Hanalei is situated in a beautiful setting, with a backdrop of taro fields on the inland side and sandy Hanalei Bay on the ocean side. From Hanalei lookout (by the 0 road marker) you can get a postcard looking view of the fields, and continue down the hill to the old style Hanalei bridge, which also provides views of the fields.
So it looks pretty in the scenery, but what is taro? The root portion of the plant is what is used to make poi, a staple food for generations of Hawaiians and usually found in mixed plates and at a lu'au. I've heard poi is an acquired taste, and having tried it a few times I have yet to acquire that taste. You should, however, try for yourself.
For a town this small, Hanalei has a lot of different shops to cater to tourists. There are stores that sell cheap tourist items and others that sell quality clothes, regional art and surf wear. It is pretty easy to walk from one place to the next. They have done a nice job at converting the old school building into a place for shops and food. The historic Ching Young Village shopping center across the street isn't as spiffy, but does have a variety of shops.
My wife's favorite: Yellowfish Trading
Teenager's favorite: Hanalei Surf Company
Something different: Havaiki
Cheap stuff: Village Variety
Just east of Princeville there is a long beach with shallow waters that is great for safe swimming with kids. It's protected by a reef, that also provides for good snorkeling when the visibility is good. The long beach is great for walking too, and has good views all along the way.
The main part of the beach is called Anini Beach. At the far west end is Wyllie Beach, which can easily be reached by walking and getting your feet wet when crossing a stream channel.
Hanalei has a great little farmers market on Tuesday afternoon. Here there will be plenty of fresh fruits and produce, flowers and other items like honey. It starts at 2 pm, and you should know that there will be dozens of people waiting for it to open so they can rush for their favorite things. The day we were there we snapped up some sweet, small pineapples that disappeared within five minutes of opening time.
This is a beautiful, long golden sand beach just to the west of Hanalei. Once you are there you may recognize it from postcards you've seen, or from the movie South Pacific, where Mitzi Gaynor washed that man right out of her hair.
While the beach is great for walking and to look at, swimming conditions aren't too good; lacking a good reef, the waves are powerful and can be dangerous.
Hanalei Bay is a long crescent of sand that has easy beach access along the way. It is actually considered four beaches: Waikoko Beach, Wai'oli Beach Park, Hanali Pavilion Beach Park and Black Pot Beach. The swimming isn't the best here, but surfing is good, and near the pier there is a decent area for boogie boarding and taking surf lessons. The backdrop of the pier makes for a picturesque atmosphere and is a stop on the tour for people checking out locations from movies they have seen (South Pacific in this case). At the parks there are facilities such as picnic tables and restrooms.
This is another great picture spot and also a fishing spot. When we came here there were alot of local guys trying to catch their breakfast.
Also this is a spot for yacht racing during the summer months. In the winter months you can see some top knotch surfing in the Hanalei Bay which is the largest bay on Kauai.
This is a nice place to stop and look at the valley. Its the look out that you can see from the main road. This used to be where they grew rice in the 1850's but now they are famous for producing taro.
The valley is beautiful and a great spot for taking pictures. Also this place serves as a US Fish and Wildlife Service perserve.
We took a sunset cruise on this sailing catamaran during our trip in September 2003. It was a great way to see the beautiful cliffs of the Na Pali Coast. Our guides were very knowledgeable and answered all of our questions related to the cliffs, formations, sea life, and Hawaiian history. Complimentary snacks (fresh sliced pineapple, cookies, bottled water, and juices) are provided. During the summer season and on our late afternoon/early evening cruise, the waters were fairly calm so sea sickness wasn't a problem. It's a bit pricey but nothing beats being out on the water in nice weather.
Tours leave from near the boat ramp at the Hanalei Beach Park. I believe you can make reservations in Hanalei at a small stand in the parking lot on the west end of the Ching Young Village near the juice wagon. Or you can make reservations on line or by giving them a call.
Hanalei Bay is a crescent shape and has a large expanse of beach on the southeast quarter. At the southern most end is Pinetrees Beach Park and at the north is Hanalei Beach Park. Public restrooms, showers, picnic tables, and grills are available at these locations and near a pavilion in between the two aforementioned beach parks. Hanalei Beach Park also has a boat ramp near where the Hanalei River empties into the bay and the infamous Hanalei Pier.
Even though this is a bay, the surf here can be dangerous as with other beaches along the North Shore so extreme caution is a must for swimmers, surfers, boogie boarders, and snorkelers.
This wood-shingled church and the pier are the two most recognized symbols of Hanalei. The mission of Wai'oli was established by the American Christian Missionaries in 1834. The church was completed in 1912 and is built in the American Gothic style. The church is a fine example of mission churches built throughout the Hawaiian Islands and still standing today. Many are still in use as well. The bell tower houses the old Mission Bell which was acquired in 1843 and was originally placed in the old Mission Hall. The hall, with its thatched roof, was constructed in 1841 and is located to the west of the church. The renowned Wai'oli Church Choir sings hymns in Hawaiian during the 10:00am Sunday service and is well worth a listen.
Hanalei Beach Park offers a great view of the sunet with the scenic coastal mountains as a back drop and the interesting Hanalei Pier in the foreground. This is a scene recognizable from post cards of the area. Drive to the beach on Weke Road and park your car at the beach park parking lot. Walk southwest along the beach in order to catch the sunset behind the silhouette of the pier.
The lookout is actually in Princeville just past the Princeville Center on your left as you drive towards Hanalei on the Kuhio Highway. The lookout offers the post card views of the taro fields below and the beautiful mountains in the background. The first one-lane bridge you'll come to as you continue west on the highway, the Hanalei Bridge, can be seen at the lower right. This is arguably one of the two best views (along with that of Waimea Canyon) on the island.
The trail head begins at the end Highway 560 at Key beach. The trail is rarely level, it can be slippery, at times and is narrow. I recommend wearing hiking shoes or at least running shoes with some traction.
This trail has rewarding views of the Na Poli Coast and of Key beach.
Golfing on the North Shore of Kauai. Play the Prince Course or The Makai.
The Prince is a magnificent course carved out of the jungle. Breathtaking views of the mountains and ocean, might even see a rainbow. The Makai is more forgiving for the golfer, but just as beautiful. Bring plenty of golf balls