Ideal Itinerary: Slowing Down in Hanalei

The north Kauai town draws clients with its dreamy setting and simple pleasures By: Marty Wentzel
Hanalei // © 2010 Kauai Visitors Bureau
Hanalei // © 2010 Kauai Visitors Bureau

The Details

Kauai Visitors Bureau

As Kuhio Highway heads west from Kauai’s Princeville Resort, it leads clients away from condominium resorts and man-made landscapes and beckons them toward a world all its own: Hanalei. After navigating down a narrow winding road, clients approach the north shore town by crossing the one-lane Hanalei bridge, a symbol that it’s time to slow down and smell the plumeria. Acres of shimmering taro — a staple of the Hawaiian diet for centuries — hug the road, while egrets perch on the backs of willing cattle, peacefully coexisting.

Located in a lush valley and embraced by waterfall-strewn cliffs, Hanalei presents a bucolic setting for historic sites such as a 19th-century mission home and church, contemporary draws including boutiques, galleries and eateries and two miles of white-sand beach. Whether clients are stopping for a quick snack or lingering for the day, Hanalei is a quintessential island-style hamlet that encourages them to take it easy.
Here are some suggestions to help visitors savor this one-of-a-kind oasis.

Tropical Taco
For more than two decades, Roger Kennedy served handcrafted Mexican takeout food from a truck painted the same color of green as most every building in Hanalei. He recently upgraded, moving the popular enterprise to a building with indoor and outdoor seating. Happily, the unrivaled menu remains the same. Crowds line up for his fresh fish burritos along with various made-to-order tacos, tostadas and burritos. Each portion comes with the warning, “Not to be consumed one hour before surfing.”

Tropical Taco
5-5088 Kuhio Hwy.

Ching Young Village
Conceived by a Chinese immigrant in the early 1900s, this quirky shopping center — now run by the third generation of the Ching family — has changed to meet the times. The two-story gathering place serves multiple needs with its colorful range of tenants. Clients can peruse local creations at the Artist Gallery; quench their thirst at the Aloha Juice Bar; rent kayaks, bikes and snorkel gear from Pedal and Paddle; and check out a variety of shops selling souvenirs, clothing, jewelry and food.

Ching Young Village
5-5190 Kuhio Hwy.

Waioli Mission House and Church
Home of Christian missionaries Abner and Lucy Wilcox, this well-preserved 1841 timber frame and plaster dwelling whisks visitors back in time as they view the family’s original library, lava-rock chimney, Hawaiian koa wood furniture and 19th-century clock that continues ticking today. Next door, the classic church — founded in 1834 — is a Hanalei landmark with its stained-glass windows and green shingles. Visitors are welcome to join its Sunday services, complete with Hawaiian hymns.

Waioli Mission House and Church
5-5393 Kuhio Hwy.

Mark Daniells Gallery
If there’s any doubt that Hanalei is an inspiring place to live, clients should stop by this art gallery and chat with its owner. A north shore resident since 1981, Mark Daniells uses watercolors, oils, wood, etched glass and stained glass to pay tribute to his stunning local surroundings. With subjects ranging from seascapes to tropical plants and flower gardens, his creations are displayed in a plantation-style building that fits in with the local flavor.

Mark Daniells Gallery
5-5428 Kuhio Hwy.

Hanalei Pier
When Weke Road dead-ends at the Hanalei River, visitors should park their car and stroll out to this 1892 landmark. This longtime gathering place — made famous in the 1958 movie “South Pacific” — was once used to ship local crops overseas. Now it provides a perfect backdrop for photos of Hanalei Bay and the north shore’s sea cliffs. The beach park’s long, idyllic strand of sand invites strolling, picnicking and enjoying life in the slow lane.

Adventure Travel JDS Africa Middle East JDS Destinations