Hawaiian Rocks

Informant: My informant, D.L., is 20 and was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. D.L. mother works as an admissions director for his high school. He has one older brother who also attends USC. Both of D.L. parents are full Chinese, but have completely adopted the Hawaiian culture. D.L. spends most of his free time at the beach and considers himself more Hawaiian than Chinese.

Folklore: “There is a rule in Hawaii that you’re not supposed to take rocks from the beach. The rocks on the beach are said to be the home of the Goddess of Fire, Pele. It is said that if you were to remove the rocks from the island you will suffer Pele’s curse which says that any visitor who takes rock or sand away from the Hawaii islands will suffer bad luck until the native Hawaiian elements are returned.” D.L. was told this story from his brother when he was little to scare him and make sure he wouldn’t take the rocks. Now, D.L. is skeptical that the myth is true but still is superstitious about doing. Whenever he sees tourists taking rocks or sand from the beach he does get angry because he feels like they’re disrupting the flow of the beach.

Analysis: The warning is well known in Hawaii, but it is a modern legend and some people attribute it to an irritated park ranger who was sick of people carting off rocks from the beach. Still others think tour guides made up the curse to discourage tourists from bringing dirt and sand onto the buses. Either way, each year hundreds of visitors send packages back to Hawaii full of rocks, sand, and other natural materials in an effort to relieve their consciences and change their luck. For me, I try not to read into stories like these, but never try to chance my luck.