Kauai Guide & Activity Map » Contact Kalapaki Beach Guide and Kauai Activity Map

Kalapaki History

Kalapaki History, Kauai, Hawaii
© Hank Soboleski.
The above picture is of Kalapaki in 1890.

Kalapaki, the northernmost of three adjoining ahupuaa -- with Nawiliwili at the center and Niumalu to the south -- borders on and extends inland toward Kilohana Crater from Nawiliwili Bay, where many Hawaiians made their homes by the shore long ago.

Then in 1849, a new era of shipping and trade commenced in the area when Lihue Plantation was established and a boat landing was built alongside Kalapaki by Nawiliwili Stream.

Thirty years later, William Hyde Rice bought a large section of Kalapaki from Princess Ruth Keelikolani, started Lihue Ranch on it and erected a beach house overlooking the bay.

Rice's beach side property was the site, in 1891, of a grand luau attended by 2,000 people honoring Queen Liliuokalani following her royal tour of Kauai. She'd been Rice's guest, and at the luau, Rice had sent for drinking water from a spring in Kipukai that was sacred to the Hawaiian gods and royalty.

In 1899, Rice's son, Charles Rice and his wife Grace made Kalapaki their residence. And on April 1, 1946, Rice's second wife, Mrs. Patricia Rice, was home at Kalapaki with her infant son when a series of 30 to 40 foot tall tidal waves completely destroyed the Rice's 19-room house. Miraculously, the pair survived, but the Rice's yardman, Charles Hada, perished while trying to rescue them.

"In the 1950s," Kauai resident Ginger Beralas recently recalled, "when I was a kid, my family spent Easters at Kalapaki Beach, when no hotel had yet been built. There was the beach, the stream, and the ironwood trees that grew on the hill above the beach, and that's it. We were often the only people there."

The Kauai Surf Hotel opened at Kalapaki in 1960. Westin Kauai replaced it in 1987, and the Kauai Marriott took over in 1995.