When you mix a simple, country lifestyle with an eclectic beach town you get Hanalei.


Located approximately 3 miles (5 km) west of Princeville, past two scenic lookouts, across a historic one-lane bridge, and amongst wetland taro fields, you’ll seem to travel back in time as you arrive in Hanalei. World famous for its beach and bay, it’s more than just a surfer’s paradise. Small in size, measuring less than one square mile (259 ha) in land area, Hanalei is big on charm and personality.

 

Visitors gather on the crescent-shaped stretch of sandy beach to worship the sun in a variety of ways. Spend an easy day reading on the shore or strolling to the pier, where you can watch locals fish or gaze at the sailboats anchored in the bay. Under the watchful eyes of lifeguards, surf, swim, or boogie board in the warm, turquoise waters of the Pacific. If a break from the sunshine is needed, rest in the shade of pine trees at the sand’s edge.

 

The bay isn’t the only choice for water activities. Take a journey, via kayak or stand-up paddle board, on the Hanalei River. Fed by Mount Waialeale, the river meanders under the one-lane bridge, built in 1912, and into Hanalei Valley.

 

For those looking to pursue a more strenuous workout, hike the Okolehao Trail. Picture-perfect postcard views are your rewards of the physically demanding 2.5-mile (4 km) trail.

 

Ching Young Village and Hanalei Center, with its historical buildings like the converted old Hanalei Schoolhouse, provides shopping and browsing opportunities. From surf shops to art galleries, featuring local artists, visitors can purchase a keepsake to remember their island getaway.

 

Whether you choose to BBQ, grab take-out, or have a sit-down meal, prolific food choices await you. Buy groceries at the supermarket or health-food store, walk up to a food truck window to order a “plate lunch,” or take a seat in a bistro to drink a tropical cocktail and savor modern, fusion cuisine.

 

Regardless of how you satisfy your appetite, don’t forget to try a Hawaiian shave ice. The dessert is best enjoyed when flavored with traditional local ingredients, like coconut, lychee, and lilikoi. Please don’t forget to add a scoop of ice cream, like macadamia nut or mango, to add to the decadence.


As the free roaming roosters and chickens will remind you, Hanalei seems untouched and unspoiled by modern-day standards. The resort-free town welcomes you with a warm aloha and visitors will come to understand the meaning of “island time,” a slow, relaxed pace that guarantees to refresh your spirit.