When the moon peak out after the long and sunny days in Hawaii, there are things to beware in the dark like the Huaka’i Pō. The Hawaiian Night Marchers is legend told for a long time, and will continue to be so.

In sunny Hawaii, the island of Oahu is hot, palms swaying in the wind soaking up the sun during the day. Along the streets, people from all over the streets are walking side by side and no one thinks of these modern marches of the modern people. But there are other types of marches that are still held in high esteem by the locals.

The day time Hawaii is a light place, a sunny place. That is during the day. Then the night comes and darkness prevails. You know, the nights are long, even though they are hot and the ghost walks among us, just as any other place.

A majority of Hawaii residents can tell about a supernatural or at least creepy encounter in their life. But these encounters are not only creepy, they are holy. One of the most popular legend to tell is of the Hawaiian Night Marchers, or the Huaka’i Pō.

Huaka’i Pō The Warriors of the Afterlife

The Hawaiian Night Marchers come in groups as they mark their presence by blowing a conch shell, beating their pahu drums, pounding out a rhythm, keeping everyone in the march in line as they chant an oli, giving everyone around a heads up. Make way, a march is on the way.

When the moon peak out after the long and sunny days in Hawaii, there are things to beware in the dark like the Huaka'i Pō. The Hawaiian Night Marchers is legend told for a long time, and will continue to be so.
Pahu Drum: The Night Marchers comes to the sound of drums.

The locals on the Hawaiian islands claim they are the spirit of warriors coming home from, or more ominous, to a battle. Why are they doing this? What war are they still fighting?

Some claim the Night Marchers are the ancestors reclaiming of lost territory, spirits of warriors from a battle gone wrong or spirits avenging their death. And considering the Hawaiian history, the Hawaiian Night Marchers might consider the battle still ongoing.

The spirits of the Huaka’i Pō are the proud Hawaiian warriors, bound to protect their ali’i in life, and the afterlife. They are also said to be spirits, either going somewhere or welcoming new warriors to their beating band.

More than mere ghosts, the Huaka’i Pō reminds more of the wild hunt from European pagan mythology and folklore.

Marching Through the Night

Although some accounts of the the Hawaiian Night Marchers legend have been reported during the day, most Huaka’i Pō is marching through the night. They are recognized with their torches held high and chanting the same olis over and over again.

Perhaps they at first glance just looks like a group of living human beings are doing a traditional march, but when one looks more closely, one can see their feet are a couple of inches above ground. Local accounts tell that the only remains that the Hawaiian Night Marchers ever marched there, is the mysterious footprints in the soil or sand just after passing.

When the moon peak out after the long and sunny days in Hawaii, there are things to beware in the dark like the Huaka'i Pō. The Hawaiian Night Marchers is legend told for a long time, and will continue to be so.
Pathways for the Huaka’i Pō: Along the highway, deep in the jungle, it doesn’t matter, the the Hawaiian Night Marchers will find their way// Photo by Kehn Hermano on Pexels.com

The Night Marches has been documented by white settlers as far back in 1883 by Captain Cook’s arrival on the islands. Hawaiian language was only a spoken one, so this is one of the first written account. But of course, the marches have been going on, long before any white settler put their foot on the islands. And the stories the locals know about, is the ones that have been passed down for generations.

The reports from Captain Cook though, tells of a mighty phantom army, led by spirit of King Kamehameha, marching angrily over the Big Island of Hawaii. In these account, the night marchers were written down as ‘oi’o.

The Hawaiian Night Marchers to Honor the Ancestors

Over the years the marchers have become somewhat of a boogeyman tale for children. But this is not the origin story of them. The Huaka’i Pō are originally holy processions, a manifestation of Hawaiian gods. The Hawaiian also had a strict caste system were the ali’i (chief) passed, commoners was not to look at them. Consequence of disobeying this rule was death.

Hawaiian storyteller and author that has taken a deep dive into the Hawaiian ghost lore as well as the legends of the Night Marchers, Lopaka Kapanui had this to say to OluKai:

The night marchers’ job wasn’t to terrorize people. It was simply to protect the most sacred, high-ranking chiefs (depending on kapu status, the Chiefs marched in front or behind the procession). The night marchers showed mercy by traveling at night to spare people from harm.

When the moon peak out after the long and sunny days in Hawaii, there are things to beware in the dark like the Huaka'i Pō. The Hawaiian Night Marchers is legend told for a long time, and will continue to be so.
Warriors of Hawaii: Night Marchers of Hawaiian legend is not only ghosts and lingering people of people that have died, but have said to also be ancient warriors or manifestations of the Hawaiian gods. /Flickr/Jai Mansson

It is not all cozy history though, as the Hawaiian Night Marchers have been blamed for many accidents of the road. Especially along he Oahu’s Pali Highway after dark, an established pathway for the marches, and there have been reports about car accidents elsewhere as well. Perhaps a note city planners should keep in mind. Listen to the old lores of the land. In any case, just to be safe: Do not travel alone on these paths at night.

