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Posted on Feb 16, 2014 | 1 comment

A Day in Hanalei

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. 

A Day in Hanalei Kauai

The beautiful mountain range of Hanalei can be fully seen from Hanalei Beach.

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.

A Day in Hanalei Kauai

Drew’s jumping with excitement to spend a day in Hanalei.

Hanalei Beach

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.

A Day in Hanalei

The Historic Hanalei Pier.

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.

A Day in Hanalei Kauai

Hanalei River is a perfect place to relax or learn to Stand Up Paddleboard or kayak.

Hanalei River

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.

A Day in Hanalei

An assortment of poke to select from Big Save.

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.

A Day in Hanalei

Grab a fresh coconut, smoothie, or fresh produce at Aloha Juice Bar.

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.

A Day in Hanalei

Tikis can be found while shopping around Hanalei.

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.

A Day in Hanalei

The famous cliffs of Bali Hai have been seen in many movies.

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.

A Day in Hanalei

Can you see Puff the Magic Dragon?

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.

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About Kimmy Hayes

Kimmy Hayes is the founder and editor-in-chief of AfterGlobe; a site on becoming debt free and traveling the world as a married couple. In 2012, she planned and coordinated her own do-it-yourself destination wedding on the beautiful island of Maui while serving as a moderator for the on-line community, The Knot. She is passionate about traveling to experience new cultures, snorkeling the waters of the world and reading with her toes in the sand.

1 Comment

  1. Yes, thankfully more than one day.

    I wish I could remember the name of the little restaurant that serves taro fries. Two of our party loved the fries (though the other two did not). It is on the main drag, right side, coming into town, but there are a few others there, too. You could ask whether they serve taro fries and move along if they don’t?

    The first day we arrived in Kauai for the first time, we went to a farmer’s market in Lihue and then wanted to go down into Hanalei even before we checked in. When it came our turn to cross the one lane bridge, we noticed the water was right up to the bridge. I told my hubby that if it rains while we are down there, we’d better get out quickly. No sooner did we get across and head down the road than it started to rain. We turned around and got across again, and sure enough, they closed down the bridge. We’d have been stranded in Hanalei for the night, but at least we’d have still had our luggage. The storm was historic. When we arrived at our condo the lights went out. They were out all night. Such was our first day/night in Kauai. The next four days had no swimming in the ocean because so many trees had fallen into the water. So we rearranged our schedule and did all the historical touring and shopping first, then went to the beaches and snorkeled the last few days.

    I recommend Hanalei as the best town to visit in Kauai. Be sure to stop at the lookout before going down into the valley so you can see it all from above. It’s gorgeous!

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