At the local post office in the Hawaiian town of Hilo, parcels filled with rocks are piling up thick and fast in the mail room.

The parcels have been mailed by former tourists in Hawaii, who illegally souvenired rocks, sand, shells and other mineral matter from national parks during their holidays and are now desperate to send them back.

Some of the packages arrive with notes, such as "please return to the beach" or the even more bizarre: "tell Pele I'm sorry".

Because it is an apparent curse associated with Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire and volcanoes, that is compelling these guilt-ridden tourists to return their keepsakes to where they came from.


And it's been going on for years.

The Huffington Post reports that Hilo's postmaster has received many of these packages over his two-decades-long career and believes visitors do so after later learning of the mysterious "Pele's Curse".

According to the superstition, Pele curses anyone who removes lava rocks from the island with severe misfortune.

People who claim to have been afflicted by Pele's Curse over the years say they have suffered anything from relationship breakdowns to wrongful arrest.

It's believed thousands of objects are posted to Hawaii every year by former holiday-makers in an effort to appease the irate goddess.

"After we read these letters and try to understand them, you realise that the bad luck is real for these [tourists]," the postmaster, Alton Uyetake, told the Huffington Post.

"They're taking the time to send these packages because they believe they did something wrong."

The Huffington Post spoke to one such tourist who claimed that after she took rocks from Maui and returned home, her two pets died, her marriage ended and she was forced to leave her home.

"We read up on Hawaii lore after we came home. We looked at our souvenirs differently after that," she said, adding she felt the curse was lifted after she sent the rocks back.

But Jessica Ferracane from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park said while it was illegal for tourists to take rocks from Hawaii, "Pele's Curse" was nothing more than a myth.

"This myth is like a black cat crossing the road or a broken mirror," she said.

It is illegal to steal anything from national parks in Hawaii, including volcanoes. Photo / 123RF
It is illegal to steal anything from national parks in Hawaii, including volcanoes. Photo / 123RF

"There's no mention in any of the oral traditions that Pele would curse rocks, so it's just this unfortunate myth that has been perpetuated."

Still, the website asks spooked tourists to send the rocks to their Hawaii-based PO box so they can be returned to their proper place.

"Once we receive the returned lava rocks, we will carefully wrap them in a red ti leaf, which is commonly associated with good luck and lets Pele know it's been returned," the website says. "Without specific instructions, your lava rocks will be returned to a special location in Hawaii National Park, close to the home of Pele, the Hawaiian Fire Goddess and Creator of Lava."

Regardless of whether or not Pele's Curse actually exists, tourists should know it is illegal to take rocks from national parks, including volcanoes in Hawaii.