Crescent-shaped Hanalei Bay is one of nature’s finest creations in the Hawaiian Islands. At times, the bay is a serene sheet of glassy water, highlighted by a stunning range of tropical mountains that are often laced with 1,000-foot waterfalls in the rainy season. At other times, primarily in the winter months, surf surges into the bay, attracting the island’s best surfers, who carve up the waves with expert grace. Despite its formidable attractions, rural Hanalei has maintained its size and country charm by virtue of its historic one-lane bridges, the ultimate vanguard against intrusive development. From the famous Hanalei Lookout, on the edge of Princeville, the first bridge appears, spanning the gentle Hanalei Stream. The waterway flows from the distant mountains, meandering past a patchwork of watery taro fields, eventually flowing into the sea. A few cars are usually lined up on one or the other side of the bridge, waiting their turn to enter or leave Hanalei and its neighboring villages. Occasionally, during the heaviest downpours, many of the bridges are impassable, and traffic comes to a halt. These minor inconveniences are, in fact, celebrated by those who live here. There are fewer than 500 residents, who call heavenly Hanalei their personal paradise, and who have done everything in their power to keep it just the way it is for themselves and those who come to see its beauty. A steady stream of visitors is welcomed to the town, with a mere two blocks of businesses that cater to diners, surfers, tourists and local residents. There is an eclectic mix of ice cream shops, fine restaurants, classy boutiques and funky surf shops. Hanalei is also a favorite locale to book activities, such as kayak tours, horseback riding and adventurous cruises into the remote, cliff-lined Na Pali Coast.
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