Kauai North shore vs South side?

Feb 23rd, 2012, 02:55 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 13
Kauai North shore vs South side?

Hello all,
I need some advice...I have been to Kauai about a dozen times or so. Every time I go there, I/we stay on the south shore in Poipu / Koloa. We are going back in mid-May for 10 days of relaxation. And again I am tasked with finding a place for us to stay. This time, I was thinking that maybe we should try staying on the north shore. We have taken day trips to Princeville, Hanalei, and other sites along the way, but never really had any desire to stay on the "windy/rainy" side of the island. Mostly because I am not a surfer as much as I am a diver. My wife enjoys our hikes and road trips, but she also really enjoys snorkeling and laying out on the beach. So is the north side of Kauai worth staying in? Or should we just stick with the comforts of the south side.

What's on the North shore, that you can't do in a day trip. Why stay there rather than the south shore? We would love to find some non-touristy spots. Or places that are off the beaten track. Good eats. We are not fans of hotels and prefer to stay in either a condo or a house. Obviously the closer we are to the beach, the better. Any ideas?
jeremy001 is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2012, 06:48 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
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Hi --
I suggest you read my latest trip report:


You can also check out my previous reports that will tell you more than you ever wanted to know about the North Shore ;-).

I think the answer to "what's on the N. Shore that you can't do on a day trip" would include ...

-- waking to sunrises with the Anini reef & the lighthouse in the distance

-- sunset dinners with views of Bali Hai

-- long, leisurely days snorkeling and swimming at Ke'e Beach, with the Napali cliffs in the background ... taking my breath away

-- ditto @ stunning Tunnels, Lumahai, Haena, & Anini beaches, (w/o the cliffs--but with their own stunning backdrops)...

-- strolling the length of Hanalei Bay at sunset (or any time)


-- and the hardest to put into words ... being amidst the incredible, dramatic beauty of those jagged peaks -- as opposed to saying, "Oh, now I've seen it. I can go back to the more generic South Shore."

There's something about the North Shore that has a profound pull on some people. If you don't feel it, then maybe it's not the place for you.

For me, there's no comparison. But that's why there's 32 different flavors. There's no right or wrong answer.
Songdoc is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2012, 07:07 AM
Join Date: Nov 2011
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Seconding Songdoc - we are big North Shore fans - starting with our second long visit to the "Bali Hai" view ('77 was our first time on the Garden Isle) ) where we stayed by (was then anyway) Char's restaurant - at the Hanalei Colony resort , http://www.hcr.com/?gclid=CPm1usG8tK4CFaEJRQodFzU6

On the next trip - we bought a timeshare at the Cliffs Club -in Princeville - which overlooks the deep blue ocean and also has good views of the great hills/Bali Hai. They also rent out condos there. http://www.cliffsatprinceville.com/

You might also enjoy the 1958? musical/WWII Love Story - an Academy Award winner by Rogers and Hammerstein - South Pacific - and Mitzi Gaynor "washes that man right out of her hair" at one of our favorite beaches - Lumahai. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0052225/ and for images of one of the most beautiful beaches in the world: http://tinyurl.com/7curfv2

My wife got certified right in Hanalei harbor during our Honeymoon (the company was "Bubbles Below" - and they were great) - and there are a number of good places to dive, as well as - in the summer at least - taking a Zodiac down the incredibly beautiful Na Pali Coast to some secluded dive spots

And it's not always that wet - or even - that cold at Princeville/Hanalei - and when rain drops - the sun usually comes out shortly thereafter - and there are beautiful waterfalls cascading down the mountains.
Tomsd is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2012, 07:12 AM
Join Date: Nov 2011
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And here is a good map - and you pass over 7 one lane bridges to get out to Ke' beach - where there is also some great hiking and at sunset - try to see if you can catch the "green flash". At Lumahi - you have to park on the road and hike down a little - but when you are there - it's usually not that crowded and also it's good for snorkeling by the rocks.

Tomsd is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2012, 08:13 AM
Join Date: Jan 2009
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Stay in the north shore. It's a totally different vibe than the Poipu/southShore, especially if you stay in somewhere like Hanalei or Haena.
Placename is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2012, 08:17 AM
Join Date: Mar 2011
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I don't know if we'll ever find a better place than the one we've booked for 10 nights this August - http://jalbum.net/en/browse/user/album/926701/ - but I'd suggest that, if you've been to Kauai's north shore multiple times, and it hasn't yet seduced you, it might be best to just stick with Poipu. And if you like Poipu, I'm wondering why you're not considering Maui.
islandaze is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2012, 09:11 PM
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Posts: 13
Thank you for all of your feedback. All of you are describing the Northshore, and it sounds similar to Hana on Maui. We have stayed at Travaasa as well as a rental house there a few times. However, after about 6 days I need more. They used to have an awesome horseback tour that would take you from the resort through the green hills of Hana and somehow we ended up at the White sand beach a few miles away from the resort. If you took the evening tour, they ended at the beach and had what seemed like a real Luau. Much better than the hyper touristy Gaylords(Kauai). I enjoy the relaxing, ease of Hana, but like I said, after a week or so, I needed more than the Spa and morning yoga classes. We always went to Kauai after that, which always seems like there is a little more to do, including SCUBA, which I love to do in Hawaii. Princeville never struck me as a relaxing place or a place where I could safely SCUBA or even just swim/snorkel.

