Hanapepe, Hawaii Guide

Image Credit John Hyun|https://www.flickr.com/photos/jshyun/34949721601/
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Address , Hanapepe, HI 96716
Complete guide to the city of Hanapepe, Kauai, Hawaii.

• General: Educational • General: Guide • General: History

Guide Series: Hawaii City Guides
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Hanapepe Location

Hanapepe is a small town, only about one square mile in size, located on the south shore of Kaua'i. It's sits right behind Hanapepe Bay and heads back mauka (towards the mountains). To the west is Kaumakani and to the east is Eleele. Getting here is easy, just take the Kaumualii Highway (the main road in this area, also known as Highway 50) which runs right through the town.

Hanapepe History

The town of Hanapepe was one of the places that Charles Wilkes visited as head of the United States Exploring Expedition in 1840. The expedition set out to survey the Pacific Ocean and surrounding lands which helped the USA in the scientific field of oceanography.

With so much of Kauai's history tied to Sugar in Hawaii, it's sort of interesting to note that Hanapepe was actually one of the few towns here that was not created by the island's many sugarcane plantations. Unfortunately, sugar plantations indirectly tarnished this town with what was know as the Hanapepe Massacre (sometimes called the Battle of Hanapepe).

It all started with disgruntled Filipino plantation workers (living in Hanapepe) who simply wanted a better (fair) wage as well as better working conditions (like a reduced, 8 hour work day). After trying to negotiate and even strike, things turned deadly 1924. The plantations would hire "strikebreakers" to break through the lines and work (at a wage higher than the Filipinos were asking for no less).

On September 9, 1942 some of the Filipino workers captured two strikebreakers and held them hostage with knives and homemade weapons. Police ended up shooting and killing several of the Filipino strikers while they, in turn, stabbed three sheriffs and fatally wounded one. When the skirmish was over, 20 people had died and the armed protests stopped.

Hanapepe Attractions

There is actually quite a lot to see and do in and around the Hanapepe area. First up, be sure to stop at the Hanapepe Valley Lookout which you'll find right off the main highway as you approach the town (from the east). Stop off and grab a few pictures there but watch kids around traffic and don't go beyond the guard rails or you may end up like Douglas Kenney (co-writer of films like Caddyshack and National Lampoon's Animal House) who fell 35 feet to his death in 1980.

Just south of town and right on Hanapepe Bay is the small Port Allen Airport along with the Port Allen Small Boat Harbor where many boat tours to the famous Napali Coast (and elsewhere) start out.

Also in this same area is the incredibly unique Glass Beach. Now, this isn't a place you'll go for a swim. Nor is it overly picturesque due to the unsightly fuel tanks that dot the beach and general industrial area. But it is incredibly unique as the beach itself is made up of glass. Small bits of seaglass which has been tumbling around in the ocean and sand for years washes up here and creates an amazing sight to see. There's always glass here but if you're luckily you'll come where when the entire beach is completely covered in the stuff. It makes for an amazing place to see as well as photograph.

Just southwest of town is the popular, and excellent, Salt Pond Beach Park. This is a beach you won't want to miss on Kaua'i. The locals love this one as well so it is likely to be crowded on weekends but only lightly used on most weekdays. It's a great place to bring the kids as the area is well protected from the open ocean.

If you time your visit for a Friday evening, be sure to stop in for Hanapepe Friday Art Night. It's a way for the public to come and meet various Kauai artists, view art galleries, enjoy local music, and taste local foods.

The Hanapepe Swinging Bridge is a bit of a local landmark. To some, this pedestrian footbridge is a lot of fun to walk over as it really does swing. For others it's either terrifying (though we're not sure how that could be) or worthy of many yawns. Probably not the thing you'd drive halfway across the island to see but worth checking out if you're nearby.

Just east of town is the popular and tourist friendly Kauai Coffee Company where you can tour a coffee farm, sample many flavors of their tasty coffee, and buy some souvenirs to take home (including that tasty coffee). If you're nearby, it's worth a stop.

View all that Hanapepe has to offer here.

Hanapepe Fun Facts

The name Hanapepe means "crushed bay" in Hawaiian. The ice cream company Lappert's Hawaii is headquartered here. Hanapepe is also home to the western-most bookstore Talk Story Bookstore in the United States.

The town was also the inspiration for the fictions hometown, Kokaua Town, of the main characters in the animated Disney film Lilo & Stitch (photo above from the Stitch's Great Escape! ride in Walt Disney World).