Many know Hanalei from the film South Pacific, or the song “Puff, the Magic Dragon.” But few know the history of this plantation town, which is protected by a bay, nourished by four rivers, and bordered by the treacherous Na Pali Coast. It was in the Hanalei region that the volcano goddess Pele fell in love with Kaua‘i chief Lohi‘au. In the early 1800s it was the site of a silkworm plantation that exported high-quality silk to Mazatlan and Mexico City. By 1920, Hanalei was the top rice-producing region in the Islands.

Today, Hanalei continues to balance economic development with the values of its Hawaiian forebears. Daniel Harrington’s thoroughly researched book chronicles the history of Hanalei, from the arrival of the Polynesians nearly two thousand years ago to the unexpected visit of a pod of melon-headed whales in 2004. Augmented with photographs, reference maps, and a guide to the area’s native birds, Hanalei: A Kaua‘i River Town brings the story of the town and its surrounding environs to life.


Author: Daniel Harrington