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The Half-Faced Ghost of Old Pali Road, O'ahu

The Old Pali Road in Kailua is haunted. And not by just any old ghost. The road is home to a grotesque, half-faced phantom.

The spectre is said to be the wandering soul of a teenaged girl who was raped and killed, and whose body was left to decompose in the bushes along the desolate road. She was strangled using her most beloved toy--the jump rope she brought with her wherever she went. 

Visitors to the Old Pali Road report seeing the floating apparition of a young girl with long black hair, solemnly skipping rope as she floats down street. While this image is disturbing enough in and of itself, those who manage to look at the ghost’s face are truly in for a shock. According to eyewitnesses, her cheeks, nose, and mouth are completely non-existent. Yet her eyes remain not only intact, but wildly bulge out of their sockets. Her eyes are said to protrude this way because this is the how she appeared while being strangled in her last few terrifying moments on earth.

While this theory about the poor doomed girl’s ghost may explain the condition of her eyes, it does not say why is her lower face is gone. The reason for that, as the story goes, is that the before the girl’s body was discovered, scavenging animals had already found her and eaten away a portion of her face. 

Now she is doomed to wander forever on the Old Pali Road.

Passing the Pork and Peeing on Old Pali Road

There are several other legends associated with the Old Pali Road in addition to the story of the Half-Faced Ghost. For decades it has been an epicenter of strange activity. The site of Morgan’s Corner, a hairpin turn along Old Pali, is often connected to these tales. Near Morgan’s Corner is a set of lava steps said to be haunted. If one walks up them at midnight, they will count twelve steps. On the way back down, there will mysteriously be thirteen.

Legend also has it that one should never carry raw pork over the Old Pali Road (and the nearby and less desolate Pali Highway). If you are driving, your car will break down or get into an accident. Some people have reported that a small white dog visits their car once it is broken down. The dog is said to grow in size until the offending pork is discarded or the passengers urinate on their own car.

Heavy Vibes and Little People on Old Pali Road

A group of us girlfriends left school at lunch one day, and decided to drive around the Island rather than go back for the second half of the day. If I remember correctly, there were six of us, crammed into one car. I was sitting in the back seat with two of the other girls. We decided to "cruise" down the Old Pali Road. This is located off of the Pali Freeway, in a quick turn right off the main freeway surrounded by many plants and vegetation. Since we'd grown up here, we knew where to look, but otherwise it would not be easily found.

The place was well known as being "spooky" and having "heavy vibes". Of the many teenagers that would cruise this road, we did it in fun, yet one was always aware and respectful of the Hawaiian legends. (I remember going down this road once at night, when the driver of the car, Danny, turned off the lights for a few seconds and scared the crap out of everyone in the car--nothing happened, but I have never experienced such total, utter blackness)

Anyway, the strange thing about this road is that no matter how much you are laughing, having fun, not being serious--inevitably, after about a minute in, everyone becomes silent. The jokes either die down or are said weakly, without confidence. You see, even though the day is bright with sunshine (and the road is in fact, quite beautiful) with all of the varied Hawaiian foliage the Island has to offer, there is something different in the air. It's hard to put into words--but it feels somewhat oppressive, as if the surrounding trees have created a tunnel. There was no noise in the car, as everyone had become silent--we were all looking out the windows, in different directions. There is a strong feeling that every time you turn a corner (it's a very windy road) something will be standing in the middle of the road. It becomes tense. It's not fun, your body is tight with anxiety and you just want to hurry up and get out. No matter how many times I went down that road, or with whom, I would ALWAYS feel this way.

Anyway, it was the same this day. I just wanted to get out, it felt somehow like we were "running out of time." I kept thinking, "okay, the next curve and then the road…" but it kept going and going, I remember thinking that I'd never realized how long this road was.

Finally, we curved to the right, and there was the freeway! We started pulling out onto the main road, and I seem to remember still no one was talking. Just before we turned to merge onto the freeway, I looked in the window behind me, and saw a dwarf walking OUT FROM THE PALI ROAD! He was a "normal" dwarf, not evil looking or transparent or anything--but where was he coming from? To this day I cannot think of a reasonable explanation. There were no other cars back there, it was as empty and silent as always, and there are no homes or anything back there. This dwarf was literally walking from out of nowhere into the middle of the road we had just left behind.

I'll never forget it, he walked in that sing-song way that some dwarfs do--which makes there entire body jerk to one side and then the next, at a rapid pace, coming straight down the road. I eventually gave up trying to find explanations of where he could have come from... –Paige

Perhaps the dwarf seen by the Paige was no ordinary dwarf at all, but in fact one of the elusive Menehune instead!

OLD PALI ROAD

I have written another story somewhere on this site, it also has to do with Hawaii (which is, of course, because that is where I grew up) but I realized it also takes place when cutting school! Which, I guess, says something about me!

A group of us girlfriends left school at lunch one day, and decided to drive around the Island rather than go back for the second half of the day. If I remember correctly, there were six of us, crammed into one car. I was sitting in the back seat with two of the other girls. We decided to "cruise" down the old Pali Road.

