North Shore, Kauai
Haena Offers Unparalleled Snorkeling and First Class Sunsets
Haena is a small community on Kauai’s north shore along one of the most picturesque stretches of coastline in all of Hawaii.
Located near the end of the road where the famed Na Pali Coast begins, Haena is known for its lush and tropical surroundings including steep-walled mountains lined with waterfalls, pristine white-sand beaches, and an abundance of rainbows!
One of the several fine Haena beaches is Tunnels Beach, also called Makua, where an offshore coral reef forms a protected ocean lagoon. This is one of Kauai’s best snorkeling and scuba diving sites due to the many underwater caverns and ledges inhabited by colorful fish and other marine species.
Restrooms, showers, and picnic tables are available at Haena Beach Park just past Tunnels. There is also a lifeguard tower although this is not a great swimming beach since it is exposed to the open ocean and not protected by any offshore coral reef. Ask the lifeguard at Haena Beach Park for advice on safe swimming and snorkeling areas.
At the end of the road is Ke’e Beach which is excellent for snorkeling due to the protecting coral reef and the crystal blue waters. Ke’e is among the most picturesque and romantic beaches in Hawaii, set beneath the peak of Makana, often called Bali Hai from its role in the 1957 movie South Pacific. A lifeguard station and sheltered ocean lagoon make Ke’e a family friendly beach when the surf is not high.
Right next to Ke’e Beach is the trailhead for the Kalalau Trail. Two miles in along the trail is Hanakapiai Valley which makes a good day hike. Nine more arduous miles will bring you to Kalalau Valley where camping is allowed with a permit.
To get a glimpse of the Na Pali Coast from the Ke’e Beach area just walk a short ways down the beach away from the Na Pali and then look back down the coast.
Haena is an enchanting and scenic place from its mystical peaks the the azure ocean waters and spacious beaches. Rainbows are common in this tropical paradise on Kauai’s northern shore.
Also in the Haena area is the Limahuli Garden and Preserve, an award-winning botanical garden where you can see restored ancient taro terraces on the hillside and tour the botanical garden to learn about native and Polynesian-introduced species.
Haena is not hard to find, although you might get there without realizing it. Besides the beautiful beaches and homes, there is not much commercial business happening in Haena.
Before you leave Hanalei, make sure you have enough gas; you already passed the last gas station back in Princeville. Drive past Hanalei town and continue west on the winding coastal road. Haena is only a few one-lane bridges, a handful of scenic outlooks, a river crossing, and a few miles past Hanalei. When you get to the end of the road, you are there.
© 1997-2011 Aloha from Hawaii