Fresh cup of coffee in hand, I leave my resort in Poipu to drive to Hanalei. Many clients ask whether or not it is worth the time to drive to Hanalei, and the answer is definitely not to be missed if at all possible when you visit the island of Kaua’i, after all this is the Island of Discovery or also referred to as ” The Garden Isle” so you should take every opportunity to see where these nicknames came from. As you cross over the one lane Hanalei bridge, that is your que to slow down, take a deep breath and enjoy yourself. The scene of endless acres of Taro Fields might look a little familiar some scenes for Lilo & Stitch were filmed here. In addition some of the Taro Farmers are offering tours of the fertile fields that have produced Taro for over a thousand years. A story book setting below the lush green mountains, the kalo lo’i (flooded fields of taro) produce the majority of the states taro used to make poi (pounded taro root) a staple in the Hawaiian diet. I love taking tours that benefit small 501(c)3 Nonprofits such as Ho’opulapula Haraguchi Rice Mill.
As you travel along Kuhio Highway you will come to this historic Wai’oli Hui’ia Church – services have been held here since 1834, a beautiful Hanalei landmark -” i ka poli o Hanalei”(in the heart of Hanalei). In addition to the church you can also tour the Wai’oli Mission House ,restored in 1921, the mission house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Take time for a guided tour of this early missionary home of Abner and Lucy Wilcox, with historical furnishings and learn about rural life on Kaua’i as it would have been 160 or so years ago. Kahu(Pastor) Alpha Goto invites visitors to the sanctuary of the church on Sunday at 10am for service . He invites you to come as you are whether in a tie or aloha wear -The Lord welcomes all who seek him. Hymns are sang from a Na Himeni or Hawaiian Hymnal. Some key Hawaiian words a visitor might expect to hear on Sunday might be Aloha Kakahiaka (Good Morning) , E pule ka Kou (Let us Pray) , Ka Haku(The Lord) it is easy to follow along in the service as English words are printed as well , even the Keiki (children) will be blessed with Ka Manawa Na Keiki(Time with Children). The church is also a popular place for intimate weddings and vow renewals if you contact church office.
As pretty as the other sites are along the way to Hanalei, probably the most popular with first time and repeat visitors as well has to be the Hanalei Pier. A landmark since 1892( the original wooden structure was replaced by the current concrete structure in 1922), but made famous in the 1958 move “South Pacific”, and the beach and area surrounding the Pier has been the backdrop for many movies since. I suggest for visitors to go into the sleepy town of Hanalei filled with colorful shops, coffee shops, art galleries and several restaurants ( get some sandwiches to go and have a picnic at the end of the pier) panoramic views of the of Hanalei Bay surround you. As you gaze towards Lumaha’i Beach – imagine what it would have been like to be Mitzi Gaynor as she sang “washed that man right out of my hair” in Hollywood’s musical South Pacific, or if you would rather grab your towel and have your picnic on the beach on Hanalei Bay – Dr. Beach named it America’s Best Beach in 2009 – either way a memorable experience. As if this was not reason enough to visit Hanalei Bay, watching the sunset here is another not to be missed experience if at all possible
Contact: Linda Dancer Kaua’i Master Specialist with Kaua’i Visitors Bureau to plan your visit.
Don’t forget the best way to enjoy your visit to the islands is to get out and explore !