Love—lost and found on Kauai.
There is a haunting song composed by Kauai’s renown musician, Larry Rivera, and recorded by many our Hawaiian artists. This song is called “Kamalani” and was written as a result of the nightly croaking generated by the frogs in the Coco Palms lagoon on Kauai. Grace Guslander, realizing that guests were interested in the frogs, commissioned her hotel musician, Larry, to write a song about them. A legend in story and song was born, and became part of the visitor’s experience while staying at Coco Palms.
Enjoy this music while you read the “Legend of the Frog.” “Kamalani” performed by one of our most beloved talents, Israel Kamakawiwo’ole.
When you make your move to Kauai, you will create your own love story.
The Legend of the Frog
Far up the Wailua River is a place called Pihanakalani (The Fullness of Heaven). Its exact location is unknown because it is visible only to favorites of the gods.
Here lives Kealohilani (The Royal Brightness), a wise and beautiful monarch of high rank, and her grandson, noble Puukaninui, (Great Singer). He was tall, handsome, and very brave. And though none in the land could match his feats of strength, prowess in sports, or ability with implements, Puukaninui was loved and known for his magnificent voice.
One day, Puukaninui grew restless and decided to visit Wailua-Nui-Hoano (Great Sacred Wailua), the ancient downriver capital of Kauai, taboo to common people. Before leaving however, his grandmother warned Puukaninui to return home before sundown, or he would surely be transformed into a polokanui (large frog). He promised to obey.
When he arrived at Wailua-Nui-Hoano, people were celebrating the safe return of their High Chief Kameanakuluai (The Praiseworthy One from Rattle) There was much feasting, dancing, and singing. Puukaninui sang sweetly, and easily won the many games and contests. He had a glorious time and though he wanted to linger longer, he remembered his grandmother’s warning.
On his second visit, Puukaninui met and fell in love with beautiful Kamalani (Child of the Chief) the only child of Kamehakuluai. Together they spent many hours surfing in the nearby ocean and singing beside a romantic lagoon. He taught her songs he had learned from his grandmother and his forest friends, the mamo, iiwi and the oo birds. And before he departed, he spoke fondly of his house and its walls woven of flowering ohia lehua branches.
On his fifth visit, Puukaninui told Kamalani he loved her, and promised to return within the week to ask her father for her hand. But they spoke of love too long and Puukaninui suddenly realized it was late in the day. Dashing to his canoe, he paddled upriver with all his might, but was unable to reach home before sundown. Alas, Puukaninui was transformed into a polokanui. However, like most frogs, he did not give way to self-pity. He was determined to return to his beloved.
There were many obstacles to overcome as he hopped his way downriver. Meanwhile, Kamalani, unaware of Puukaninui’s fate, was broken-hearted he had not returned. Finally, the appearance of an empty canoe signaled the worst.
Many months passed. Then one evening Kamalani heard someone calling her. This continued until one starry night she decided to follow the voice that came from her lagoon. She walked round and round the water, but still saw no one. There was but one living creature besides herself. An unusually large frog, handsome as frogs go, sat on a lily pad singing their love song. Kamalani knew it was Puukaninui.
Those who lived here many years ago say that everyday Puukaninui would awaken Kamalani with a love song, and serenade her to sleep at night. It is said that the two have never left the Coco Palms lagoon for here they will live happily ever after.
If you are a favorite of the gods, you can see and hear the Polokanui of Coco Palms as he sits on his lily pad and sings. Some nights, if you are really fortunate, you may also see Kamalani as she joins him in song.
Let not the calls of the frogs disturb you here at Coco Palms. Just remember these are the love songs of those who live in the lagoon.
Mele Ana Manokalanipo Song