When we planned our trip to the islands of Hawaii
last year, of course we watched Lilo & Stitch
, the adorable Disney animated movie based in Hawaii, to get even more excited about our adventures.
You may know that we are huge Disney fans, frequenting Disney World, Disneyland, and recently enjoying our first Disney Cruise.
I ended up researching the movie a bit to see where the inspiration and ideas came from, and I found that the town that Lilo and Nani live in is based off of the real Hawaiian town of Hanapepe located on the gorgeous island of Kauai.
See Related: A Dino-mite Tour of Hawaii: Jurassic Park and Jurassic World Movie Locations
|Gorgeous aged Aloha Theatre sign in historic Hanapepe
As a Disney fan, when you find that you can actually visit the home of Lilo & Stitch, that side trip is automatically added to the plans!
See Related: 40 Things To Do in the Islands of Hawaii
The town was chosen for its vintage, authentic, sleepy quality, so, of course, it’s not a huge tourist destination. We actually love areas that are secret gems. Resorts, crowds, and shopping centers just don’t equal Hawaii or a Hawaiian experience to us.
After a morning at Kauai’s Waimea Canyon and lunch of delicious shrimp, we headed for Hanapepe!
See Related: Hawaii’s Waimea Canyon: A Photo Essay
The only reference to Lilo and Stitch in Hanapepe is a painted mural on the empty Aloha Theatre. We were actually glad that they didn’t go overboard with the Disney references or try to capitalize on it. The charm of this town is its authenticity.
Hanapepe’s number one attraction is the Historic Hanapepe Swinging Bridge, built in 1911 for locals to easily cross the river. Of course, we had to go check it out.
This Swinging Bridge is one of the largest that I’ve ever been on. And definitely felt more sturdy. We had to work to get it swingin’, but it was a lot of fun.
|Love this view!
|Jenni excited to shop at the Aloha Spice Company.
Right near the bridge, we found a great little shop called Aloha Spice Company. They sell spices that are made right there in Kauai. We love shopping local when we travel, and we love trying new things, so taste-testing some made-in-Hawaii spices was right up our alley.
|Spices available at the Aloha Spice Company
The Aloha Spice Company makes a variety of spices, rubs, and seasonings, and most of them were on a table to be tasted. I absolutely loved the Black Lava Hawaiian Sea Salt, not only for the quality, but because it reminds me so much of the lava and black sand beaches of Hawaii.
Overall, we absolutely loved the small town of Hanapepe. It’s such a great change of pace from large, tourist-filled areas like Waikiki. This is real Hawaii. The people, the buildings, and the swinging bridge were all charming. We totally see why Hanapepe stole the hearts of the animators of Disney’s Lilo & Stitch!
Thanks for letting us visit, Hanapepe! We hope to see you again!
Have you visited Hanapepe? What is your favorite Hawaiian town? Let us know in the comments below! We’d love to hear from you!
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Jennifer is the founder of Just Chasing Rabbits travel blog. She lives in Mississippi with husband/travel companion, Mark, and fur babies, Gizmo and OJ. After obtaining a BA degree in studio art and working in the field of photography for years, Jenni has combined her love of travel and photography to form this blog. Mark and Jenni share their experiences in hopes of inspiring others to have wonderful adventures and see the world.
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