Hanalei is One of the Most Picturesque Small Towns on Earth

Couple walking through Hanalei Town
Hanalei is One of the Most Picturesque Small Towns on Earth

Cradled by the verdant north shore mountains on one side and the golden sand beaches and crystal clear waters of Hanalei Bay on the other side, Hanalei is one of our top picks for any Kauai vacation.

With numerous art galleries and boutiques, surf shops, bikini shops and a multitude of restaurants from fine dining to lighter fare, Hanalei has everything you need.

Hanalei Town

The center of Hanalei Town features several historic buildings which now houses the town’s many shops and restaurants. There are also several outfitter shops where you can rent surfboards, standup paddleboards, snorkel gear, and kayaks.

Where To Stay

If you can afford it, a luxury home on Hanalei Bay is our first choice. Otherwise, there are a selection of Hanalei vacation rentals in town that are more affordable. Staying in neighboring towns like Princeville or Haena will also put you within close driving distance to all Hanalei has to offer.

Things To Do

In addition to the many watersports activities popular in Hanalei are many other activities nearby including horseback riding, ziplining, and boat tours down the renowned Na Pali Coast. Two championship golf courses are located just up the hill in Princeville.


The crescent-shaped Hanalei Bay is one of Hawaii’s most scenic and pleasant beaches, set beneath a range of monumental mountain peaks directly inland from the bay. The view to the west takes in the precipitous Wainiha mountain range and in the distance is the peak of Makana, known by many as Bali Hai from the 1957 movie South Pacific.

The pier at Hanalei Bay
The pier is one of the most protected areas of Hanalei Bay, and great for the family when the surf is too large at other beaches

A favorite Hanalei gathering place is Black Pot Beach Park at the east end of Hanalei Bay near Hanalei Pier. Several other beaches along Hanalei Bay are also popular, with lifeguards stationed at Hanalei Pavilion Beach and Waioli Beach Park.

National Wildlife Refuge

Hanalei lookout overlooking taro fields and a rainbow
Taro fields make a great home for birds

At the Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge look for endangered native waterbird species include the koloa (Hawaiian duck), ‘alae ‘ula (moorhen) and ‘alae ‘ke’oke’o (coot). The distinctive ae’o (Hawaiian black-necked stilt) uses its tall and skinny pink legs to walk in the ponds while flocks of nene (Hawaiian geese) land on the grass between the taro patches and wander along the banks of the Hanalei River.


History and culture abound in the Hanalei area. Visit the Waioli Mission House for a free tour of this restored and preserved missionary home built in the early 1800s. Next to the Mission House is the original 1840 Waioli Church, also fully restored. The 1912 Waioli Hui’ia Church with its impressive architecture and beautiful stained glass windows is the most photographed building in Hanalei.

Farmers Market

Every Saturday there is a Farmers Market in Hanalei at 9:30 am at the Hanalei Neighborhood Center & Ballpark on the mauka (mountain) side of the highway just past the post office. Every Tuesday there is a Farmers Market at 2 pm at Waipa just past Hanalei Town.


Hanalei is reached by driving down the hill from Princeville and crossing over the Hanalei Bridge which is considered the “gateway to Hanalei.” Make sure to wait your turn when you come to this historic one-lane bridge, the first of seven one-lane bridges on the north shore.

Once you cross the Hanalei Bridge the road follows the Hanalei River as you can enjoy expansive views of the taro patches that extend across the plain to the base of the steep, green mountains.