History at Hanalei Pier

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The pier in Hanalei Bay has become a popular and iconic Kauai hangout over the years. Teens cannonball into the waters below, fishermen cast out lures and tourists chill under the pavilion at the end of the pier. It’s a favorite spot of mine whenever I’m on the island, to slow down and cool off with a mid-day plunge into the Pacific. The waters are always inviting and can be a crystal-clear turquoise dream in the summer. Dusk, though, is my favorite hour at the pier. Hanalei sunsets are floods of color. From the grayest blues to the whimsical purples to the fiercest oranges, everyone’s instantly entranced by the magical hues.

An explosive winter sunset at Hanalei Pier.

The pier itself goes back to the late 1800s, when Hawaii’s rice era sparked its construction. With Hanalei as one of the islands’ major rice-growing areas, the pier was used to unload goods that arrived by ship once a month. In order to meet the thriving rice industry, the pier eventually needed to be lengthened and reinforced with concrete in 1912.

Today if you look closely, you’ll see remnants of iron railroad tracks at the base of the pier, which were used to shuttle rice from one end to the other. Connected to those tracks on the beach, a freight storage warehouse once stored farm and food supplies from steamer boats anchored offshore.

Hanalei Bay is filled to the brim with history.

While the warehouse no longer exists, the beach and the pier do. Black Pot Beach Park draws large crowds of locals and visitors almost every day. The name comes from a big, black iron pot once used for cooking fish caught during a hukilau. During such time, the community would gather in Hanalei’s waist-high waters and use their handmade nets to catch schools of meandering fish, and the pot remains as a reminder of the past.

The pier has since become an important landmark and is listed on both the Hawaii and National Registers of Historic Places. It’s also known throughout Hollywood after being featured in Bird of Paradise (1950) and South Pacific (1957). Luckily, this was all filmed before Hurricane Iniki damaged the 340-foot pier in 1992. It has since been fixed and continues to be a gathering place to be enjoyed by all.

HANALEI PIER • Hanalei, Kauai

Photo Credit: Noa Myers


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