Eo e Emalani i Alaka’i

I just realized that the Eo e Emalani i Alaka’i festival is this weekend in Koke’e. I don’t usually mention events on this blog (since I don’t write often enough) but this is one of my favorite events on Kaua’i, and I urge anyone who can make it to go see it.

The festival consists of a reenactment of Queen Emalani’s visit to Koke’e in 1871. During that trip, she hired a guide from Waimea and traveled with her retinue up the rim of the Waimea Canyon, through the forest, across the swamp to the Kilohana lookout. When the travelers were tired, they stopped and Emalani’s friends danced hula to entertain her.


For the reenactment, people are chosen to play the royal court, they ride on horses into the big Kanaloahuluhulu meadow in Kokee, and various hula halau (troupes or schools) from throughout the state perform for the Queen and the public.


Rain or shine:


We’ve gone many times, and even our young daughter absolutely loved it. She figured out herself that the lady in the beautiful dress on the horse was a “princess” and that everyone came to her party to dance for her (sounds like the Nutcracker, another favorite). There are some booths with arts and crafts too, and afterwards you can play in the meadown, explore the forest on the nature loop, or visit the little (and free) Koke’e museum.

It all starts at 10am, and the queen makes her entrance at noon. However, do plan to arrive before noon, as parking is limited and you may need to walk from one of the temporary parking lots they set up along the roads nearby. Also bring lawn chairs or blankets, umbrellas in case of rain (also good for shade) and sunscreen in case of sun (you burn faster at 4000′ in the tropics). I also suggest bringing your own food. They have limited food sales there (maybe it’s improved by now), so we usually get bento boxes from Ishihara’s in Waimea to eat on the lawn during the show. The semi-official website is at kokee.org, and the website of one of the hula halau has some great photos.

If you do wander off during the breaks in the program, be sure to come back at the end when the queen rides away as all the dancers come out to wave goodbye. EmalaniFestivalGoodbye
EmalaniFestivalHulaHalau This festival feels very special and very moving to me; it is more than just a reenactment. The Hawaiians had an oral history, so repeating the stories, chants, and hula is how they would to commemorate (which means “remember together”) significant events. So in a sense, this event is actually a continuation of the Hawaiian culture and tradition, not separate from it. It draws you in and makes you part of the continuum.
Incidentally, there is also a guide in the reenactment, and while he doesn’t do much other than escort the queen and handle the horses, this must be one of the few events in the world that celebrates the role of the mountain guide. EmalaniFestivalGuide

I also think it is also a very unique celebration. Where else can you see colorful, authentic, heartfelt hula with a true cultural context in a such a beautiful outdoor setting? Only on Kaua’i.

Printed from: http://great-hikes.com/blog/eo-e-emalani-i-alakai-2/.
© 2024.


  1. homesnake says:

    Its been over a month brother

  2. Joel says:

    hey Andy, if you’re reading this, I hope you update this blog again! I only lived on Maui for a year and spent a few weeks on Kauai, but I loved reading your blog and looking at your amazing photos because one of my favorite things to do in Hawaii was explore the interior of the islands on hikes. Your photos really brought me back and gave me ideas for the next time I visit.

    I know you moved back to the mainland at one point, but if you have any old photos of hikes on your hard drive, it would be great to read another post from you.

    take care,

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