Read Also: More ghost stories about Haunted Roads across the world

How to Show the Huaka’i Pō Respect

But what to do when you are out and about and suddenly the drums and chanting of the marchers are heard. How to act when you are in presence of warrior souls?

According to the warnings you must never interrupt these marchers, they have been going on long before your time, and will continue to do so, long after you’re gone. This is a custom that have been in place, even when the Hawaiian Night Marchers was done by the ancient living warriors. It was so sacred, their mission that they could not be interrupted. This is also a theory as to why the Huaka’i Pō are known to travel at night as well, because they disturb less people then.

If you can’t get out in the way before the marchers are right by you, there are some things to keep in mind: You can’t meet anyone’s eye or look at them. Unless some of your relatives are one of the spirits and acknowledged you, you are most likely dead. It is considered a bad omen and bad luck for you, your friends or family.

A foul scent of decay comes before anything else, before anything is seen. the Hawaiian Night Marchers blow their conch shells and beat their drum to announce their arrival. So what to do? Especially if there is a marching path, right through your house?

To ward off the Huaka’i Pō, Hawaiian people plants Ti plants around their home, to keep them away. But if you don’t have time to cultivate plants? It is advised that the best thing is to run and get the hell out of there. But if it’s too late it is advised to crouch down and play dead. Remember, don’t look at anyone. The Night Marchers already have their destination, don’t let it be to you.

When the moon peak out after the long and sunny days in Hawaii, there are things to beware in the dark like the Huaka'i Pō. The Hawaiian Night Marchers is legend told for a long time, and will continue to be so.
Protection from the Night Marchers: The Ti plant of Hawaii is said to have protective abilities on the Hawaiian Night Marchers. Among a lot of ethnic groups in Austronesia it is regarded as sacred and they believe they can hold souls and thus are useful in healing “soul loss” illnesses and in exorcising against malevolent spirits, their use in ritual attire and ornamentation, and their use as boundary markers. Red and green cultivars also commonly represented dualistic aspects of culture and religion and are used differently in rituals. Red ti plants commonly symbolize blood, war, and the ties between the living and the dead; while green ti plants commonly symbolize peace and healing. / source

Where the Hawaiian Night Marchers have been Observed

There are stories about the Huaka’i Pō marching on most Hawaiian islands, but reports tell mostly about places on Oahu. These are some specific locations were it is said that the Night Marchers have a pathway:

La Perouse Bay (Maui) – The Hawaiian name for this bay is Keoneʻōʻio. It has a a lava landscape that according to legends are and have been visited by night marchers.

Kamehameha Schools Campus (Oahu) – In Kapalama on Oahu. This school is over a hundred years and is said to have been visited by the Huaka’i Pō many times.

Kualoa Ranch (Oahu)– It is said to be housing the remains of hundreds of Hawaiian chiefs and the night marchers have been spotted here several times. This is also a place that the car accidents happening have been because of the Huaka’i Pō.

La’ie (Oahu) – Historically this was a city of refuge. A place where criminals were held were they didn’t get harmed and could get out free after a certain time of service.

Oahu’s Highway (Oahu)– once there was a site for a famous Kamehameha battle. Now there are many road accidents attributed to the Huaka’i Pō that are marching through this area.

Kaunakakai town (Molokai) – a sacred temple site of the Ili’ili’opae Heiau is nearby on this small and tranquil island.

When to see the marching of Huaka’i Pō

Although there are no specific days set that limits the night marchers, there are some days of the calendar that seems more important than other for the Huaka’i Pō. That includes:

Po Kane – Nights of the Hawaiian God Kane, the first of the Gods that created the universe. This day falls on the 27th day of the moon cycle of Kaulana Mahina or the Hawaiian Moon Calendar. This is the main day were they say the Huaka’i Pō is about.

Po Akua – 14th night of the new moon has also been a date were they say the Huaka’i Pō is especially active. This is a night were the spirits of chiefs, warriors and aumakua (guardian spirits) march between sunset and sunrise.

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  1. https://www.to-hawaii.com/legends/night-marchers.php
  2. https://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/story/27171113/exploring-the-legend-of-the-night-marchers/
  3. https://olukai.com/blogs/news/legends-hawaiis-night-marchers
  4. https://theculturetrip.com/north-america/usa/hawaii/articles/huakai-po-the-legend-of-the-hawaiian-night-marchers/


  1. Very, very well researched, being from the islands myself, I’m impressed, but the story does have an error. When you see a night marcher or hear one, you’re already out of time, usually. You drop to the ground face first, bury your face in the dirt until safe.

  2. Thank you for the kind comment and stopping by our site. It is great to hear coming from a person actually from Hawaii. It is a very interesting part of the Hawaiian culture. Research is king (and rather super important). I also had the understanding of dropping to the ground should be one of the first reactions. But when reading about it I found some colliding opinions on this, so I thought it safest and include the links from were the the different stories occurred.

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