With a crescent-shaped bay and miles of sandy beach surrounded by towering, verdant mountains, Hanalei is an iconic Kaua‘i town, steeped in history and natural beauty. Some of its ancient lo‘i are still in cultivation, making it Hawai‘i’s taro-growing capital. Come winter, the legendary ocean swells roll in, filling the town with salt spray and surfers.
Sip a mai tai on the rambling front porch of Tahiti Nui, or elbow in among the locals at the bar, while listening to Island-style music nightly or to slack-key guitar starting at 4:30 p.m. on Fridays. 5-5134 Kuhio Highway. 808-826-6277; thenui.com.
Enjoy panoramic views of Hanalei valley and bay while clambering up the steep, 2.3-mile ‘Okolehao Trail, which starts near the Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge. 4666 ‘Ohiki Road. 808-274-3433; fws.gov/refuge/hanalei; tinyurl.com/mdupsb9.
Experience Christian missionary life circa 1837 by touring Waioli Mission House, 9 a.m.–3 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Kuhio Highway at Old School House Road. 808-245-3202; grovefarm.org/waiolimissionhouse.
Though small, On the Road to Hanalei stocks distinctive jewelry, clothing, textiles, and antiques from the Islands and around the world. 5-5190 Kuhio Highway. 808-826-7360.
Across the road, Hanalei Center houses shops in a cluster of restored buildings. Located behind a former schoolhouse, one of the best of those shops is Havaiki Oceanic and Tribal Art, a gallery of carvings, jewelry, and sculptures, much of it collected during the owners’ five-year sailing voyage around the South Pacific. 5-5161 Kuhio Highway. 808-826-7606; havaikiart.com.
Yellowfish Trading Co. is another treasure hunter’s dream of Hawaiiana dating from the 1920s to the present. 5-5161 Kuhio Highway. 808-826-1227.
Grab some Tahitian poke and fresh ‘ahi rolls from The Hanalei Dolphin Restaurant, Fish Market and Sushi Lounge and head over to the beach for a super sunset snack. 5-5016 Kuhio Highway. 808-826-6113; hanaleidolphin.com.
Tasty tapas, locally sourced ingredients, outdoor tables, and a gorgeous bar make Bar Acuda the town’s best choice for dinner. 5-5161 Kuhio Highway. 808-826-7081; restaurantbaracuda.com.
To sample taro, pick up lunch at the family farm–owned Hanalei Taro and Juice Co., where the root vegetable is worked into smoothies, veggie burgers, hummus, and mochi cake, or served as fresh purple poi alongside laulau and kalua pig. 5-5070A Kuhio Highway. 808-651-3399; hanaleitaro.com.