Although this hike is only 1.80 miles roundtrip, it is rich with history. The Old Club Med Trail, also known as the Hanalei Plantation Trail, is perched on a ridge overlooking the mouth of the Hanalei River. Scenes from the 1957 movie South Pacific were filmed near Hanalei Plantation Trail.
Hanalei Plantation got its start back in the 1860s when sugar was king. Years passed, sugar no longer ruled, and the plantation faded into obscurity. In the 1960s, investors built a hotel that, in the 1970s, became a Club Med. Today, remnants of the swanky hotel are hidden in jungle overgrowth, making it look more like a set from the TV show Lost.
During the 80s, developers poured foundation and stairs for a new resort, but funds ran out, and construction ended. Today, visitors to Hanalei Plantation Trail traverse these stairs on their hike.
The out-and-back hike is considered easy due to its short distance, only 200 feet of elevation gain, and the wide path and road. This trail is ideal for families, joggers, and nature lovers.
There isn’t a parking lot so find a spot on the side of Hanalei Plantation Road. Locals advise parking near the water tank and to be mindful not to park on private property.
Once parked, you’ll find the trailhead beside a fresh food stand. Go past the gate on the right and follow the road downhill about 100 feet to another closed gate. On the left side is an entryway, and you’re on your way!
As with many Hawaiian trails, this hike is two trails in one. Many visitors will be satisfied with the first option which ends at a grassy overlook of Hanalei Harbor. From here, you’ll spot the Hanalei Pier and the silhouettes of the distant mountains.
Those wanting more adventure will take the offshoot path leading to Puu Poa Beach. The trail cuts through dense growth before emerging at Puu Poa Beach. But don’t picture tan sand; this beach consists of rock. Surfers use this trail as a shortcut to paddle over to Hanalei Beach and avoid traffic on the opposite shore.
Visitors and locals rave about how good the snorkeling is at Puu Poa Beach, so pack your fins and mask! Some hikers report there’s a swing there and others quip the beach may be the best place to watch a Hawaiian sunset.
Keep this in mind if you’re planning on hiking to the beach. One, it’s small and is shared with Princeville Resort and Hanalei Bay Resort. Both resorts are a good walk from this location, but you may encounter more tourists during your trek. Two, go during low tide which exposes more sand, allowing you space to sit and have a picnic lunch. During high tide, the water covers the sandy beach up to the tree line restricting the bay’s visibility.
-The trail traverses through private property, but signs state that hikers are allowed through the area. The owners only request not to climb on any of the ruins.
-Aside from the food stand that sells smoothies and bowls, there aren’t any restaurants or restroom facilities, so pack accordingly. You can also stop at the farm stand and support a local business while satisfying your hunger and thirst.