From Ahukini Pier we proceeded up the coast to Lydgate State Park, one of the most popular beach parks on Kauai, due in large part to its man-made lifeguard protected lagoons, children's playground and ample facilities. It was at the northern end of the park that the scene in Blue Hawaii was filmed were Elvis Presley escorted his young female charges on a coastal horseback ride, departing from the nearby Coco Palms Hotel. If you watch the film, you'll notice that in 1961 these lagoons did not exist. This was still quite a rustic area.
Proceeding over the Wailua River, we passed what was once the Coco Palms Hotel. Coco Palms was, of course, the main Kauai location for Blue Hawaii and is best known as the place where the wedding scene took place, but it also was used in such films as South Pacific and Pagan Love Song as well as the TV series Fantasy Island.
The Coco Palms Resort was once "the" resort to stay in on Kauai. In its heyday it was filled to capacity with honeymooners, repeat visitors and numerous celebrities. I still get mail almost every month asking about the resort - mostly from couples who stayed there on their honeymoon.
Coco Palms was in a decline by the early 1990's but no one could have imagined that the resort would be destroyed on September 11, 1992 when Hurricane Iniki struck Kauai with its Category 4 winds. The main hotel building lost it's roof and was flooded. Most of the cottages were severely damaged as was the wedding chapel and interiors of the huge bars.
The resort has been closed since Iniki and access to the property is severely limited. What remains today is mostly a shell of the former resort. The 2,000 tree coconut grove still thrives and the fishponds still are there. In fact, several weddings are still held on the property each month.
The property had been purchased by a group who intended to rebuild the resort as close to the original as possible (as required by the terms of the sale.) Construction was to begin sometime in 2006, but in September 2007 the developer decided to put it up for sale, partly blaming the county Planning Commission after it rejected a plan for a full-scale fitness spa.
There is now some hope that the site may eventually be made into a public park.