Hawai’i is a place of boundless beauty and fun, but for one to truly appreciate the 50th state, it’s important to learn about the legends and stories behind the land. Hawaiians have told incredible stories through the generations about legendary heroes and heroines as well as gods of tremendous power and prestige.

Here are a few fascinating Hawaiian legends to know before you visit. They’ll grant you a better perspective so that you can appreciate your visit more.

Pele

Pele holds immense significance for the Hawaiian people as the goddess of fire, lightning, wind, and volcanoes in Hawaiian mythology. She represents the powerful forces of nature that shape the islands and their inhabitants’ lives. Revered as both creator and destroyer, Pele is believed to reside in the Kīlauea volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii. Her presence is felt in the volcanic activity that continuously shapes and reshapes the land, reminding the people of their deep connection to the natural world and the need for reverence and respect. Pele’s stories and legends are woven into the cultural fabric of Hawaii, influencing traditions, beliefs, and spiritual practices for generations. She symbolizes resilience, transformation, and the eternal cycle of creation and destruction, embodying the essence of Hawaiian identity and spirituality.

Maui

If you’re a fan of Disney, you certainly know of Maui. Known as both a hero and a trickster, Maui is responsible for all sorts of amazing feats. According to legend, he snared the sun and brought it closer to Earth to provide warmer weather and longer days. Maui also lifted the sky with his father’s help so that people could stand upright.

More famously, he defeated a monster known as the Long Eel and buried its body. From the Long Eel grew the first coconuts, which are indispensable, indelible parts of Hawai’ian culinary traditions. Maui also had a magical fishhook with which he could perform amazing feats—though he rarely used it to fish.

Menehune

Ireland is known for its leprechauns, who possessed great power. But did you know that Hawai’i has its own scaled-down mythical people as well? The Menehune were mysterious craftspeople who supposedly occupied Hawai’i before the Polynesian people made it their home. Small in stature but big in ideas and skills, the Menehune, according to legend, built the island’s first temples, fishponds, and other structures—seemingly overnight.

Today, they supposedly make the deep forests of Hawai’i their home. Some folklorists suspect the Menehune may be a more modern invention inspired by European legends of wee folk, but they remain an endearing, enduring myth nonetheless.

Make Your Own Legends in Hawai’i!

Those are just three fascinating Hawaiian legends to know before you visit. Learn about other ones and how they relate to this lovely land when you visit us. We offer Big Island personal tours that will show you the island, its people, and their myths up close. Contact us for a consultation on your visit today.