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Getting to Hā‘ena


Flying In

Flying in towards Līhu‘e, Kaua‘i.


Road map

Today most people travelling from outside the Hawaiian Islands would arrive by plane at Līhu‘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 Kīlauea, 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 Hā‘ena.


Just past the entrance to Princeville one gets the marvellous view of Hanalei Valley.

Hanalei Bridge

After one descends the hill, this one-lane bridge marks the beginning of Hanalei.


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


Double Bridge

The double one-lane bridge at the Wainiha River, with the sign explaining the protocol for crossing.


Cars on either side must stop and wait their turn to get across. There are several more of these.



You know you are approaching Hā‘ena when the distinctive outline of Makana mountain rises over the rooftops and the trees. to the right, a new sign indicates the boundary of Hā‘ena ahupua‘a.

Fording Manoa Stream

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

This automobile journey, taking perhaps one and a half hours from Līhu‘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 by voyaging canoe, it must have seemed very special indeed. Arrive with them and learn of Hā‘ena as a home land.



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