Hanalei Bay and Pier was, by far, my personal favorite location on Kauai, Hawaii, and a must-see for anyone visiting the island. Located on the northern side, the bay is surrounded by lush, beautiful, towering mountains, making it the perfect spot to relax and take a break, especially at sunset. Depending on where you stay, it can be a bit of a drive (upwards of 2 hours one way); however, if you stay in Princeville as we did, it’s only about 15 minutes away. We came to Hanalei Bay and Pier several times during our stay, as it was a major favorite among everyone in the group.
Consisting of nearly 2 miles of beach surrounded by mountains, the bay is a favorite spot for surfers to catch waves during winter, when the waves are larger and more frequent. We enjoyed sitting on the pier and watching the stand-up surfers and body surfers catch wave after wave, impressed with their skills and abilities. In the summer, when the wind and surf is much calmer, the bay is a favorite spot for swimming, sailboats, and stand-up paddle boarding.
There’s also the small town of Hanalei, located right off Hanalei Bay, where I highly recommend spending a couple of hours. It was another one of our favorite spots on the island, due to being less congested (comparatively) and having more of a “small island vibe” than the towns of Kapaʻa or Lihue. There are several restaurants, as well as numerous souvenir shops and other stores. We ate at Tahiti Nui, located immediately off Kuhio Highway, the main road through Hanalei. It was good, albeit, we all mutually agreed it was not a favorite restaurant on the trip.
Lastly, Hanalei Bay and Pier is so beautiful that Hollywood regularly includes it in movies. Movies shot in or around Hanalei Bay include Dragonfly starring Kevin Costner, The Descendants with George Clooney, Uncommon Valor starring Gene Hackman and Patrick Swayze, and Paradise Hawaiian Style starring Elvis Presley, among other films. There is also the 2018 Japanese film literally titled Hanalei Bay.
Overall, if you’re ever visiting the gorgeous island of Kauai, please take an afternoon to visit the equally gorgeous Hanalei Bay and hang out on the beach or pier. In my opinion, the best time to visit is at sunset, when the sun dips behind the mountains, offering a beautiful backdrop glow with cooler temps. It’s one of the most peaceful and relaxing spots on the island, and truthfully, no trip to Kauai is complete without a visit to Hanalei Bay and Pier!