The myth of Pele’s migration through the Hawaiian Islands

Goddess Pele

Goddess Pele

The myth of Pele’s migration through the Hawaiian Islands is a fascinating tale of love, jealousy, and the search for a home.

Below is a brief version of the story:

Origin in Tahiti

Pele, the goddess of fire and volcanoes, originally hailed from Tahiti. Due to conflict and rivalry with her older sister Namaka, the sea goddess, she was forced to flee. This was primarily because of Pele’s fiery temper and her relationship with a man whom Namaka also coveted.

Pele’s Journey Begins

Pele began her journey in search of a new home, carrying her fire stick with her. She traveled from island to island, starting in the northwest of the Hawaiian chain.

Kauaʻi and Niʻihau

Pele’s first stop was the island of Kauaʻi. She attempted to dig a home for herself, but every time she did, Namaka would flood the pits with seawater. Niʻihau faced a similar fate, with Pele unable to establish a permanent residence due to the relentless pursuit by Namaka.


Moving on to O’ahu, Pele formed the Diamond Head and Koko Head volcanic craters. Yet, she couldn’t stay for long as her sister’s wrath chased her even here. According to some versions of the legend, the valleys and rain-soaked cliffs of the Ko’olau and Waianae mountains on O’ahu were the result of their fierce battles.


On Maui, Pele dug the Haleakalā volcano. But even at this great height, the waters of Namaka found her and flooded her pits once again.

The Big Island and Final Resting Place

Finally, Pele arrived on the Big Island of Hawai’i. Here, she first dug fire pits at Kīlauea’s summit and later the Halemaʻumaʻu crater, which she made her home. Being far from the sea, Namaka couldn’t reach her as easily. The two sisters had one final, epic battle, but Pele ultimately found her permanent home on the Big Island. The continuous activity of the Kīlauea volcano is believed to be Pele’s way of showing her enduring presence and power.

Throughout her journey, Pele left an indelible mark on each island, forming valleys, craters, and volcanoes, each telling a tale of her enduring quest for a home and her confrontations with Namaka.

Today, these legends are more than just tales; they are a testament to the deep cultural and spiritual connection the Hawaiian people have with their land and its natural phenomena.

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