The 1963 Peter, Paul and Mary’s song, Puff, the Magic Dragon, was based on a poem written by Lenny Lipton in 1959. If you Google it, you’ll see thousands of references stating that Lipton based the poem on Hanalei (and just misspelled it as Honah Lee). The photo below shows the mountain on Hanalei Bay that looks like a dragon.
According to Lipton, this was not the case. He wrote the poem in New York City and made up the name Honah Lee.
In February, 2009, Lenny Lipton wrote a blog post titled, “Thank you, Puff the Magic Dragon.” A reader asked in comments if the poem was based on Hanalei. Here is their conversation:
December 13, 2009 at 12:04 am
I’m curious to know if you ever visited Kauai? I was just there. At the North Shore is a place, Hanalei, with both Beach and Caves. Also, they have a lot of coastal fog / mist there right now in the Fall.
December 13, 2009 at 12:06 pm
I was amazed when I visted Kuai and went to Honalei. I had not heard of it when I wrote t he song but there it was — obviously Puff’s home.
December 13, 2009 at 12:15 pm
Obviously a past life impression
Thanks for the reply.
So, while the original story adopted by Hanalei is not accurate, clearly Lipton agrees that there is something to the relationship between his poem and Hanalei Bay. I wonder, would he have written the song a little differently?