Hanalei is the beginning of Kauai’s far north. After passing lush pastoral Kilauea and the premiere Princeville Resort, you’ll begin your descent into the valley, where a single-lane bridge leads into one of Kauai’s Edens. Unfortunately, this cute old bridge is also the only way in and out of town, so when it rains heavily, you’re stuck.
Hanalei Valley is a collection of lowland marshes that’s great for growing things but not-so-great when it comes to flooding. It just takes a single downpour to oversaturate the land, especially around the rickety old bridge. Most times, the narrow roadways leading to the bridge will flood, in which case, county officials are forced to close the entryway. I’ve heard that Hanalei can flood so badly that people resort to their stand-up paddle boards as a way of getting around town.
If you happen to be stranded in Hanalei, don’t fret. You could be stuck in places worse than this historic gem. Quaint bed and breakfasts can be found throughout the verdant valley, but the best are the ones right along the bay. Our friends stayed at Hale Hoo Maha and said it was a tropical hideaway they’ll never forget. They liked being near both the beach and the hiking trailheads. But what they loved most was the good eats that surrounded them.
Don’t worry about starving if you’re stuck in Hanalei. There are more than enough places to grab some grub – including burgers, Mexican and plate lunches. We usually stop at Bubba Burger Hanalei, a historic establishment in itself, as an eatery that’s been there since 1936. Bubba’s has the classic burger and fries combo, but we usually get the combo they’re most known for – a double-decker teriyaki burger with sweet potato fries. Mmmm…
After grabbing a bite to eat, you could go for a swim or a snorkel or take a stroll down the crescent-shaped Hanalei Bay. You could even kayak Hanalei River, which flows north from the eastern slope of Mt. Waialeale. There’s so much to do while killing time before the bridge reopens that’ll you’ll quickly forget you were even killing time.
Of course, getting stranded isn’t always going to be fine and dandy. What if you the bridge closure causes you to miss your flight? Most airlines have weather-related policies that will hopefully rectify your problem. Once in Colorado, we couldn’t get to the airport because of a blizzard. We called the airlines a few hours before our flight, and they gave us no problem in postponing it.
Depending on how you look at it, it could be a vacation gone bad or fate telling you to hang out.