its history predates statehood and for one reason or another, it was never officially registered as a cemetery. Many of the graves are from the plantation era, where workers and family members were often killed while on the job or died of sickness. Perhaps not surprisingly, the most haunted section is the children’s portion of the cemetery, where the living have often felt a child pulling on their leg.
6. University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa students may or may not be able to verify this one. The ninth floor of the Hale Mokihana Dormitory is said to be haunted by a student who killed himself there in the ’90s. People have seen the deceased figure roaming the halls and every now and then, a student will see someone standing at the foot of their bed. When they question who they are and why they’re there, the figure will say, “This is my room. I died in here,” before disappearing.
7. At the Mōʻiliʻili Japanese Cemetery, people report seeing the ghost of a young boy sitting on the sidewalk. When approached, he’ll say he’s waiting for his mother. As the story goes, the last words his mother spoke to him were, “Wait for me.” So there he sits, still waiting.
8. Kāneana Cave, also known as Mākua Cave, was named for the Hawaiian god Kāne, and is also the legendary home of the shark god, Nanaue. While inside the cave, many have seen a young, local girl here asking for a hairbrush. The late Glen Grant recounted this tale while leading a tour of about 40 people. Immediately, several women in the group shrieked, saying that they had all seen the girl asking for a hairbrush earlier on the tour.