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Is the north shore of Kauai too isolated for sightseeing and good eating?

Is the north shore of Kauai too isolated for sightseeing and good eating?

Sep 5th, 2009, 06:25 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 88
Is the north shore of Kauai too isolated for sightseeing and good eating?

It sounds as though the beauty of the north shore of Kauai is what really sets the island apart from others. The south shore is apparently very dry with beaches that are not really special in any way. If this is true, we will probably stay in the Princeville area but are concerned that it is far from other attractions and that we'll always be driving. The south shore, while not as beautiful, seems more convenient. We are attracted to the beauty of the north but worry that we will be very isolated and not have access to better restaurants.
Can some of you help us by either confirming the above or telling us why these problems are not a big deal. Thanks in advance.
james_lee is offline  
Sep 5th, 2009, 06:58 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 75
A few years ago we stayed at the Radisson which I believe is now the Kauai Beach Resort just south of Kapaa on the east coast. Our location was great we could easily take day trips around the whole island (However swimming was not good). Princeville on the north shore is beautiful and is pretty close to lots of restaurants. It depends just how close you want to be. We didn't really like the south shore as it is much busier but you certainly have lots of choices there in restaurants and accom choices. The Island itself is not that big. Whatever you decide, try and arrange a helicopter tour over the Napali Coast it is awesome! I'm sure you will love your stay on the island!!
Laurelie is offline  
Sep 5th, 2009, 07:15 AM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 579
The north is more lush than south or west but that doesn't mean those areas are barren desert they just don't get as much rain.
To get from Princeville to Kekaha and Waimea Canyon is around an hour and a half depending on traffic and that isn't that long.
hulajake is offline  
Sep 5th, 2009, 07:22 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,597
Ditto on the helicopter tour. It's not to be missed. Expensive, but worth every penny. Given your pull between north and south, I would consider staying on the east coast (Kapaa area) so you have an easy commute to both. Some really beautiful parts of the island, Waimea Canyon and Kokee State park, are on the west side, which you cannot get to directly from the north side---you need to drive all the way south and then west to get there.
So as you can see, there IS no perfect place to stay on Kauai because wherever you stay you will have to drive a goodly way to see the rest of the island. And it's all so wonderful you WILL want to see it all.
montereybob is offline  
Sep 6th, 2009, 11:05 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 879
People have different tolerances for the time they are willing to spend driving to scenic spots, favorite restaurants, etc. I am one of those who hates to spend precious time in a car. I like both sides of Kauai...and everything in between. Here's what works for me:
1. Return often, and base in a different location each time.
2. Split trip into 2 locations
3. Stay in middle
4. Base in one location, but take overnight jaunt to other side... mid-trip. This is my favorite option as I only need to pack a few things for the side trip. I like to stay in a "splurge" hotel for the one night. This is instead of helicopter tour, zip line, etc. Past "splurge" hotels have included the Grand Wailea on Maui and the Hyatt in Poipu. (Places I couldn't afford for a longer stay, but great experiences for 1 night of indulgence. Good bang-for-the-buck if you check in early and stay late!)

I was on Kauai in April. Spent 2 nights on west side, exploring Kekaha, Waimea, and Hanapepe. Moved to Princeville for 5 nights, day-tripping only from Kilauea to Haena. Spent no time in Poipu or Eastside (except to drive through).

I'm returning in November. This time I'll stay a week in Poipu, but am thinking about 1 night at the Princeville St. Regis.

One nice trip to Kauai (a few years ago), I stayed in a cottage in the hills above Kapaa, with a one night mid-trip visit to the Sheraton in Poipu. Another time I stayed in a lovely condo near the Coconut Plantation and found it very easy to day-trip in every direction. Not the most scenic home base area for a first visit, however.

My method(s) might not work for most people, but decided to throw them out there as alternatives. I find I have a richer travel experience if I get to know an area in more depth, rather than just scratching the surface by trying to see and do too much.
Barbara5353 is offline  
Sep 7th, 2009, 04:20 PM
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 145
Hi james. Just got back from Kauai last week - first time to the islands. Each coast of the island is beautiful in it's own unique and special way. We stayed in Kapaa, and found it very convenient. Since we'd never been, we knew we wanted to see as much as possible. It was a great place to start, since nothing was much more than an hour away, except the top of Waimea Canyon. If we were to go back, where we stay would depend on the time of year. If we went back in summer again, I would opt for the North; winter either the east or the South. Since we've seen so much, I wouldn't feel to need to be all over the place like I was the first time.

2 other suggestions.
first, if you choose to do a helicopter/airplane ride, go early in your trip. Ours got postponed due to plane trouble, so we went our last day & found that we'd missed the best snorkeling at Tunnels because we didn't know what the reef "looked like" until we saw if from above. We'll always regret that (unless we get back one day, of course).

second, read, read, read. There is a wealth of information on this forum. Read as much as you can. Also, if you don't already have it, get yourself the "bible"-The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook, by Andrew Doughty. We never left our hotel without it (and we'd bought 3 other books that I didn't even bother bringing in the end).
HawaiiVirgin is offline  
Sep 7th, 2009, 04:42 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 88
Thanks for the very helpful suggestions. I have the '04 edition of the Doughty book and will check to see if the latest is much different. If we stay in Poipu, I assume we can get to Princeville and back for a nice day trip. Maybe an hour and a half each way??
james_lee is offline  
Sep 7th, 2009, 06:12 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 2,644
Yes, you can easily drive that in under an hour-and-a-half. But Princeville is an area to stay -- not a tourist destination. If you're curious you could drive to the end of the main road in Princeville where the St. Regis Hotel is being readied. There are some beautiful views of "Bali Hai." But there's not anything else to see or do in Princeville itself.

When you drive to the North Shore I'd suggest visiting the Kilauea Lighthouse; Hanalei (the town) and Hanalei Bay (the beach); and Ke'e Beach (at the very end of the road). From Ke'e if you walk a few minutes you can get beautiful views of parts of the Napali Cliffs.

If you want to explore additional beaches en route you could stop at Anini Beach and Tunnels. And be sure to stop at the scenic overlook across from the shopping center on the main road just past Princeville. It's well marked and there will be lots of tourists there admiring the beautiful views.

To make it perfect day you could have breakfast at Kountry Kitchen in Kapa'a -- and dinner at Hamura's Saimon in Lihue ;-)
Songdoc is offline  
Sep 8th, 2009, 03:17 PM
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 157
Songdoc gave you the North Shore beaches and sights. I will give you some restaurants that we like on the North Shore
Fredericos in back of Princeville Shopping Center
Mediterranean Gourmet on the way to Kee Beach
Baracuda (our personal favorite) in Hanalei
Neides Samba and Salsa in Hanalei
Postcards in Hanalei
Princeville Golf Course restaurant
CJ's at Princeville Shopping Center
Hanalei Dolphin (they also have an excellent fish market)
Tropical Taco in Hanalei
Tropical Dreams (ice cream)in Kilauea
The St. Regis will be opening the end of September. Breathtaking views from the lounge
jojuice is offline  
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