This is located off of the Pali Freeway, in a quick turn right off the main freeway surrounded by many plants and vegetation. Since we'd grown up here, we knew where to look, but otherwise it would not be easily found. (this was in the early 80's-- this road is no longer open for cars)

The place was well known as being "spooky" and having "heavy vibes". Of the many teenagers that would cruise this road, we did it in fun, yet one was always aware and respectful of the Hawaiian legends. (I remember going down this road once at night, when the driver of the car, Danny, turned off the lights for a few seconds and scared the crap out of everyone in the car--nothing happened, but I have never experienced such total, utter blackness)

Anyway, the strange thing about this road is that no matter how much you are laughing, having fun, not being serious-- inevitably, after about a minute in, everyone becomes silent. The jokes either die down or are said weakly, without confidence. You see, even though the day is bright with sunshine, and the road is in fact, quite beautiful, with all of the varied Hawaiian foliage the Island has to offer, there is something different in the air. It's hard to put into words--but it feels somewhat oppressive, as if the surrounding trees have created a tunnel. There is no noise in the car, as everyone has become silent-we are all looking out the windows, in different directions. There is a strong feeling that every time you turn a corner (it's a very windy road)something will be standing in the middle of the road. It becomes tense. It's not fun, now your body is tight with anxiety and you just want to hurry up and get out. No matter how many times I went down that road, or with whom, I would ALWAYS feel this way. (which, I suppose was part of the attraction-we humans are a strange lot)

Anyway, it was the same this day. I just wanted to get out, it felt somehow like we were "running out of time"..I kept thinking, "okay, the next curve and then the road.." but it kept going and going, I remember thinking that I'd never realized how long this road was.

Finally, we curved to the right, and there was the freeway! We started pulling out onto the main road, and I seem to remember still no one was talking. Just before we turned to merge onto the freeway, I looked in the window behind me, and saw a dwarf walking OUT FROM THE PALI ROAD! He was a "normal" dwarf, not evil looking or transparent or anything--but where was he coming from?! To this day I cannot think of a reasonable explanation. There were no other cars back there, it was as empty and silent as always, and there are no homes or anything back there. This dwarf was literally walking from out of nowhere into the middle of the road we had just left behind.

I'll never forget it, he walked in that sing-song way that some dwarfs do--which makes there entire body jerk to one side and then the next, at a rapid pace coming straight down the road. I eventually gave up trying to find explanations of where he could have come from...

Step in question

About 50 feet townside of Morgan's Corner on the old Nuuanu Pali Road, check out the underbrush carefully and you'll find the remains of some lava steps. They disappear into the undergrowth. Some readers have asked about the spooky reputation these steps have. Fred Metcalf of Honolulu even described a perfect evening for a teenage boy: "Hit the Pali Lookout first, then 13 Steps and Morgan's Corner. If no one had curfew, (then) Tantalus/Round Top drive telling ghost stories along the way, "dancing statue' at Diamond Head Cemetery, Diamond Head Lookout, Kalakaua and Kuhio avenues to check out funny looking tourists and $100 hookers, then a few passes through Hotel Street for the $25 ones and the 'queens' before sleepily heading back ..."

We're not sure which part of that enchanted evening is the scariest. But 13 Steps, according to Honolulu spookmaster Glen Grant, has a fearsome reputation.

"When you walk up the stairs at midnight, it's 12 steps, but when you walk down, it's 13!" explained Grant, who once photographed the then-uncovered steps back in the Disco Age. "Now they're all grown over."

The Ghost Dog on the Pali

There is a legend about a Ghost Dog on the Old Pali Road. It is said that if you take pork over the Pali , a little white puppy will appear in front of your car, and your car's engine would mysteriously stop. The little white dog would grow bigger and bigger , even bigger than your car, until the occupants of the car throw the pork out or pee on the front tire on the drivers side.

Pork over the Pali

Attempting to take pork over the Pali Highway is dangerous, as most island visitors learn. Despite repeated warnings that your car will break down or someone will get hurt in an accident, brave (and foolish) souls continue to challenge the gods – or in this case, the goddess, Pele, Hawai‘i’s volcano deity.

In 1986, four Hickam airmen new to the islands decided to test the Pali with a pack of bacon. They drove out to the Pali Lookout at midnight and walked down the Old Pali Road. About 30 minutes later, they came across a gulch and began to climb up from the side. One of the men climbed up to about 150 ft. before he slid and got stuck on a muddy and slippery cliff. As he struggled to hold onto a couple of weeds and rocks, his friends made the frantic call for help to the Honolulu Fire Department. When the helicopter rescue crews arrived to help save the man, the pilot, Capt. Charles Thomas, noted that, a ti leaf plant (dubbed the “Hawaiian good luck plant” because it wards off evil spirits) kept the man from falling.

According to legend, the man slipped because he and his friends brought pork up to the lookout. Food, especially pork, attracts hungry and agitated spirits. Folklorist and author Martha Beckwith (Hawaiian Mythology) says tying a fresh green ti leaf, bamboo, or lele banana leaf around the food container protects one from angry spirits. This is known as placing a law upon the food.

According to Hawaiian legends, taking pork over the Pali is linked to the turbulent relationship between Pele, the goddess of fire, and Kamapua‘a, a human demi-god – half-man, half-pig. The two agreed not to visit each other, but taking pork over the Pali means taking a form of Kamapua‘a from his domain (the wet side of the island) into Pele’s domain (the dry side of the island). Those who ignore Pele’s warnings risk her stopping the car from bringing Kamapua‘a’s body over the Pali.

Weird Hawaii

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