Club Med Ruins Kauai
We load up our 40L Kalalau Series Waterproof Backpack for a trip to the Club Med Ruins on Kauai!
Popularly known as the Club Med Ruins, the "ruins" found at the Old Hanalei Plantation property overlooking Hanalei Bay are actually from a failed 1980s development. There actually was a Club Med Resort on this property in the 1970s, and before that there was a 1960s hotel development (the Hanalei Plantation Hotel). The Club Med Resort was converted from the hotel. The resort had its heyday for several short years in the late 1970s before closing due to financial hardship. It seems there just wasn't enough sunshine, and too many rainy days, on Kauai's lush North Shore for this type of resort. Honolulu developer Bruce Stark purchased the property in 1979 and in the early 1980s Stark's development company poured the foundations for a number of condos (60 planned) to be built on the site. However, the project went bankrupt and the foundations are the only remains. Despite the 1980s project, the location is still known locally as the "Club Med Ruins." In recent years, a new owner has proposed a hotel and 34 residential lots for luxury homes on the property.
The "Club Med Ruins" location is perhaps the most valuable and desirable on Kauai. The location is on a promontory bordering the Hanalei River and Puu Poa Beach with a dramatic view of Hanalei Bay. It is also known as Hanalei River Ridge and its historical name Kauakaniaunu. Scenes from the 1958 movie South Pacific were filmed here.
Today, fierce local opposition to the proposed hotel and residential lots has significantly delayed development of the property. Save Hanalei River Ridge (Defend Hanalei) is a community-based organization that has taken a lead on this issue. As a result, the overgrown ruins and the property remain relatively untouched. The grounds continue to be maintained with some mowing and minor landscaping work. Sometimes there is a security guard in a patrol vehicle on the premises. However, visitors are not (to our knowledge) turned away by security and the grounds continue to be a relatively hidden gem for those in the know. A few local residents enjoy the property for morning and evening walks and every now and then a famous surfer makes an appearance.
The setting is green, parklike and tranquil. A thin dirt road runs down the middle of the 2,000 foot long promontory. There are numerous cement slabs and walls that are overgrown with vegetation. Near the ocean is an overgrown pit that looks to have been a swimming pool. At the tip is a small clearing with wonderful views of Hanalei Bay and the offshore surf spot frequented by some of the biggest names in surfing. Below, on the opposite side of Hanalei Bay, is a marsh that is the location of an ancient fishpond known as Kamoomaikai Fishpond. This fishpond dates back 600 years and was used by Hawaiians to harvest fish. Portions of the fishpond's rock wall are still visible behind the treeline at Puu Poa Beach. High tides would bring seawater and fish into the pond, and the rock wall would keep the fish inside the pond when the tide receded. The Princeville Resort (the former St. Regis Princeville Resort) prominently sits on the other side of the fishpond, and Hanalei Bay Resort can be seen on the opposite ridge.
We are hopeful that any development on this special piece of property will be thwarted. Though we understand that there should be some consideration to the group that bought the property for $75 million, Hanalei Ridge is a unique place on this Earth. This location should only be a park in the greater scheme of things. Anything more would take away from the natural beauty of Kauai's North Shore and the small-town feel of the community. Certainly, no one in Hanalei, or who visits Hanalei, would want to see a line of condos as a bookend to beautiful Hanalei Bay, as has similarly happened at Nawiliwili Harbor.
Club Med Ruins Location
To reach the Club Med Ruins start at Puu Poa Beach at the Princeville Resort. Proceed down the beach towards Hanalei Bay. You can stay on the beach or follow the trail in the trees above the beach. When you get to the end of the beach (and marshy area behind the beach) there is a trail that leads up to the ridge. There is a sign at the head of the trail that reads "WARNING! The construction improvements on this property are unfinished and can be dangerous. FOR YOUR SAFETY PLEASE USE CAUTION. PLEASE STAY OFF UNFINISHED STRUCTURES." Certainly, this warning should be heeded. (Additionally, watch out for rusted pipes protruding from some of the structures.) The ridge can also be reached from the top from Hanalei Plantation Road.
Location at Google Maps
More Club Med Ruins Photos
The path above Puu Poa Beach to the ruins.
A beautiful view of Hanalei Bay from the Club Med Ruins location.
The "Club Med Ruins."
Above and below: Our Kauai Surf Co. 40L Kalalau Series Waterproof Backpack at the Club Med Ruins.
Our DJI Spark drone photo shows the mouth of the Hanalei River, Hanalei Ridge and the Club Med Ruins, the ancient fishpond, the Princeville Resort and the Hanalei Bay Resort Condos.