Most of the best views in Hawaii are facing the ocean - but not all of them.
Kauai's Hanalei Valley is one of the greatest inland-facing views anywhere in the state. The sleepy valley is home to the oldest wildlife refuge on the island. Behind it stand epic mountains scattered with waterfalls and prone to beaming rainbows.
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It makes for nothing short of a breathtaking view from afar. The refuge itself, however, is closed to the public. Curious visitors have traditionally had to stop at a small observation point along the Kuhio Highway to catch a glimpse of it - and snap a few quick photos.
While there are no plans to open the refuge to the public, the county has been working on constructing a much larger and more comprehensive viewing area for some time. According to local sources, that viewing site is finally on the verge of being ceremoniously opened for visitors to enjoy.
Although officials and reporters alike have been referring to the project as a “viewing area,” further details reveal that it will likely be something much more elaborate than that. The new area is said to be over 5 acres. It will contain two separate, new viewing areas. There will be 25 parking spaces, short-term parking for buses, seating, toilets, and numerous upgrades like posted education signs.
The location of the soon-to-be viewing point is near the Princeville Shopping Center. Its aim seems primarily to be education - the Hanalei Valley is a wetland habitat for several endangered species that rely on the 917-acre refuge.
Given the introduction of parking spaces and accommodations, another aim would seem to be civil engineering. As the islands continue to see millions of annual visitors, famous vistas like Hanalei Valley see consistent heavy traffic - perhaps more than a simple roadside outlook can accommodate. Building a designated, more extensive area for better views, information, and a better visit seems logical.
The opening date is yet to be announced, but the announcement is expected to be imminent.