To get a glimpse of Hanalei before entering the little town, travel past Princeville and you’ll notice that the mile markers on Highway 56 revert back to 0. Stop at the gas station nearby (the last one on the north shore) and across the street you’ll find Hanalei Lookout. The views from this spot are beautiful with Hanalei Valley stretched out before you looking like a green patchwork quilt, lush and geometrical. The neat sections of wetland contain the semi-submerged taro fields that have been worked by generations of Hawaiian farmers.
Running down the center of the fields is the Hanalei River (one of 14 American heritage rivers) with its origins in the rainfall from Mt. Waialeale, in the approximate center of the island. Kayakers and stand-up paddlers often navigate the peaceful river. The quaint one-lane Hanalei Bridge is the veritable doorway to the town. You’ll find an assortment of boutiques, restaurants and art galleries.
Hanalei Bay is rimmed by nearly two miles of white sandy beach. While swimming conditions in the bay can be hazardous, the off-shore area is popular with surfers. Hanalei Pier, made famous in the movie “South Pacific,” stretches out into the bay. Take a twilight stroll and bask in the colors of a magical sunset.