The Best of Hawaiʻi's Best Spooky Tales


The Best of Hawaiʻi's Best Spooky Tales


collected by Rick Carroll

paperback, 6" x 9"
192 pp

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The Best of Hawaii's Best Spooky Tales brings out the spine-tingling best of Rick Carroll's collected spooky stories that have fascinated readers of all ages with their encounters with the supernatural in Hawaiʻi.  45 of over 200 published stories have been selected for this best-of-the-best edition.  Relive or experience anew these fascinating accounts from around the islands.


Rick Carroll is the creator of the bestselling Hawaii's Best Spooky Tales series, collections of true first-person stories of mysterious encounters in the Hawaiian Islands today. 

Carroll began collecting oral stories in Hawaii two decades ago and has brought more than 150 new local authors to print in his Spooky Tales books. 

Rick is a former daily journalist for the San Francisco Chronicle and author of Hawaii: True Stories of the Island Spirit and IZ: Voice of the People


excerpt from The Passenger

She stood in shimmering heat waves along Queen Highway on a hot October day. I couldn’t believe anybody would be standing in the sun at high noon on what seemed like the hottest day of the year. I thought at first the woman in the white dress might be a mirage. Dark skin, the color of coffee, Caribbean maybe; black hair in dreadlocks, she looked real as a rainbow. She stuck out her thumb and I stopped.


My day full of strange encounters began in Honolulu at the airport. A security guard wanted to inspect my carry-on.

“Oh, I love your books,” she said, finding only spooky books in my bag. I gave her one. She gave me a mahalo, and waved me through.

On line at Starbucks a Charles Manson look-alike, one of the terminal’s homeless denizens, hit me up for three dollars. He wanted “a wet, double tall, French vanilla latte.” His outrageous request made me laugh. I gave him a buck.

While waiting for my coffee I was paged repeatedly:  “ . . . please return to the security gate.” I finally got my coffee and went back to find I’d dropped my ticket to Kona during the security check.

I ran to the gate only to find my plane was late. By the time I got to the Big Island the Budget rental car outfit was out of cars.

“We have a ten-passenger van you can have for the same price as an economy sedan.”

“It’s just me,” I said.

“It’s all we have,” the clerk said. She handed me the keys to what looked like a Roberts Overnighter tour bus.


That’s how I came to be all alone driving an air-condi- tioned van big enough for ten people on Queen Kaʻahumanu Highway on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi on a hot October day.

My destination was Waimea School, where I’d been invited to read from my books as part of the Marriott Outrigger Waikoloa’s annual spooky “talk story” event.

I saw the hitchhiker just after leaving the airport. With an empty ten-passenger van, I decided to give her a lift.

I stopped, she got in, and I immediately felt some- thing was wrong but didn’t know what. The chilled van seemed warmer with her aboard.

“Where’re you going?” “Waimea,” she said.

“Me too,” I said.

“Do you live there?”“No,” she said, “just visiting.”

She was neither young nor old, but somewhere in between, with caramel skin, charcoal hair, bright, clear eyes and a soft voice that sounded like music.

She carried neither suitcase nor backpack, only a white canvas bag stuffed with newspapers and maga- zines, and handwritten notes on yellow legal pads.

She had a musty aroma of sweat and something flammable. I thought the rental van had a gas leak.


Queen Kaʻahumanu Highway is unique in Hawaiʻi. The two-lane black asphalt not only runs through twenty miles of black lava landscape, but also crosses over sev- eral layers of historic lava flows and under four of the island’s five volcanoes—Kohala, Huālalai, Mauna Loa, and Mauna Kea. Pele land if there ever was.

Most passersby see only a bleak charcoal expanse, but my passenger knew and identified each and every lava flow with evident pride as if each flow were an object of art in her private collection.

“Kaʻūpūlehu flowed to the sea in 1801,” she said as we passed under Huālalai Volcano. “It filled Kïholo Bay ... ”

“ . . . and the 1859 Mauna Loa flow ran from nine thousand feet near the summit to the sea . . . ”

“ . . . the Kanikü flow covered Waikoloa and ran into the fishponds at ‘Anaeho‘omalu . . . ”

Although I had no way to verify the truth of her words, her keen recitation startled me.

“How do you know all this?” I asked.“Just do,” she said. “It’s my hobby.” We rode in her to ask for a cigarette—a common request from Pele, the fire goddess.

“Don’t you want to ask me for a cigarette?’

“I don’t smoke,” she said, smiling.

We rode on in silence.

“Are you sure you’re not Madame Pele?” I finally asked. I couldn’t help it.

“Oh no,” she said. “I’m not Madame Pele.”

“How do I know?”

“Believe me,” she laughed.

“I’m not sure I do,” I said.

In misty rain, we approached Waimea town. She said good-bye and thanks at the T-intersection.“I’ll get out here,” she said at the stoplight. She opened the door and jumped out. She cut across the corner gas station; I half expected the gas pumps to burst into flames.

That never happened. Something just as startling did. As I watched her walk away, she disappeared. Vanished into thin air. One minute she was there, the next she was gone, like that. I asked the gas station attendant if he’d seen the woman in white.

“No, brah, see nothing.”

I found Waimea School library full of kids waiting to hear spooky tales that Friday afternoon. The library was cool and quiet, I was hot and sweaty.

“Are you okay?” one of the librarians asked. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

“I’m not really sure, but I think I just gave a ride to a woman who may have been Madame Pele.”

The librarian had a sympathetic smile. “I know,” she said. “It happens a lot here.”

That night at a dinner party hosted by Patti Cook, who knows everybody in Waimea, I told my story to the other guests and asked if they had ever seen the woman hitchhiking along the Queen’s highway or walking in their town.

Now, Waimea’s a very small town, and surely some- one would have seen a woman in a white dress with dreadlocks who knew a lot about old volcanoes, but nobody ever had, at least that’s what they told me.