Hanalei Colony Resort
Hanalei, Hawaii, USA
For most people, Hawaii conjures up images of swaying palms, lava-spewing volcanoes, and dusky, nubile hula girls. The less romantically-inclined perhaps envision endless stretches of high-rise hotels and hordes of lobster-red tourists clad in aloha prints louder than a Spring Breaker on his fifth Mai-tai. The sad reality is that most visitors unfortunately end up experiencing the latter, while crashing in the frigid-aired “comfort” of a soulless hotel room on some man-made strip of sand.
If you’re looking for something a little less manufactured and a little more old school, ditch the package tour and head for Kauai’s incomparably beautiful, peaceful north shore and Hanalei Colony Resort. Don’t let the word resort scare you: the five-acre property contains just 48 two-bedroom oceanfront condo units, some with two bathrooms, and all with fully equipped kitchens and private lanais. But this ain’t no Hedonism II/spring break/plastic coconut bra-clad hula dancer type of place. What Hanalei Colony offers instead is a relaxed, phone- and TV-free getaway for guests looking to experience a little more of the islands than getting melanoma around the pool.
As rooms go, mine was spotless, spacious, and comfortable, with a casual island motif, huge glass picture windows and a lanai just steps from the water. Waking up on my king size bed meant raising my head three inches off the pillow to witness the sun rising over the pounding surf of Wainiha Bay, then indulging in an early morning tide pooling session in front of my room.
When I needed a good, trashy beach read for Hanalei’s numerous, largely unpopulated (and often unswimmable, due to treacherous currents, so be forewarned) beaches, I went to the resort’s office to borrow from their library of donated books. When I needed coffee to fire myself up to hike a portion of the famously treacherous but breathtaking Kalalau Trail, I walked the 50 feet from my room to Napali Coffee House & Art Gallery. There’s even free internet access, yoga classes, Tunnels restaurant and bar and Hanalei Day Spa (both separately owned but on the property), beachside massage, a pool, resident dogs and cats, a damned authentic weekly luau put on by Hanalei’s Tahiti Nui restaurant, and free happy hour drink vouchers redeemable at Tunnels.
But the real charm of Hanalei Colony is it’s sweet, unpretentious style, cheerful, helpful staff, and it’s perfect location. The property itself is actually located in Ha’ena, a ten-minute drive north of Hanalei town, past a series of one-lane bridges spanning the Wainiha River. A few more minutes down the road takes you to the official start of the verdant Na Pali coastline and the Kalalau trailhead, as well as the ruins of the Ka ulu a Paoa heiau, an ancient temple dedicated to the hula. Enveloping it all are grassy pastures of grazing livestock and jungle thick with flowers, ferns, and hala trees.
Hanalei town itself is an adorable hamlet with shops and restaurants and outdoor outfitters offering kayaking excursions and snorkeling trips, but you can easily while away a week in the area just exploring the beaches and jungle. And don’t miss the Hanalei farmers market, every Tuesday from 2 to 4pm, featuring all manner of tropical produce from the area’s organic farms.
Hanalei Colony Resort
P.O. Box 206
Hanalei, HI 96714-9985
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