Scenes from the new Waimea Valley ghost tour

Waimea Valley Group Tour

Want to know what a Hawaiian night marcher really is?  

True stories of personal encounters with the legendary afterlife protectors are part of what you’ll learn on “Whispering Walls of Waimea”—an evening journey into the spiritual and historical side of Oahu’s Waimea Valley.

The new two-hour tour is led by Mysteries of Honolulu storyteller and Hawaiian historian Lopaka Kapanui. Kapanui studied under the late, well-known Hawaii ghost storyteller Glen Grant.  

Kapanui’s first “Whispering Walls” tour happens Saturday (7/11) at 6:30 p.m., continuing once a month through March. We were fortunate to be invited on an advance tour.

“Storytelling has always been in my blood for many, many years,” says Kapanui, “but it’s a great kuleana (responsibility) to be able to share the history of this place. To be chosen to do something like this is a tremendous responsibility.”

Waimea_Valley_ghost_tour_Kapanui_OahuKapanui’s walking tour through Waimea Valley is not your ordinary ghost tour. During our sunset walk through the valley, he shared stories and legends of the kahuna (Hawaiian priests) that once lived there, and described many of the abundant pohaku aumakua (guardian spirit rocks). We also learned about the spirits of children, he said, still dwell in the lush valley’s many trees. (I could’ve sworn one of the children touched my head seconds after he invited them to join us on the tour).

Our tour began in the early evening with Kapanui chanting a Hawaiian prayer at a sacred heiau, and finished after dark, deep in the valley next to its famous waterfall. According to legend, a female spirit—a giant mo‘o (lizard)—resides at the bottom of the 30-foot-deep pool.

Fortunately, we didn’t see her.

“I cannot tell you how grateful I am for Lopaka taking this on, accepting the challenge to bring the valley to life in a different way,” says Waimea Valley director Gail Ann Chew. The entirety of Waimea Valley is managed by the non-profit Hawaiian cultural and natural resource preservation entity Hiipaka.

“This tour allows us to share a different side of the valley with the community,” says Chew.

Waimea_Valley_ghost_tour_Kapanui_OahuDinner is available for purchase, pre-ordered when you make your reservation—mini pork lau lau plates prepared by Waimea Falls Grill. (It’s a long drive from Honolulu to Waimea Valley on Oahu’s North Shore. You might want to consider pre-ordering.) Lighter fare is available too: coconut shrimp, ahi poke, veggie Thai noodles and more.

The “Whispering Walls” tour is $50 for adults, and $35 for children between the ages of 12 and 16. Tours are limited to 50 participants; reservations are required. When it gets dark, you’ll be happy that flashlights are passed out beforehand.

If you miss this month’s tour, here’s the rest of the 2009 schedule: Aug. 29, Sept. 26, Oct. 24 and Nov. 14.

A 2010 schedule hasn’t been finalized yet, but we’ll keep you updated.

For reservations or more information, call (808) 638-7766 or click here.

Our September/October 2009 issue of HAWAII Magazine will include a feature on Kapanui’s other Oahu ghost tours, of downtown Honolulu and Waikiki. We’ll show you what we saw lingering above Iolani Palace, and share Lopaka’s tales of a Hawaiian princess who occasionally appears at a famous Waikiki hotel.

For now, though, we’ll leave you with a video of Kapanui, at Waimea Valley, sharing information about what you should do if you encounter Hawaiian night marchers. (The video is a bit dark, but…we were on a night tour.)


Categories: Oʻahu