A Day in Hanalei
Keep driving west past Princeville, over the Historic one-lane Hanalei Bridge to the sleepy little beach town found on Kauai’s North Shore for a relaxing day in Hanalei. Graced with beauty that withstands the tests of time, Hanalei Town will be an unforgettable stop on your visit to the island of Kauai. Whether you take the time to stroll through the shops and art galleries of Hanalei or head straight for Hanalei Beach, you will be sure to enjoy a day in Hanalei.
The Mountains of Hanalei
You can’t step into Hanalei without seeing the three monumental, misty green mountains, Hihimanu, Namolokama, and Mamalahoa, tower up behind the town will make you feel like you’ve walked straight into the movie backdrop of an island paradise. Dozens of waterfalls often line these mountains that encircle all of Hanalei Bay.
On the western side of Hanalei Valley you will see the twin peaks of Hihimanu, reaching 2,847 feet above while forming the border between Hanalei and Waioli. Hihimanu translates to beautiful manta ray. When out in Hanalei Bay, if you look up at Hihimanu you can see it’s resemblance to the manta ray as a ray’s fin tips poke above the water while gliding along the surface of the ocean with its tail trailing behind it.
Namolokama, a massive mountain rising 4421 feet behind Maioli Valley has a flat top that catches amount of rain leading to dozens of intermingling waterfalls that can be seen cascading down from the mountain’s summit. Seen from Hanalei Town, Namolokama’s peak is often hidden behind wisps of fog that frequents the mountain’s summit.
Forming a pyramid shaped peak, Mamalahoa stands at 3745 feet with sheer cliffs that drop straight down for more than 1,000 feet. It is also known for forming waterfalls when the North Shore rains hit.
Hanalei Beach is said to be one of the best beaches in the world. With a two-mile-long crescent moon bay of white sand and majestic mountains just across the water, Hanalei beach is not only the perfect beach to spend a lazy afternoon, but also a beautiful site to feast your eyes. An idea beach for swimming with it’s sandy bottom, it’s not a beach for snorkeling. Even without snorkeling, Hanalei Beach is loved by both locals and residents and is not to be missed while spending a day in Hanalei.
Historic Hanalei Pier
Built in 1892, the historic Hanalei Pier has been a long time favorite place for locals to gather, swim, and fish after it was abandoned for shipping purposes in 1933. The pier became world famous when featured in the classic film, “South Pacific” and added to the National Register of Historic Places in Hawaii in 1979. When Hurricane Iniki hit Kauai in 1992, Hanalei Pier suffered heavy damage. Luckily, the canopy at the end of the pier has been restored returning Hanalei Pier to its glory as being a perfect place to kick back and relax while watching the sunset over Hanalei Bay.
The Hanalei River begins atop a lake found on the plateau of Mt Waialeale’s volcanic summit. Making its way almost 16 miles, all the way down to Hanalei Town, the river is the perfect place to learn how to Stand Up Paddleboard or Kayak.
Grab a Bite to Eat for Your Day in Hanalei
Venture over to Ching Young Village for an assortment of places to grab a bite to eat during your day in Hanalei. Big Save carries a large selection of poke you can just grab and go. An easy lunch to take to Hanalei Beach. For a refreshing beverage made of local tropical fruits, head to Aloha Juice Bar. Across the street, you can get a refreshing Hawaiian shave ice at Shave Ice Paradise.
Want something a little more filling and a place to sit down for a bit? Head over to Tahiti Nui for a Mai Tai and a plate or two of their island cuisine or their Tiki Man Pizza. We love stopping in here to kickback for a bit while sipping Mai Tais and sharing a plate of their specialty, panko and furikake crusted island Ono roll.
Slow Shopping in Hanalei
There are many locally owned stores, shops, and galleries to slowly make your way through in Hanalei. Once you’ve gotten your fill of the colorful shops of Ching Young Village, cross the street to Historic Hanalei Center and our favorite, the oceanic and tribal arts gallery, Havaiki. Havaiki is filled with so many beautiful pieces of work you can easily spend an afternoon looking through all of their artifacts.
Hanalei in the Movies
Even if you’ve never been to Hanalei, you are probably familiar with it and don’t even know it. Hanalei has been the backdrop of many movies from South Pacific to She God of Shark Reef to Acapulco Gold to The Descendants. Hanalei was even mentioned as a second home for the town’s psychiatrist and his wife in the TV show, Twin Peaks.
Hanalei in Music
The song, “Puff, the Magic Dragon” is based in the town of Hanalei. The cliffs that you can see from Hanalei beach look like a dragon lying down. We noticed the dragon silhouette in the mountains as soon as we saw them on our first trip to Hanalei. Hanalei is also the backdrop of Colbie Caillat’s music video “Little Things”, based on her summer living and working in Hanalei when she was 18.
Have you ever spent a day in Hanalei?
All photography by Kimmy Hayes © 2014.