On our ninth day, we ventured over to the other side of the Kauai to visit the historic village of Hanalei and its lovely cove beach. The trip across the island offers from stunning scenes but also a vivid illustration of how different the weather is on different parts of this small island. We are staying on the Southern tip where it has the most sunny days. The Northern parts including Princeville have almost constant rain, though it passes quickly. The change is quite pronounced between the two parts. The North tends to have not only more rain but it is notably more muggy and buggy. We also found the water to be more clear in the South.
This area at one time had a small Imperial Russian presence that was the result of a dubious character named Georg Anton Schäffer.The German physician helped secure an agreement with Kamehameha I to make Kauai a Russian protectorate under Tsar Alexander. There was even a fort called Fort Elizabeth in 1817. However, the islanders and Americans soon chased off Schaffer and the Russians who became unpopular on the island.
To be honest, I was a tad disappointed in Hanalei which was built up by friends as this quaint Hawaiian village. Ironically, the name of the village means “lei making” in Hawaiian, which is appropriate to the abundance of knick knack shops that crowd either side of the street with pizza joints and tee-shirt shops. The two boys and I quickly departed for the beach. However, my wife and daughter liked the village and the beach.
The mountains around the beach are stunning and the beach is beautiful but a bit crowded. However, the government failed to protect the beach and allowed considerable development so that you cannot look anywhere on the beach without seeing beach houses. For the sake of a dozen or so families, the beach lost much of its original beauty, including a giant and rather ugly hotel on the tip of the cove. There is also no apparent restrictions on boats which crowded the cove just off the beach. It is a considerable level of development since Hanalei was the backdrop for the 1958 musical film South Pacific.
However, if you look above the homes there is still a majesty about this place.
These are the only two angles that avoided homes or rental companies on the beach.
Nonetheless, we walked to the far end of the beach (which is largely rock free for body surfing). There we found a little cove that was relatively free of people.
Some of the best scenes are away from the town with the rice fields and gorgeous hills. We pulled over on the way back to the south at a northern surfer beach with huge waves for a late dip.
Despite the divided views of Hanalei, it was another terrific day on this gem of an island.