When in Hanalei, you won’t run out of places to visit and sights to see. Whether you would like to go to the beach, explore the local history and culture, or see the natural sights and sounds of the island, Hanalei has several of these to offer to tourists and visitors. And the best thing about Hanalei is that it is one of the secluded spots in the island; so if you just want to relax, unwind, and get away from it all, then Hanalei is just the place for you.
Hawaii in general is known for its beaches and Hanalei boasts of several. Topping off the list is Hanalei Bay, a scenic beach on the north shore of the island. Hanalei Bay is well-known throughout the world, and it even took the number one spot for the Best Beach award on the list of Dr. Beach. What visitors and locals alike love about the beach is its natural beauty: blue skies, clear waters, and the green background of the mountains. Another is how the area is not yet commercialized and overpopulated. So if you want to have a quiet stroll on the beach, then Hanalei Bay is the place to go. Not that Hanalei Bay does not offer its own list of water adventures; you will also enjoy surfing, swimming, and snorkelling on Hanalei Bay.
Other beaches in the area that you can visit are the Kee Beach and the Lumahai Beach. These two beaches are favourite spots for photo shoots and movie and TV locations. Aside from those, some other beaches you can visit are the Kepuhi Beach, Black Pot Beach Park, and the Waioli Beach Park. You can also do surfing, swimming, and snorkelling in these beaches. And due to the proximity of these beaches to each other, you can easily go beach-hopping with your rental car.
Local Culture and History
Of course, a trip to Hanalei won’t be complete without getting a taste of local history and culture. For that, you have several locations to visit and explore that can enrich your knowledge of Hawaiian culture and how Hawaii came to be.
One of the must-see places is the Hanalei Taro Farms where you can see the staple food of Hawaii, and even get a taste of poi, the essential Hawaiian food and luau delicacy. Aside from being able to taste the food there, you can also see some wildlife and bird species from the taro fields.
For a bit of history, you should drive yourself to the Waioli Mission House, which was constructed in 1836 and was the home of Abner and Lucy Wilcox, one of the first Christian missionaries in Hawaii. See this architectural marvel by Reverend William Alexander, which used natural Hawaiian resources, like coral, limestone, and lava rock for its construction. Another attraction is the wall clock, which was installed in 1866 and still keeps the right time.
Another point of interest is the Waioli Huiia Church, just in front of the mission house. It’s even older than the mission house, as it was erected in 1834. It is said that its stained windows and emerald shingles are the well-known images distinct to Hanalei. So the church and the mission house present excellent photo opportunities and give you a good glimpse of how Hanalei was like in the past.
And for ancient Hawaiian history and religion, you can visit the Ka Ulu O Laka Heiau, a native Hawaiian temple for Laka, the goddess of Hula. Here you can see the altar still preserved and you will also see Hula dancers performing there up to this day. According to legend, this is the place where Lohiau, a mortal chief in Kauai, danced and performed for the fire goddess Pele, and the two became passionately enamoured with each other.
For a bit of Hawaiian culture, you can go to the Hanalei Galleries. There, you will be treated with a display of visual art, native handicrafts, sculptures, and hand-painted fashion clothes and accessories. You can also head on to Ola, where you can find wooden artifacts and furniture to take home with you and remind you of the island and its culture. It is also a great place to shop and dine, with several establishments offering both foreign and local cuisine. For one of the tastiest (and most expensive meals) one can go to the Princeville Resort for a one-of-a-kind dining experience. But if you don’t have the budget for it, just walk around, and for sure you can find a dining place that will suit not only your taste buds, but also your budget.
And speaking of culture, the town of Hanalei also offer ukulele concerts for an immersion in Hawaiian music. As the ukulele is one of the symbols of Hawaii, it’s a must that you hear how Hawaiians play this instrument, Hawaiian style. You can also buy CDs of these concerts to take home as souvenirs.
If you are a nature lover, Hanalei has some sights for you to see and experience. First on the list would be the landscape from the Hanalei Valley Lookout. You can drive yourself to the lookout, or hike to the location. You will get a great view of the Taro Fields and also a sweeping image of the lush green vegetation, and also of the local wildlife.
If it's wildlife you want, it's wildlife you'll see when you visit the Limahuli Gardens. From there, you can see the different native flora and fauna, and also catch a glimpse of some of the endangered species in Hawaii. You can also follow the trail up to a lookout point, where you get a panoramic view of the Napali Coast and the Pacific Ocean.
What if you crave for some underwater nature adventure? Then you should head to the Waikanaloa Wet Cave, where you can enter and do scuba diving for about 100 yards. You can check out another underwater cave nearby, the Waikapalae Wet Cave, which is also 100 yards away.
You can’t take away golf from the features of modern Hawaii. Two of the biggest names in the Hawaiian, and even in the global golf scene are in Hanalei. Both found in Princeville, the two golf courses are the Prince Golf Course and the Makai Golf Course. These two courses are designed by renowned golf course architect Robert Trent Jones, Jr.
These courses have won awards and recognition from golf publications such as Golf Digest and Golf Magazine, and have had PGA tournaments held on them. These courses are noted for the challenge that they present in addition to the natural surroundings that make for a good scenery and an unforgettable golfing experience. So if you want a great time at the greens and play where the Pros played, then Hanalei has two golf courses that can give that to you.
Boredom is not an option
With all of these places to visit in Hanalei, boredom is not an option. Whether you want to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Hanalei, or in the rich history and culture in Hawaii, you can do each or both in Hanalei. You can drive to the gardens, temples, and galleries, or you can just laze around on the beach and enjoy the quiet and scenic surroundings. When in Hanalei, the question is not where to go to but whether or not you have enough time to visit all the wonderful sights the place has to offer.