Hangin' Loose in Hanalei Bay

By: Smith Schwartz |


After spending some time on the south and west sides of Kauai, we headed up north to Hanalei Bay. This is an idyllic setting, a peaceful beachfront surrounded by lush flora and cliffs and shorelines for days.


It’s a quaint little town that’s only somewhat overrun by tourists and only accessible by a one-lane bridge.


Even though the main business in this town is now tourism, you can still feel the heartbeat of days gone by. The old schoolhouse turned strip mall sits across the street from one of the best establishments in all of Hawaii, Tahiti Nui. This little dive of a joint has been in operation for 50 years, and still looks the same as the day it opened.

When a US Air Force colonel met and married a Tahitian woman named Louise all those years ago, they settled in Hawaii and opened this little diner. She developed the menu and decorated the place with bamboo and flowers that reminded her of home. It’s now run by their son and his wife, so photos of the entire family surround the bar. If you look closely toward the back, you’ll see a recent shot non-family members George Clooney and Beau Bridges chatting it up in a still from The Descendants. Parts of the film were shot here, enlivening the legend of this already locally famous joint.


The food is great, the Mai Tais are even better, but the real reason to come here is the spirited crowd that piles in every night to enjoy the best live music venue on the islands. Our favorite place to hang loose in all of Hawaii (so far…) Tahiti Nui is a real gem.