Growing up on the East coast we had never been to Hawaii until two years ago when we rented a house in Hanalei Bay on Kauai with a group of friends.  We returned last week and were even more astounded than the first time by how beautiful it is there.  And how much there is to do.

Hanalei is so user friendly too—we walked or rode our bikes pretty much everywhere—to the beach, to get morning coffee at Java Kai, breakfast burritos at Tropical Taco, and supplies at the natural grocery store Papaya’s.  We also drank far too much at Tahiti Nui, the local watering hole which often has live music.  We redeemed ourselves after one particularly wild night by surfing, hiking and paddle boarding.  Hanalei is a perfect place for all athletic levels– the smaller waves along the beach and sandy bottom make surfing unintimidating and accessible and the river that travels inland to the ocean is calm and glassy for beginner paddle boarders and a different perspective on the absurd topography and wildlife.  Rainbows are the norm around here as well.

There are a couple fun restaurants in town to explore and we loved having chef Dani Felix come to the house a few nights to prepare gourmet dinners made from all organic and local ingredients.  A truly decadent treat!  Our Dani favorites are the taro (a local purple potato) fritters, ahi served in carved out cucumber cups, local white fish with pineapple and basil sauce and the banana cream pie.

an assortment of Dani’s appetizers

Bar Acuda in town is fun for cocktails and dinner– request the porch.  And the Hanalei Dolphin has been there for ages and serves a mean Mai Tai.

One spot to skip– we had visions of grandeur regarding the St. Regis in Princeville (ten minutes from Hanalei) perched on a clifftop overlooking the bay.  We were rather disappointed by the unflattering floodlights and uncomfortable seating outside.  We moved inside to the mahagony heavy, “library” inspired bar.  It just did not feel like Hawaii to us.

Hanalei town



Tropical Taco


The best breakfast burritos in town.  Our favorite was just the straight up scrambled eggs, cheese and bacon.

Java Kai

55183-C Kuhio Hwy
Hanalei, HI 96714

The best coffee in town– go for the Kona.  Divine cinnamon buns and muffins as well.

Bar Acuda

5-5161 Kuhio Highway
Hanalei, HI 96714
(808) 826-7081

Sexy vibe and friendly staff serving gourmet style tapas.  Sit on the porch.

Hanalei Dolphin

5-5016 Kuhio Hwy
Hanalei, HI 96714
(808) 826-6113

Old school Hawaii.  Fantastic Mai Tais and food that is good, but not terribly original.

Dani Felix- private chef


Dani is amazing, amazing, amazing.  She shops the local markets daily to bring the freshest fish, fruits and vegetables to your table.  Dani comes over with everything she needs, prepares apps and dinner in your kitchen, serves, cleans up– the whole nine yards.  And she’s cool!

Papaya’s Natural Food & Cafe

5-5161 Kuhio Highway
Hanalei, HI 96714
(808) 826-0089

The tuna sandwiches and smoothie made with bananas and peanut butter are delicious!!  We would also come and stock up on coconut water for the beach here– it is the most hydrating beverage in the world, period.


Hanalei Surf Company

5-5161 Kuhio Highway,
Hanalei, HI

Kayak Kauai

5-5070 Kuhio Highway
Hanalei, HI 96714
(808) 826-9844


Tahiti Nui

5-5134 Kuhio Hwy
Hanalei, HI 96714
(808) 826-6277

us and some of the group on the Hanalei Pier