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Mammal, Primate, Ape, True giant
Hawaiian cryptid, American cryptid, Polynesian cryptid
Omnivore, Out-of-place, Featured in Native folklore
The aikanaka, also called the nawao are true giants reported in the most isolated reaches of the tropical rainforests in the Wahiawa mountains on Oahu Island in the Hawai’ian archipelago. They’re described as being 8 to 10 feet tall, muscular but skinny with dark brown hair and a pointed head. Sightings of the Aikanaka are rare, due to its alleged range being uninhabited and very difficult to traverse.
In Hawaiian folklore, the Aikanaka or nawao are the descendants of Nu’u, a mythological figure who escaped a giant flood by building a massive boat. When the flood ended, it landed on Mauna Kea. There seem to be two versions of this cryptid in Indigenous Hawaiian folklore. One version is the aikanaka, a gigantic cannibalistic chief who married the moon goddess, Lona around 746 AD, before the modern Indigenous Hawaiians arrived.
The other version is the nawao, a race of the descendants of the traditional Hawaiian folk hero Nu’u. In this version, the nawao fled into the mountains where they still live, and others say the Menehune killed all of them sometime before modern-day Indigenous Hawaiians arrived in the 11th century from the Society Islands. An obvious problem with the plausibility of the aikinaka is how it got to Hawaii, as the archipelago formed 5 million years ago and was never at any point close to land. Possibly the aikanaka were, or are, capable of making rafts, as we know early humans like Neanderthals were capable of, but this is highly speculative.
In the early 1960’s, an unnamed Filipino-American man was working on the Helemano Reservoir Ditch for the Dole food company in a pineapple plantation in central Oahu. As he was setting up the sprinklers, he tripped over a deep muddy footprint, resembling a human’s, but nearly two feet in length. He showed some of the other workers, and some other veteran employees told him they’ve seen a giant man-like figure wandering through the pineapple fields. One of the employees was a Hawaiian man, who believed the giant creature was Aikanaka.
In 1973, Rob Carlson and his friend went to a remote river in the Wahiawa Mountains to catch catfish. As they were setting up their traps, they heard a human-like scream come out of the woods. They ran away in fear down a trail when they came to a curve. As they entered the curve, an 8.5 feet tall “ape man” was walking down the trail towards them. He was naked except for a small cloth around his groin, which looked like it was made out of boar-skins poorly tied together. They then ran back to were they originally were, but a 7 feet tall female Aikanaka stepped out from behind a tree. They ran into the interior rainforest and hid behind a log for a couple hours until they headed back to their car to safety.
In 1993, an unnamed woman claimed to have seen an Aikanaka lying beside a gravel road between the village of Wahiawa and Waialua.