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A Little About Hanalei

Hanalei is a small, rustic community on the north shore of Kauai. Hanalei is one of the most scenic parts of the Garden Island, effectively isolated from the hustle and bustle of downtown Lihue and Kapaa. Hanalei has a permanent population of about five hundred residents, although considerably more tourists visit the area in any given month. Hanalei covers a total area of less than one square mile, including some standing surface water in Hanalei Bay and the Hanalei River. The town of Hanalei is distinct from Hanalei Valley, which covers about six square miles from the mountains to the ocean. Hanalei Valley is notable for being home to the majority of Hawaii’s taro fields. Taro is a traditional ingredient of many Hawaiian foods, especially the poi which is served at nearly every luau. The town of Hanalei is centered on the picturesque Hanalei Bay and Hanalei Beach, just to the west of Princeville.

The modern history of Hanalei is distinct from many other communities on the Garden Island. Unlike the southern communities of Kauai, Hanalei was heavily influenced by the Russian Empire during the formative years of the 19th century. There are still remnants of a Russian fort, Fort Elizabeth, along the Waimea River just a few minutes away from Hanalei. The scenery of Hanalei Bay has been immortalized in popular culture, providing part of the backdrop for the mythical island of Bali Hai in the musical South Pacific. One interpretation of “Puff the Magic Dragon” suggests that the homeland of the dragon is actually the town of Hanalei. Hanalei Beach is regularly ranked as one of the top beaches in the nation, and was selected as the top beach in the world by “Dr. Beach.” Hanalei is home to Hanalei Elementary School, and there are also a number of local restaurants and shops that cater to locals and tourists. Two other notable landmarks in Hanalei are the Hanalei Bridge and the legendary Hanalei pier.

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