Exploring Kauai: How to Spend a Day in Hanalei, Hawaii
The view from the Hanalei Colony Resort
On my recent trip to Kauai, I split my time between the Garden Island’s famed North Shore and the more touristy area of Poipu Beach. While Princeville is the most high-end resort area, I preferred the more relaxed, surfer vibe of Hanalei as my base. I stayed at the old school but recently redone Hanalei Colony Resort in Haena. It isn’t fancy, but it is as close to the beach as you can get with a reasonable price tag.
Horses and cows along the Napali Coast
Hanalei Colony Resort is located right near the edge of Haena Beach State Park. The Na Pali Art Gallery and Coffee House opens at 7:30 in case you need more of the local Kauai Coffee the resort provides in your condo unit.
Evening stroll along Haena Beach
The Mediterranean Gourmet is open for lunch and dinner and serves up surprisingly tasty food from it’s Lebanese chef. I very much enjoyed happy hour at the bar, where the cocktails were delicious and the bartender was friendly. The cocktail of the day options were inspired tropical twists on classics (think mandarin mojitos).
Left: Tiki Torches light up the Hanalei Colony Resort at night Right: Margarita at the Mediterranean Gourmet
If you want a more refined evening out, head to the St. Regis Princeville. Hanalei Colony Resort provides guests a shuttle service to both Hanalei Town and Princeville. It’s a nice perk, since you’re not likely to find an Uber on this two lane stretch of Kauai’s North Shore.
The Aloha Juice Bar in Hanalei
If you are looking for things to do in Hanalei, I highly recommend starting your day with walk on the beach. I took a stroll along Haena Beach after sunrise every morning. Then I headed to Hanalei Coffee Roasters or the Aloha Juice Bar, one of the local juice stands, located in the Ching Young Village Shopping Center.
Still life with Pineapple at the Aloha Juice Bar
I was a big fan of The Aloha Juice Bar’s Turmeric Lemonade. They also had a full menu of custom smoothies and acai bowls, the latter being the breakfast of choice for surfer types. Breakfast traditionalists (and those who think no wifi a plus) head to the Hanalei Coffee Roasters for the macadamia nut and banana Kauai Waffles.
Bananas ready for action at the Aloha Juice Stand
Aloha Payphone goodness
I never found out why– perhaps it’s the sometimes spotty 4G service– but there are quite a few phone booths on Kauai, and pretty ones at that. Since I have an iPhone 6s with me all the time that I use for phone calls, I took picture of this aloha style phone booth on Hanalei’s main drag.
Wai`oli Hui`ia Church in Hanalei
Kauai was settled by missionaries. If you drive around the island you’ll notice several churches. Wai`oli Hui`ia Church in Hanalei was one of the most picturesque, and it’s located right in the heart of Hanalei town.
The colorful scenery around Hanalei Center
What to do if it rains in Hanalei? Head to the Hanalei Center, where you can browse cute surf and furniture shops and hang out at a cafe or restaurant. The edgier Ching Young Village Shopping center is across the street and worth a browse, especially if you’re in the market for a tribal tattoo or second hand vinyl records.
Hanalei has a laid back surfer vibe
The surf in Hanalei Bay was rough during my time on the island in February. But if you’re looking for surf rentals, Hanalei Town has a few surf shops ready to rent you a longboard.
Hanalei Wave Riders has surfboards at the ready
Hanalei Taro & Juice Company
For lunch, head to the Hanalei Taro & Juice Company food truck. This food truck served me the best meal I had on Kauai, Kalua pork tacos and a ginger lemonade– and it cost less than $10. Yum!
The Hanalei Pier
Head to the Hanalei Pier to check out a gorgeous view of the area. It was stunning even when the weather was moody, and had the calmest waters during my time in the area.
Tahiti Nui was my favorite local spot in Hanalei
Of all the local spots in Hanalei, Tahiti Nui was my favorite find. It’s the oldest bar on the island of Kauai and has been serving up Mai Tais and Hawaiian music for over 50 years. The Kalua Pork was very tasty. It’s authentically laid-back and kitschy.
Mai Tai at Tahiti Nui
The Mai Tais are strong and the atmosphere is so charming that Tahiti Nui was used as a filming location in the 2011 film The Descendants. It’s my pick for the best place in Hanalei to end your day, especially if you’re fond of tiki torches and rattan.
Tahiti Nui has been used as a filming location
Rumor has it Tahiti Nui’s pizza joint, Tiki Man Pizza, is some of the best on the North Shore of Kauai. Da Hawaiian Pizza #1, featuring the classic ham & pineapple combo, will set you back $23.50.
Hanalei Beach Pier
Hanalei, HI 96714, USA
Aloha Juice Bar
5-5190 Kuhio Hwy Suite C3 Hanalei, Hi. 96714
Located on the road into Hanalei (5-5134 Kuhio Hwy, Hanalei 96714)
5-5070A Kuhio Hwy, Hanalei, HI 96714
Hanalei Colony Resort (rates from $299)
Haena Beach Park Tunnels, Kuhio Hwy, Hanalei, HI 96714
5-5070-A Kuhio Highway Hanalei, Kauai 96714