Hanalei, Kauai: American Bali Hai

© Imaginexxus LLC

Movie location scouts are constantly on the lookout for the perfect setting. Anyone hunting for paradise, would be hard pressed to find a more idyllic spot than this. Warm air with a whisper of a breeze. An endless bathtub of luscious saltwater filled with tropical fish and coral. The hypnotic rhythm of waves lapping onto the sandy beach. A dramatic mountain in the distance. And a hammock slung between two palm trees, with an open invitation to lovers to snuggle in as they watch the sun dip below the horizon.

Hanalei, on the north shore of Kauai, could lull anyone into thinking he or she was standing on the shores of Polynesia. That’s one of the reasons why producers chose it as the backdrop for the 1958 filming of South Pacific. Makana Mountain had a prominent role as the mythical island of Bali Ha’i that’s visible, but not reachable.

Fortunately for us this “Bali Hai” is within our reach. Perhaps we all can’t live there, but we can visit anytime. If only in our dreams or in the movies.

If you enjoyed this story in our series, you may also enjoy another story about Kauai as well as one describing the art of Hi’olani and . We also invite you to check out the books in our series.