Is there any where to SCUBA or snorkel other than Tunnels beach. Are there any boat tours on this side of the island? There used to be sailing and rafting tours many years ago from Hanalei Bay, but I thought that they pretty much cancelled them unless the ocean is calm.

I can't say that I am a fan of what Poipu is turning into. With that newer shopping area near the old fire station and all of the buildup along the coast to Spouting Horn, it seems like they are trying to copy Kaanapali Beach in Maui, which, I hate.

Would it make sense to spend 5 days in Poipu and 5 days in Princeville/Hanalei?
jeremy001 is offline  
Feb 24th, 2012, 02:51 AM
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 11,375
You can dive right in Hanalei harbor - which we did - and they have some beautiful spots. You can also snorkel at Ke beach - at the end of the road - protected by the reef. Probably my second favorite place in the islands to snorkel - and we have snorkeled all over the six main islands - and dove several places, including Kauai, Oahu and Big Island.

And I think for your preferences/experience - your plan of splitting it up - 5 days at the North Shore and 5 days down Poipu way sounds great. There is also a lot more to do at North Shore than there is in Hana, by far, but we also loved Hana.

Hope you grow to love the North Shore as we do.
Tomsd is offline  
Feb 24th, 2012, 02:53 AM
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BTW - if you really want to get away - stay a night or two up in Waimea Canyon. Our local friends - from Waimea town - used to have a Mauka cabin up there - and we had to cut wood and heat up a stove to have hot water - and we loved it.
Tomsd is offline  
Feb 24th, 2012, 03:01 AM
Join Date: Nov 2011
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And Ilandaze: What a super place - presumably away from Hanalei town toward Ke beach right? While we first visited north shore in '77 - driven up by our friends from Waimea town - and later stayed at the Hanalei Colony resort on our honeymoon back in '86 - and as year later bought a timeshare at the Cliffs Club - we have always wanted to rent a little cottage like this for a week. Just perfect.

Can you please tell me about how much it cost? Thanks.

Tom in San Diego
Tomsd is offline  
Feb 24th, 2012, 07:37 AM
Join Date: Mar 2011
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Tom - here's another link to Hale Makai Cottages: http://www.halemakaicottages.com/. We stayed in #5 last fall when there were four of us, but think #3 is about as good as it gets....anywhere. Hale Makai is next door to Hanalei Colony Resort, towards Tunnels.
islandaze is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2012, 12:58 PM
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Posts: 62
My wife and I like Poipu a lot and often split our trip into a stay north and then some time in Poipu. But Hanalei is our favorite place on earth. Here are a quick 20 reasons for staying there, in no particular order:

1. Rainbows. One day in Hanalei Bay I counted eight rainbows, two of which were doubles.

2. Black Pot Pier. Hanging out there at sunset is unreal, surreal, really real. And really great.

3. Keiki surfers at Pine Trees. There's something indescribable about watching a 9 or 10 year old girl carrying a surfboard that's longer than she is over the sand, into the water, and onto the wave. We can watch the surfers for hours and hours from everywhere on Hanalei Beach, but the kids at Pine Trees are the best.

4. Walking in the deep sand of Tunnels all the way around the corner. Want a workout? Try this.

5. Looking for celebs, trying to distinguish them from the hippy-stoners.

6. The chicken man at Haena Beach Park.

7. The ferns along the side of the road past Wainiha and heading to Kee.

8. The slightest remnants of the Taylor Camp in the woods at Kee.

9. The taco truck at Black Pot Pier.

10. The incredibly fit bodies walking and running on Hanalei.

11. Watching the tapas chefs work their magic in the open kitchen area of Bar-acuda.

12. Is that Pierce Brosnan . . . or just an old guy with a well-manicured beard?

13. Staying at the Love Shack just north of Wainiha and taking the exactly seven steps onto the sand.

14. The locals arriving at Black Pot in the late afternoon for a quick hour of surfing.

15. Learning to surf at Black Pot.

16. Watching the perpetual play of light and shadow on the sublime canvas created by the Han mountains. Nature is inexorable. And a damn fine artist.

17. The pocket beach of Lumahai. If you've spent some time there, you know that nothing else need be said.

18. So many great beaches: Kee, Tunnels, Lumahai, Hanalei, Secret, Anini, Kahili, Kalihiwai, and on and on and on. My wife and I love Mahaulepu (far and away our fave south shore beach) and always get a kick out of Poipu Park, and we love heading west to Salt Pond and Kekaha. But if you love beaches, you are in heaven when you're on the North Shore.

19. Spending a week (or two or three)at one of the Kobayashi houses on the north/west end of Hanalei. How can you beat the Moon Cottage for retro Kauai?

20. The spirit of place. It's there, it's palpable, it will get under your skin, it will quicken your pulse, it will work its way to your soul, it will make you smile.

Want more reasons? Let me know and I'll take one minute and come up with 20 more!
Cidbob is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2012, 01:19 PM
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sf7307 is offline  
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