Hanalei Bay is on the northern shore of Kauai Island. It is the second most popular beach in Hawaii, with Waikiki being number one. One reason for its popularity is its size and location. Hanalei Bay is over two miles long, is in the shape of a crescent moon, and has rugged mountains as its backdrop. Unlike Waikiki, Hanalei Bay lacks tall hotels and, instead, is dotted with homes and vacation rentals, making this beach less touristy. It is also very popular with the locals, making for a crowded beach on the weekends.
Because Hanalei Bay is so big, we will explore four popular areas, each with its unique features. They are:
- Hanalei Pier
- Pine Trees
- The Point
Constructed in 1892, Hanalei Pier is on the northeast side of the bay. For many years, ships docked to load and off-load cargo. Although those days are long gone, the pier underwent a complete renovation in 2012 and today attracts anglers and vacationers alike. Restrooms, showers, and picnic tables are available, as is the Black Pot Beach Park, a popular campground. Although there isn’t a lifeguard at Hanalei Pier, the calm waters are ideal for young swimmers and children. The long pier is perfect for fishing and watching the sunset over the bay. In the summer, sailing ships dot the bay as the last stop before heading to their final port. Hanalei Pier is popular with locals, so we advise visiting during the week and not the weekends.
Directly south of Hanalei Bay and almost at the base of the crescent-shaped beach is Pine Trees. Named for the ironwood pines that grow nearby, this beach has a lifeguard, a parking lot, restrooms, and picnic tables. If you’ve wanted to try surfing, this is the spot because the waves push you back to shore. Be sure to talk to the lifeguard about the currents and conditions before surfing. Winter is prime surf season, and Pine Trees draws avid surfers from all over the world. Pine Trees is excellent for swimming, bodyboarding, and beach walks.
Situated on the northwest side of Hanalei Bay is Waikoko Beach. If you’re looking for a secluded beach, Waikoko is for you, but only if you’re in shape and have a sense of adventure. You will have to park on the street and climb down a steep embankment to reach the beach. The water is often rough, so swimming isn’t advised while sunbathing, and beach fishing is ideal. With the shade from the nearby trees, it’s the perfect spot for a picnic or a nap. There’s a reef offshore that will appeal to seasoned surfers but be aware of the water conditions since there isn’t a lifeguard on duty. Lastly, there aren’t restroom facilities or picnic tables, so plan accordingly.
Last but not least is The Point. Although this isn’t a beach but a reef where large waves break, we wanted to include it for advanced surfers. If you’re in shape enough to paddle out to the breaks, are an experienced surfer who knows surfing etiquette, then there’s a wave waiting for you at The Point. Before diving in, ask the locals about the conditions and any other tips they may have to make your day safe and fun.
Pine Trees is home to three-time World Champion surfers Andy and Bruce Irons. Every April, they sponsor a surfing championship for children.