Queen Deborah Kapule At Waimea

When San Francisco newspaperman William Baker had the honor of meeting the former queen of Kaua‘i, Deborah Kapule (1798 – 1853), at Waimea in 1853, she was near the end of her life.

The alluring physical beauty by which she’d captivated men in her youth had long since vanished. She appeared older than her years, and although she was no longer as immense as she’d been in middle-age, she still probably weighed about 300 pounds.

Baker interviewed Deborah in Waimea at her neat one-room, stone house, furnished with a finely matted floor, and later noted that there was also something intangible about the place that implied dignity, peace and comfort.

While they talked, he was charmed by her good-natured facial expressions and cheerfulness.

With her were her maids of honor, who Baker described as the most beautiful women he’d seen in Hawai‘i.     

On the following Sunday, Baker observed Deborah sitting among the congregation in front of Rev. George Rowell’s pulpit at the Waimea Church, at that time a dilapidated, thatched, formerly  private dwelling located by the ocean.  

The present-day, coral-block Waimea Church, which Deborah helped build, was then being constructed and would not be completed until 1858.

An ali‘i born on Kaua‘i, Deborah Kapule (Kekaihaakulou) was the queen and favorite wife of King Kaumuali‘i, Kaua‘i’s last king.

Her storied life is perhaps best-remembered for the time she lived in a great thatched house, enclosed by a stake fence, on what is today the grounds of the Coco Palms Resort.

During the 1830s and 1840s, that house was a natural stopping place for travelers, who were welcomed with much aloha by Deborah.  

A fleet of canoes at the river’s edge was available for upriver travel, and behind her house lay taro patches, walled fish ponds, and pastures.


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