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Getting to Ha‘ena



Arriving at the airport in Lihu'e, Kaua'i.


Road map

Today most people travelling from outside the Hawaiian Islands would arrive by plane at Lihu‘e Airport on the East side of Kaua‘i. One then drives North on Highway 56, past the royal coconut groves at the town of Wailua, the former seat of power on the island, and through the town of Kapa'a. From there, the urban life of Kaua‘i is largely left behind, as the road continues counter-clockwise around the island through Anahola, then around the spur of the mountains to Kilauea, famous for its lighthouse out on a rocky point.



At a higher and drier spot, the recent development of Princeville is encountered. Carved out of former ranch land, Princeville is a collection of condominiums, vacation rentals, shops, and a resort hotel perched above Hanalei Bay. This recently created community is populated largely by outsiders to the area who bring greater wealth to Kaua‘i's North Shore. Consequently, Princeville hosts a small and mostly private airport, modern medical facilities, and the fire station whose service area reaches all the way to Ha‘ena.



Hanalei Valley

At Princeville a view of the well-watered Hanalei Valley opens up, before the road zig-zags down to the valley floor.


The road remains good through the small, quiet town of Hanalei. But after that, there are nine miles of narrow twists and turns along the sea before reaching Ha‘ena. In this lush, wet coast there are many small rivers, and getting to Ha‘ena requires crossing no less than five one-lane bridges




One of the many one-lane bridges
between Hanalei and Ha‘ena.


Cars on either side must stop and
wait their turn to get across.


You know you are approaching Ha‘ena when this distinctive outline rises over the rooftops and the trees. Makana mountain is the conical shape to the right, and the ridge rises to the prong of Mauna-pulu-o in the upper left.

Approaching Makana


Fording Manoa Stream


Finally one reaches the outskirts of the ahupua‘a. The journey to the very heart of Ha‘ena, however, requires fording the shallow Manoa stream where it flows across the road near what is now Ha‘ena Beach Park.


This automobile journey, taking perhaps one and a half hours from Lihu‘e, still creates a strong sense of having left behind modern society and entered a place where the influence and power of the physical environment are very pronounced. But for the first peoples to come here, it must have seemed very special indeed. Now that you are familiar with Ha‘ena, you are ready for your arrival.



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