In the summer, the bay offers excellent mooring for sailboats, stand up paddle boarding and swimming. During the winter the surf becomes large and is a favorite surf location. There are surf rental stands at the Hanalei Pier on the South shore of the bay. Three beach parks are located on Hanalei Bay: Black Pot Beach Park, Hanalei Pavilion Beach Park, and Wai'oli Beach Park. Each of them has restrooms, showers, and parking. Several public rights-of-way are also located along the bay. Black Pot Beach Park borders the mouth of the Hanalei River and is also the site of a public boat ramp and a 300-foot-long pier, the former Hanalei Landing.
Lifeguards are on duty at Pavilions and at Pine Trees year round.