While you may be on leprechaun-overload this time of year, did you know there are folktales of small-troll-like pranksters from some of your favorite vacation destinations? Lose your flip-flop? Hotel room key card stop working? No charge on your iPad? It’s probably one of these mythical creatures in action!

Alux – Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula


Alux (pronounced ah-LOO-sh) are small, elf-like creatures that wear the traditional costume of the Mayan people and like to play tricks. Mayan farmers made agreements with the alux for their help with a prosperous harvest. In exchange, the farmer would build a little house for the alux to live in.

While the alux generally live in environments close to nature, such as caves, cenotes, rainforests and fields, the Yucatan’s development has forced them to coexist with thriving towns and resort areas. In fact, the bridge from Cancun‘s airport and the hotel zone was plagued with annoying construction mishaps until the workers built an alux house underneath the overpass to show the alux they can remain in the area despite all the urban build-up. Construction was then quickly completed, and you can still spot the alux house on your way to your the Riviera Maya.

Duende – Dominican Republic, Mexico

troll close-up portrait

Duendes are small, goblin-like creatures popular in the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Central America. In Mexican story-telling, duende especially like to take up residence in the walls of children’s bedrooms, where they play pranks and have been known to bite off a toe or two while trimming kids’ toenails.

Menehune – Hawaii


Menehune resemble gnomes in size and live deep in the forests of Hawaii, where they’ve built roads, fishponds, canoes and houses – sometimes all in one night. While menehune generally avoid humans, they love cliff-jumping into the ocean. So if you hear an exceptionally loud splash in the middle of the night, it’s probably a menehune!