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Bali Ha'i

"Bali Ha'i"
Song from South Pacific
Published 1949
Writer Oscar Hammerstein II
Composer Richard Rodgers

"Bali Ha'i", also spelled "Bali Hai", is a show tune from the 1949 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific.


  • In South Pacific 1
  • Connections to Aoba/Ambae, Tioman, Kauaʻi, and Treasury Islands 2
  • Subsequent uses of name Bali Hai 3
  • References 4

In South Pacific

In the musical, Bali Ha’i is a volcanic island within sight of the island on which most of the action takes place. The troops think of Bali Ha’i as an exotic paradise, but it is off-limits – except to officers. The matriarch of Bali Ha’i, Bloody Mary, does a lot of business with the troops, and she meets Lt. Joseph Cable right after he arrives. She sings her mysterious song, Bali Ha’i, which has haunting orchestral accompaniment, to him because she wants to entice him into visiting her island. She doesn’t tell him that she wants him to meet, and fall in love with, her young daughter, Liat.

In 1949, Perry Como recorded the song as a single. Sergio Franchi included this song on his 1965 RCA Victor tribute to The Songs of Richard Rodgers.[1] Andy Williams released a version on his 1958 album, Andy Williams Sings Rodgers and Hammerstein.

Connections to Aoba/Ambae, Tioman, Kauaʻi, and Treasury Islands

Bali Ha'i was based on the real island of Ambae (formerly Aoba Island). Ambae is located in Vanuatu (known as New Hebrides at the time the song was written).

Ambae is visible on the horizon from Espiritu Santo island, where James A. Michener was stationed in World War II. Michener is the author of Tales of the South Pacific which is the basis for the musical South Pacific. The author used the tranquil, hazy image of the smoothly sloping island on the horizon to represent a not-so-distant but always unattainable place of innocence and happiness. Hence the longing nature of the song. In his 1992 memoir, The World Is My Home, Michener writes of his time in the Treasury Islands: "On a rude signboard attached to a tree, someone had affixed a cardboard giving the settlement's name, and it was so completely different from ordinary names, so musical to my ear that I borrowed a pencil and in a soggy notebook jotted the name against the day when I might want to use if for some purpose I could not then envisage: Bali-ha'i."

In the 1958 film version, Bali Ha'i is portrayed by the real-life island of Tioman in Malaysia. However, the scene was filmed on the north shore of Kauaʻi and Mount Makana was used as Bali Hai which is still known as Bali Hai today. Tunnel's Beach is often referred to as "Nurses' Beach" and the scene where Bloody Mary sings of Bali Ha'i takes place on Hanalei Bay.

Subsequent uses of name Bali Hai

Several products have adopted the name.

  • Bali Hai is the name of a dinner show in city of Santiago, Chile.
  • Bali Hai is a brand of lager beer sold in Indonesia.[2]
  • Bali Hai is a brand of clove cigarettes, or kretek, produced by Djarum.
  • There is a limited edition diving watch named the BaliHa’i produced by the Tiki Trading Company LLC.
  • On the island of Bali, a province of Indonesia, there is a boating excursion firm called Bali Hai.
  • Steampunk musician Doctor Steel uses it as a euphemism for his fictional island laboratory in his song, "The Dr. Steel Show".
  • Bali Hai is the name of a cocktail.[3]
  • Bali Hai is the name of an American Italian Swiss Colony, unfortified, carbonated, fruit-flavored beverage (with pineapple, guava, and passionfruit juices) that came out in 1964.[4]
  • Bali Hai Consultancy Ltd is an IT consultancy registered in the Suffolk village of Market Weston.[5]
  • Samuel Jackson sings "Bali Ha'i" in the shower after waking from a coma in the 1998 film Sphere.
  • Bali Hai is played in the background of the first dinner scene of the 1999 film American Beauty.
  • Bali Hai is the name of a Polynesian dance academy in Mexico City. Directed by Clara Snell, they won five 1st places in the Tahiti Fête of Hilo, Hawaii in 2006.[6]
  • Bali Hai is a famous seafood restaurant located in Penang, Malaysia.[7]
  • Bali Hai is the name of a restaurant located on Shelter Island, San Diego, California.
  • In the Northern Exposure 1992 season 3 episode "Wake-Up Call", Shelly Tambo mentions a place (most likely a restaurant) called Bali Hai in Kipnuk, Alaska that "got a new band".
  • In the city of Pattaya, Thailand, there is a pier named Bali Hai.
  • Bali Hai is name of the golf club on Las Vegas Boulevard, in Las Vegas, Paradise, NV, USA.[8]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^
  3. ^ Lusitain. "Bali Hai Cocktail Drink Recipe ¤ 1001 Cocktails". Retrieved 2012-01-15. 
  4. ^ p.134, Mendelson, Richard, From Demon to Darling: A Legal History of Wine in America, 2009, University of California Press
  5. ^ "Free company financial check on BALI HAI CONSULTANCY LIMITED. Free company accounts. Companies House information". 2008-01-29. Retrieved 2012-01-15. 
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
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