Hanalei: Kauai’s North Shore Gem
Travelers seeking an off-the-beaten-path experience with lush natural beauty and an old-Hawaii feel will find the ideal vacation destination in Hanalei. Surrounded by picturesque taro fields, waterfall-rich mountains, and gorgeous beaches, this quaint town can only be accessed by a quaint one-lane bridge, built in 1912.
In addition to striking scenery, Hanalei’s charming downtown includes a surprising number of excellent dining options, from acai bowls and smoothies at Hanalei Harvest Market, to coffee and sandwiches at Hanalei Bread Company, burgers and pasta at the Hanalei Gourmet, tapas and cocktails at Bar Acuda, and sushi and seafood at The Dolphin restaurant. The town also has a variety of surf shops, local and upscale boutiques, and art galleries. Just a short drive east, the towns of Princeville and Kilauea offer many additional restaurants and shops.
Hanalei hosts a farmers’ market every Saturday morning, and drop-ins are welcome at the local yoga studio, Yoga Hanalei. The lovely Hanalei river also provides opportunities for peaceful stand-up paddleboard and kayak adventures. Visitors may choose to head east to see the historic Kilauea Lighthouse, or northwest to find stunning beaches like Bali Hai and Lumahai, fantastic snorkeling at Tunnels Beach and Ke’e Beach, and endangered tropical birds and plants at Limahuli Garden and Preserve. At the northernmost end of Kuhio Highway, the Kalalau Trail boasts 11 miles of breathtaking views of the Na Pali coast.
The Night Market festivals, which feature live music, food vendors, and work by a variety of local artists, are held in Hanalei’s neighboring town of Princeville every second Sunday of the month, and nearby Kilauea town every fourth Saturday. The Prince Kuhio Day Celebration brings more live music, hula performances, craft booths, and food to the nearby town of Anahola each March. Every July, the area attracts visitors from all over the globe for the Hanalei Bay Swim Challenge.