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Travel Spotlight: Hanalei, Kauai, and its 14 Best Attractions

Posted on April 21, 2014

-by Richard Francis

Huddled around the serene Hanalei Bay directly west of Kauai’s iconic Napali Coast, this laid back hippie enclave of surfing oldies, yoga lovers and ukulele players has long been one of the less touristy stop offs on the way through Kauai’s North Shore region. Far removed from the built up beach resorts of Poipu, Hanalei town is a quaint and chilled out patchwork of cultural hotspots and exotic scenery, where life is all about relaxation and recreation in the extreme. The nearby Hanalei Bay beach is popular among local swimmers and wave riders looking to avoid the visiting crowds, while the stunning backdrop of mist-shrouded mountains and sprawling fields of Hawaiian taro crop envelopes the town in a capsule of welcome isolation. The most popular route in is by car from Lihue, where the airport has great connections to most all of Hawaii’s other islands.

Hanalei Bay by Nancy Alina Szczekocki

Delve into a Hawaiian postcard scene at the Hanalei Bay Beach Park

The go-to place for beach lovers looking for a little peace and quiet, the Hanalei Bay Park is a place at once calm and jaw-dropping. Think extinct volcanic rises overshadowing long horseshoe sand stretches, a paradise for walkers, swimmers and surfers alike. Don’t miss the Hanalei Pier, which has been something of a local icon since it was decommissioned as a port in 1933.

Waioli Mission House Museum by balihai

Waioli Mission House is an image of Kauai’s yesteryear

As an authentic relic of old Kauai culture, the Waioli Mission House enjoys a spot on the National Register of Historic Places for its well-preserved interior and grounds, both of which communicate a raw picture of what life was like for 19th century Christian missionaries on these islands. From the volcanic chimney to the age-defying and time-perfect clock indoors, there are a number of curiosities that will make this one well worth your while.

Limahuli Garden Of The National Tropical Botanical Garden by Lorna

Botany abounds at the Limahuli Garden and Preserve

This cultivated terrace preserve in the shadow of the Makana Mountain is a conservation center and botanical garden, where the displays are largely made up of Kauai’s indigenous plant species. It presents the perfect day out for interested plant-lovers or for those seeking a little solitude in the lush green hills of the island.

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About Richard Francis: Richard Francis is a TEFL teacher, world traveler extraordinaire and features writer for Hopper.com, a Boston-based travel startup dedicated to bringing the joy and inspiration back into travel planning. Visitors can find more articles from the Hopper editorial team at HopperBlog.com or on Hopper’s Facebook page.


  1. Is there any bad places on Kauai? Not a one.

    Comment by Tom — April 23, 2014 @ 1:19 pm

  2. I loved Hawaii when there
    Did the big Island and Owahu
    Want to return if I ever get the money and go to other Islands and re-visit these.

    Comment by Hazel — April 23, 2014 @ 3:02 pm

  3. One of my FAVORITE places in the
    whole world! We stay in a rental house
    on Hanalei Bay!

    Comment by Elizabeth Byrne Burley — April 24, 2014 @ 3:56 am

  4. Going back to Kauai in May for our 2nd visit, tropical, warm, beautiful, warm waters, lots of beaches – the most gorgeous of all Hawaiian Islands!

    Comment by Shelly — April 24, 2014 @ 5:06 am

  5. I have a question about the weather on Kauai during February and March. I have checked it all this past winter and it seems as the sun never shines and it’s always rainy. I know it is the rainy season but how bad is it really?

    Comment by mary — April 25, 2014 @ 5:35 am

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