As Kaua‘i’s “Biggest Little Town,” Hanapēpē may be short on city streets but it is big on local charm and a relaxed island atmosphere. Located in sunny southern Kaua‘i along the fertile banks of the Hanapēpē River, this small community of native Hawaiians has been living off the land for centuries, growing everything from taro to sugarcane, and bananas to sweet potato. It was also home to one of the first saltwater ponds used to harvest and trade prized Hawaiian sea salt. One of the most famous attractions in this quaint little town is also one of its oldest and most iconic: the Hanapepe Swinging Bridge.
The Original Amusement Ride
Built over 100 years ago in order to span the Hanapēpē River and provide a connection between downtown and the growing fields on the other side of the waterway, the Hanapepe Swinging Bridge in Kauai has been a favorite attraction for visitors from all over the world ever since. Kids (and adults) of all ages enjoy the scenery and the historic charm, but frankly the bouncing, jostling, and swaying walkway is the main draw (you could say it was the first “roller coaster” in Hawai‘i).
A New Hanapepe Swinging Bridge
The current Hanapepe Swinging Bridge was constructed in 1992, replacing the original that was damaged by Hurrican Iniki. The new bridge consists of wooden planks with reinforced steel cables, making it completely safe (but still a thrilling stroll across the wide Hanapēpē River). During the Hanapēpē Art Nights it is a peaceful “escape” from the “madness” of “downtown” Hanapēpē, plus the stargazing from the middle of the span is exceptional. On the far side of the bridge, the Bridge Gallery features exceptional local art and photography, perfect for those seeking a visual souvenir of Kaua‘i’s stunning scenery.
Visiting the Bridge
Free and open to the public, the Hanapepe Swinging Bridge in Kauai can be found in the heart of Hanapēpē. Take Highway 50 to Hanapēpē, then bear right on Hanapēpē Road (before crossing the river). Park along the main street, near the eclectic shops and charming boutiques such as the Aloha Spice Company and Banana Patch Studio, both of which are centrally located and near the town-side of the bridge.