Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge


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Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge»

After visiting the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, we continued our tour of Kauai’s North Shore. We stopped at the Hanalei Valley Overlook on Kuhio Highway to see the Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge.


This a quick stop…just the view to take in and some interpretive displays about the refuge and the waterbirds it protects. A visitor center is in the planning stages, close to the existing overlook. The refuge wetlands are closed to the public.


Hanalei NWR was established in 1972 to protect the Hawaiian Duck, Hawaiian Stilt, Hawaiian Coot, Hawaiian Common Moorhen and the Nene. The largest population of Hawaiian Ducks or Koloa are found here. All five birds are on the endangered species list. This wildlife refuge is one of several in Hawaii seeking to reclaim the wetland habitats and taro ponds from the now defunct sugar cane industry.


The US Fish and Wildlife Service allows farmers to grow Taro in the valley by special permit. Taro root is the basis for Poi, a traditional side dish served at luaus, and was an important staple for ancient Hawaiians. It has been harvested in Hanalei for over 1000 years and the fields provide a desirable habitat for some of the waterbirds.


Kauai Posts:


Location: Kapaʻa, HI 96746

Designation: National Wildlife Refuge

Date designated/established: November 30, 1972

Date of my visit: April 18, 2019



16 thoughts on “Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge

  1. I remember looking down on those taro fields during our 2002 trip with our sons. I loved out time on Kauai. So much more relaxing than Waikiki and Maui. Thanks for sharing. Hope all is well, T. Allan

    1. Thanks Allan! Kauai was certainly the easiest to explore, though there were aspects of Oahu/Waikiki that we enjoyed. On Maui, our itinerary didn’t go off as planned due to some unforeseen circumstances, so I think we need a do over there.😃

      1. Kauai was a delightful place to visit. Our trip to Hanalei was aborted because I slammed the car door on my thumb the night before and was in so much pain – had to go to a clinic. I’m glad they are restoring old sugarcane field for native birds. Now, poi was something I could have lived without trying!

      2. 🤕 Ouch! I skipped the poi this time, but there were yummy dinner rolls made from Taro (like potato rolls, but purple) at the luau we attended. Our tour guide in Oahu had a box of Taro donuts for us. And then there are terra chips. So there are definitely more palatable preparations for the Taro root, 😂 lol

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