Our Visit To The Worst Club Med On Earth

by joeheg

As we planned our trip to Kauai, we decided to split our time between the southern and northern sides of the island. While on the south side, we stayed at the Grand Hyatt Kauai and enjoyed the resort life, spending time at the massive pool complex and on-site restaurants.

For our stay in Princeville on the northern side of Kauai, we booked an Airbnb. That’s because there aren’t many hotels in the area and the point of staying there is to get out and explore.

While we like being outside, we’re not the types who go on long hikes in the jungle. In addition, our bones, muscles and lungs don’t appreciate going up and down hills as we get older. This hike to a waterfall in Iceland took maximum effort and even then we took almost twice the stated time to finish the trip.

Even if there were amazing hikes in the area, we weren’t going on any of them. I had to stick to ones rated “Easy” and even then I had to skip the ones with muddy paths and steep inclines.

While reading the Kauai Revealed guidebook. which I strongly recommend if you’re planning a visit, there was one hike that got my attention. The “Club Med Ruins” hike was an easy walk, and as an added bonus, it was only a 5-minute drive from our Airbnb.

For some history, the plot of land overlooking Hanalei Bay is the site of the Old Hanalei Plantation. The first hotel was developed in the 1960s and Club Med converted the hotel into one of its resorts in the 1970s. Unfortunately, the windy and rainy North Shore of Kauai wasn’t what many vacationers wanted and the property went into bankruptcy and closed by the end of the decade. Even though the area is called the Club Med ruins, what’s left of the site is actually from a condo development that started in the 80s and was abandoned when the project went bankrupt.

While there’s talk of developing the property (it’s in a prime location overlooking the bay), strong local opposition has kept that from happening for now.

To get to the hike, we exited Kuhio Parkway (the main road) onto Hanalei Plantation Road and took it as far as we could. If you’re driving, be polite and follow the signs to avoid parking on private property. There are only about 4 spots (which aren’t shown in this picture).

a dirt road with a tree in the background

Once out of your car, head around the gate blocking the road from vehicular traffic.

a dirt road with a yellow fence and signs

While I usually would feel strange entering a closed path, many websites say that the owners are OK with people walking through the area (albeit at their own risk). Keep walking down the road, past the shack that looks like it could be from a horror film.

a dirt road with trees and a shed

Eventually, we came to another gate. At this time, another couple walked past us and I joked that I hoped they weren’t following us, cause we had no idea where we were headed. They said that they knew where they were going and we were headed in the right direction.  This gate had a walking path around it with a reminder to be careful on the property.

a wooden gate in a grassy area

From here, the path became less and less like a road.

a dirt road with trees and plants a dirt path with trees and grass

Eventually, the pavement disappears. The grounds are maintained with a clear path the vehicles use when on the land. Here’s where you see the first of the “ruins”

a path through a grassy area

Of the condos planned for the area, all that’s left are the concrete foundations. Even those are getting overrun by vegetation and starting to crumble, exposing the rebar held within.

a grass field with trees and a stone wall

Through the trees, you can get a glimpse of the view these condos would have of Hanalei Bay below.

a concrete wall with plants and trees in the background

As you get further toward the end of the trail, the area becomes more jungle-like. Once again, you’re reminded that climbing around the area isn’t safe. Saying construction is unfinished is quite an understatement.

a sign on a pole

a dirt field with trees and a stone wall

From what would have been the community hall, you have a great view of the bay.

a ruins of an abandoned building

a body of water with a dock and mountains in the background

As you look around, you can see how nature is reclaiming the space.

a tree branches and vines in a forest

a concrete structure in the woods

a concrete stairs in a forest

As a bonus to making it to the end of the trail, there’s a path that leads down to Pu’u Poa Beach.

a tree on a beach

a tree on a beach

We sat here for a while and watched the waves lap against the beach.

a beach with waves and trees

While we were there, we watched surfers ride the waves into Hanalei Bay. After resting up, we prepared for the walk back to the car. Since the walk to the beach was downhill, we’d have to climb up the path back to the ruins and then to the road. We were in no rush and the weather was nice, so it was a pleasant stroll.

Be aware that there are no amenities or facilities on the hike. Bring some water along and the necessary equipment if you’re planning on getting near the water.

For us, this was a perfect way to spend an afternoon. We got to do some beginner-level urban exploring and ended up sitting on a beach that we had mostly to ourselves.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


Charles McGimsey October 19, 2022 - 7:26 pm

What a misleading title. You did not travel to a Club Med.

Stefan Swanepoel January 24, 2023 - 3:07 am

Fascinating trial with awesome views! For some background info on the Club Med that was once there, read the History of Princeville on I Heart Princeville and scroll down to the year 1980.


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