Located on Kauaʻi’s North Shore, Hanalei is loved for its untouched beauty and unique setting. The town sits on a crescent-shaped bay and at almost every point along the bay you are guaranteed a photogenic scene. There are only a few souvenir shops because the town maintains its local character and is largely free of development, making it a favorite for those in search of a classic Kauaʻi experience.
Hanalei’s history is strongly connected to the missionary movement. Join a guided tour through the Waioli Mission House and Church. Originally a home for missionaries, the house has been converted into a museum that showcases Hanalei life in the 19th century.
Spend the afternoon sunbathing and swimming on the white-sand shore of Hanalei Bay Beach. Pull on a face mask and fins to see tropical fish and sea turtles. The beach spans 2 miles (3 kilometers) along the coast and is rarely crowded, making it the perfect place to relax for the day. The bay’s waves attract surfers from all over the country.
Lumahai Beach is something of a local secret and sits 2 miles (3 kilometers) outside the town center. The beach is ideal for sunbathing, though riptides make swimming impossible.
Take a hike to explore the tropical landscape and enjoy panoramas from the mountain ridges that surround the town. The Kalalau Trail is a difficult but rewarding route that offers unparalleled views of the coastline.
Enjoy fresh-caught seafood and local cuisine at one of the village restaurants and then take a walk to Hanalei Pier to watch the sun set. Fishermen and musicians line the dock, a popular gathering place for locals. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Hanalei Pier became famous when it featured in the 1957 classic film, South Pacific. This landmark is the ideal place to experience the mellow atmosphere that defines Hanalei.
Hanalei is a 50-minute drive north of Lihue Airport. Public transport is limited, so it’s best to rent a car or motorcycle to get there and to explore the region’s attractions.