Hanalei Bay#8 in Best Things To Do in Kauai
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Hanalei Bay is located about 4 miles southwest of Princeville, one of the island's premier resort areas. Hanalei Bay is composed of three different beaches: Waioli Beach Park, Hanalei Beach Park and Black Pot Beach, the latter of which is sandwiched between the historic Hanalei Pier and the mouth of the Hanalei River. Travelers say they didn't notice much of a difference between the three beaches, noting that unless there are signs posting otherwise, it's safe to swim. Lifeguards can be found at multiple points along the beach and bathroom facilities are also on-site. And just a few blocks south on Kuhio Highway, travelers will find many more amenities, including dining options, shopping, as well as various water sport rentals, including kayaks and catamarans. If you're looking to surf in Kauai, know that this spot is loved by locals.
It's important to note that while Hanalei is safe for swimming, conditions vary by season. Travelers who visited during winter said that the waves were a lot rougher, while those who came in the summer said the waters were calm. Always pay attention to signs posted by lifeguards and never swim at night. There are no set hours for Hanalei Bay and it is free to visit, even if you're not a guest at one of the bay's hotels. Because the beach is so big, visitors say the beach doesn't get too crowded, but warned that there isn't a whole lot of parking in the area, so be sure to get there early to score a spot. Hanalei Bay is also a featured stop on many of the best Kauai boat tours. And even if you're not up for swimming, surfing or boating, travelers say the beach's unparalleled beauty – especially considering its sweeping views of the nearby mountains – are more than worth the journey. For more information on Hanalei Bay, visit the Hawaii tourism website.
More Best Things To Do in Kauai
#1 Waimea Canyon and Koke'e State Park
Waimea Canyon, aptly nicknamed the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific," should be at the top of every traveler's itinerary. This 14-mile-long, mile-wide and approximately 3,600-feet deep gorge is awash with spectacular scenery difficult to find elsewhere on the Hawaiian islands. Here, you'll find craggy red cliffsides and crested buttes blanketed in lush, evergreen vegetation as far as the eye can see, with waterfalls and rivers dotted in between. Most travelers who visit Waimea Canyon choose to take in the sight by car, as there are multiple lookout points situated along Koke'e Road, including the popular Waimea Canyon and Puu Hinahina lookout points. If you're hoping to explore outside your car, there are trails in the canyon that range from easy to difficult. Many trailheads can be found off of Koke'e Road, with some, including the Cliff Trail Lookout and the Waipo'o Falls Trail, accessible from the Pu'u Hinahina lookout point. Helicopter tours are another great way to view the canyon from all angles.
While at Waimea Canyon, be sure to pop over to the equally stunning Koke'e State Park. What makes Koke'e Park so interesting is that despite being right next to Waimea Canyon, the park has a completely different makeup. Koke'e Park occupies thousands of acres of rainforest, and as such produces a different microclimate (the farther you drive up Koke'e, the colder it gets). Like Waimea, travelers commonly explore the park via car, as the main road through Koke'e cuts through the park. While here, be sure to visit the Kalalau Lookout and the Pu'u O Kila Lookout for stunning views of the Napali Cliffs. If you want to get even closer, consider taking the Awa'awapuhi Trail, which takes hikers to the edge of some of Napali's famous cliffs. Another trail worth trekking is the Alakai Swamp Trail, which spends more time going through the park's rainforest. Wherever you decide to hike, whether it's in Waimea Canyon or Koke'e, bring proper hiking shoes to avoid falling from the slippery mud often found on Kauai trails.
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