Published: April, 2018
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Hanalei, Kauai, Hawaii

Prepare to be on Island Time.
— Courtney Leary
  • More about your oliver guide:
  • Trip type: Family, Beach
  • Activity level: moderate
  • Ideal length of trip: One to three weeks...

to & from

  • Fly direct to Kauai if possible
  • Rent a car
  • Rent beach cruisers to get around Hanalei-- the kind you will not worry about!

Where to Stay

We prefer to rent a house close to or on Weke Road in Hanalei . This is walking distance to the town and to the beach, if not on the beach. There are not any great hotels in Hanalei and there are only a couple good restaurants so it is nice to have a kitchen to bbq fresh fish.

Where to Eat and Drink

  • Restaurant Bar Acuda in the small town of Hanalei for dinner. Wonderful small plates restaurant, great service and upscale atmosphere.
  • The Dolphin Restaurant, Sushi Lounge and Fish Market. We frequent the fish market for fresh amazing fish you can throw on the grill. Also sold in the fish market are fresh sushi rolls and seaweed salad. The restaurant is good and worth a visit. If there is a wait, you can eat at the picnic-like tables on the lawn and order from the sushi menu, kids menu.
  • Frederico's Mexican Restaurant in the center of town is a great place to grab a taco or two (we like lunch) and watch the world of Hanalei go by.
  • JoJo's Shaved Ice. Very much a hole in the wall but according to my kids, the best shaved ice in Hawaii. They make their own syrups and offer some truly incredible combinations involving Macadamia Nut ice cream, shaved ice and coffee.

What to Do

  • Learn to surf! Hanalei Bay has the perfect rollers for beginner surfers. Take some lessons and rent a board for the week. If you are already a pro, head to Tunnels Beach, some of the best surfing in the world.
  • Boogie board... when you need a break from surfing.
  • Paddle board or kayak on Hanalei River. Kayak Hanalei can set you up.
  • Hike! The Na Pali Coast is stunningly beautiful. One of the most popular (and our favorite) hikes is to Hanakapi`ai -- 8 miles (roundtrip) to a waterfall or 4 miles (roundtrip) to Hanakapi`ai Beach. Bring lots of water and snacks. RESERVATIONS REQUIRED! Make your reservations at Go Ha'Ena.
  • Walk or run barefoot on the beach... it is over a mile in length and the warm water chasing your toes is a amazing.
  • Relax.... unwind. Hanalei is a very mellow town. Be prepared to do a lot of nothing.

inside scoop

  • WEATHER! Hanalei is VERY rainy... be prepared with light raincoats, extra clothes and umbrellas and do not expect endless sunny days. Usually there are showers for part of the day and sun for part of the day. The temperature is generally very warm and showers can be sat out under and umbrella at the beach.
  • Call Mike at Kauai Experience to set you up with everything from home rentals to surf lessons to private chefs. He is very connected in Hanalei and can make all of your dreams come true!
  • Princeville and Hanalei are NOT the same place-- Princeville is very much a resort area with multiple condo and hotel options. Hanalei is a surf town. They are about 10 minutes apart.
  • Stop at Foodland in Princeville on your way into Hanalei and stock up. Hanalei has a very small grocery store and a natural food market but offerings are limited.
  • Hanalei is very casual. You do not need to shop for this trip--- you will feel out of place in anything too white, too delicate or too fancy and you risk ruining anything good with the rain, mud and sand.

skip it

  • Nanea Restaurant at the Westin in Princeville.

What to Pack

Things get dirty in Kauai!! Be warned– you will get wet and muddy.

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