Dock Dynasty offers kayak rentals on the riverbanks
of the Hanalei River.
and lush, the landscape unfurls as you round that final
bend and Hanalei Bay comes into view. Craggy volcanic
ridges descend to the glistening sea, like a dragon coming
to rest, and we are spellbound.
southern shore brims with wave-kissed beaches and resorts.
But the north shore feels like an enchanted island of its
own, the Bali Hai of "South Pacific." The small
laidback town of Hanalei is lined with eateries, boutiques
and galleries. Taro fields are making a comeback on the
town’s outskirts. And the sheltered bay weaves a spell
of sheer magic.
could easily spend your days lolling in a hammock or
splashing in the gentle waves in the summer — or surfing
the giant winter waves at the outer reefs. But we can’t
resist the Dock Dynasty sign, nor the scarlet kayaks
poised on the Hanalei River bank in such alluring, aquatic
style. Within minutes, we’re underway on the water.
we pass the Kuhio Highway bridge, the automotive rumbles
and acrid tang of exhaust dissipate. The air stills, and
the river’s passage turns to a verdant lushness that
runs the green gamut, from the lush pear and shamrock
shades of the vegetation to the crocodile hues of the
current. As trees and thickets crowd the banks, the river
narrows. By the time we decide to head back, about two
miles from the dock, it takes a three-point kayak turn to
on land — and fortified by a Hanalei Gourmet burger from
the cute cafe on the main drag — we add our own
automotive rumble to the bridge as we head for Kilauea,
just a few miles east. The renovated 52-foot tall
lighthouse that stands proudly on Kilauea Point, offering
spectacular views and twice-weekly lighthouse tours, was
built in 1913. The promontory here is a National Wildlife
Refuge, so those views are likely to include nene,
red-footed boobies, great frigatebirds and wedge-tailed
shearwaters, as well as crashing waves and, if you’re
mile or so away, the Historic Kong Lung Market Center
bears testimony to Kilauea’s sugar plantation past, when
Lung Wah Chee’s mercantile supplied plantation workers
with everything they needed, from sundries to stamps. The
general store, which dates back to 1902, included a post
office, a barber shop, a butcher and a diner, as well as a
the restored market is on the National Register of
Historic Places, and you can read about those long-gone
days on the plaques and displays here, as well as browse
the boutiques. Take a peek inside Kong Lung Trading, where
origami cranes mix with kimonos, tea pots and gift items.
Don’t miss the Coconut Style boutique’s batik-print
robes and bed linens in brilliant, vibrant hues.
a bite at the Kilauea Bakery and Pau Hana Pizza, where the
pizza ($12 and up) is topped with everything from
house-smoked ono to alder-smoked lilikoi and rosemary
bacon. Or dash across the street to the Kauai Juice Co.,
where the cold-pressed juices range from Starburst to
Rainbow Unicorn, which takes its name — the first half,
anyway — from a colorful mix of beets, carrots,
pineapple, kale and blueberry.
the end of the day, wander back to Hanalei. Perch at the
end of the iconic pier at sunset and watch the bright
yellow outriggers of a Hanalei canoe club traverse the
water, oars dipping in unison. As darkness falls, stroll
over to Bar Acuda for garlicky bruschetta topped with
local tomatoes, grilled flank steak banderillas with black
pepper-pineapple jam and other small plates.
moon is rising, stars dot the sky. It’s enchanting.
You Go: Hanalei
Hanalei: Hanalei has several rental shops. This one offers
kayaks ($35 and up), surfboards ($23) and stand-up
paddleboards ($40), as well as beach equipment, including
rash guards, beach chairs and coolers ($3-$5 per day,
$12-$20 per week). Book your kayak at the Kayak Hanalei
building at 5070A Kuhio Highway, pick up the boat at the
Dock Dynasty stand by the river. Open 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m.;
Acuda: Open daily for dinner, 5:30-9:30 p.m. Reservations
recommended. 5-5161 Kuhio Highway;
Gourmet: The cafe and bar are open daily for lunch and
dinner from 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Order a picnic — packed in
an insulated backpack or cooler — at the deli, which
opens at 8 a.m. 5-5161 Kuhio Highway;
You Go: Kilauea
Point Lighthouse and Wildlife Refuge: The visitor center
is open from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, with
lighthouse tours offered on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Admission to the park is $5 for adults and teens, ages 16
and up; cash only. 3500 Kilauea Road; www.fws.gov/refuge/kilauea
Kong Lung Market Center: Open daily at 2484 Keneke St.
Find details on the Coconut Style boutique at
www.coconutstyle.com, Kong Lung Trading at konglung.com
and Kilauea Bakery and Pau Hana Pizza at
Juice Co.: Open Monday-Saturday at 4270 Kilauea Road,