Depending on who you talk to, those who have been to Kauai will either particularly love the north side or the south side of the island. On the north side, it tends to rain much more, but you can find amazingly beautiful landscapes like rocky sea cliffs, rugged mountain peaks, and lush fields, while on the south side, there are more easily accessible beaches, and it tends to get much more sunny weather throughout the year. The added rainfall on the North Shore does make it more green and lush, but it may turn some people off because there are a lot less beach days. So it really depends on your preference and lifestyle. For me, I am much more of a sunny weather kinda guy, so the South Shore appealed to me, however I was amazed by the beauty of some of landscapes that we found on the North Shore. Waimea Canyon is the Grand Canyon of the Pacific and is a definite must-see, but it’s located on the West coast. Since it’s a 2-hour drive away from the North Shore, you’ll really want to plan your trip accordingly and make sure you find time to slot it in. Sadly, our agenda didn’t allow us time to drive up to the far west, so we will have save that for our next visit. If you are lucky enough to go, get to the top by around noon to avoid all the fog and clouds that can obscure your view.
The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas
Although we didn’t stay at The Westin, we enjoyed a lovely tour and dinner on their property. Located along a lush cliff on the north shore of Kauai, and resting 200 feet above the Pacific Ocean, The Westin Princeville offers luxurious comfortable living in a relaxing and serene environment. They have spacious studios and 1- and 2-bedroom villas available, as well as a fine dining establishment and a market on site as well. We toured their property and saw several of the guest rooms, which were all felt very warm and homey. With large soaker tubs and contemporary modern furniture, it is ideal for couples and families and it’s definitely a property that I would consider staying at in the future. After our tour, we enjoyed a delicious buffet dinner by their outdoor pool area, and were treated to a hula performance as well.
The Cliffs at Princeville
We stayed at The Cliffs at Princeville, which is a stunning boutique property aptly named because it sits on the edge of a cliff overlooking the ocean. Located in the upscale community of Princeville, the property features low-rise 1- and 2-bedroom condos with full kitchens and bathrooms. Our suite was a 1-bedroom, 2-bathroom unit, and although the furnishings and finishings were a tad dated, the views of the ocean certainly made up for it. Make sure you ask for an ocean facing suite though, otherwise you’ll likely be facing shrubs or a parking lot. A unique feature of the property is their full-service concierge, who can directly book your activities for you, whether you’re fancying a helicopter ride, tubing adventures, kayaking, or anything else you might be in the mood for. It really takes the guesswork out of it so you can truly unwind and enjoy your time on the island.
Attractions & Activities
Capt. Andy’s Sailing Adventures
Captain Andy’s Sailing Adventures‘ is a sailing expedition company located in southwest Kawaii. We embarked on a 5½-hour cruise along the island’s west coast, starting from Port Allen, passing by Niihau, Polihale and the ridges of Kokee, and up to the majestic Nā Pali coast on the north side of the island. Inaccessible by land vehicles, you can only hike, helicopter, or take a boat to get there. The na pali (or high cliffs) along the shoreline rise as high as 4,000 feet above sea level, and extend for 27 kilometres. Luckily for us, the weather cleared up just in time and the waters were quite smooth for our sail. We captured stunning views of lush valleys, waterfalls, sea caves, dolphins, turtles, flying fish, and tropical fish. We even stopped to snorkel and to enjoy a BBQ lunch. On our sail were knowledgable guides who educated us on the history and marine ecology of the region.
Jungle Valley Adventure at Princeville Ranch
If you enjoy the great outdoors, then you’ll certainly enjoy the Jungle Valley Adventure at Princeville Ranch. This 4½-hour family-friendly activity involves kayaking through serene rainforest valleys, hiking, ziplining, and tubing in a swimming hole. You’ll want to make sure you pack your bug spray, sunscreen, water, and dress accordingly for this. Luckily for us, they had wet shoes available to rent, as our rainforest hike would take us through several stream crossings. Along the way, our friendly guides educated us on the regional wildlife and plants found in the area. We hiked down to a stream where we each got a kayak and paddled around 15-minutes to our next stop. We would tie up our kayaks and continue along our hike up to Uluhe Fern Ridge, where we would zip line over twin waterfalls. With 2 400-foot zip lines, you can really get a spectacular bird’s eye view of the rainforest. We then stopped at a nearby swimming hole to enjoy a picnic lunch and inner tubing.
Kayaking the Waioli Stream in the Hawaiian jungle. #kauaisocial A video posted by Dennis Pang (@dennispang) on
Drive up north past Princeville and you’ll arrive in Hanalei Town. You definitely don’t want to miss this town, which has its fair share of bars and restaurants, smoothie bars, contemporary art galleries, and historic sites. Stop by Ching Young Village for some souvenirs and boutique shopping, After wandering around town for a bit, we went to Hawaiian Surfing Adventures for an afternoon of surfing.
The skies cleared up for us just in time, so after a brief safety lesson on land, we headed out to the beach to enjoy some sun and surf. As it was my very first time surfing, my goal for that afternoon was just to stand up on my board. Although the waves were quite small, I started to get the hang of it (after taking a few spills). After surfing, we headed back to town and enjoyed some drinks and small bites at Tahiti Nui.
Surfing for the first time ever with @hawaiiansurfingadventures at Hanalei Bay. #kauaisocial A video posted by Dennis Pang (@dennispang) on
Food & Dining
If you’re looking for duty-free stores and mega malls, then you’ll probably want to go to Oahu instead. There are areas scattered throughout the island for shopping, but they’re mostly small boutiques and quaint restaurants. Kapaa Town is on the northeast side of Kauai and is a great place for shopping. We found a delightful restaurant called Caffe Coco, where we enjoyed some fresh local fare.
Dinner at a shockingly good vegetarian restaurant, @caffecoco. TOP: Coconut Macadamia nut crusted hebe with jasmine rice and coconut cream sauce; Tomato bruschetta with basil on garlic toast; MIDDLE: Potstickers with banana chutney and tofu with mango sauce; BOTTOM: Vietnamese summer rolls with organic greens and peanut sauce; Charmoula platter – Moroccan spiced Ahi with cucumber yogurt, served with sweet potato samosa, jasmine rice, and green salad. They’re not licensed, but you can BYOB. Awesome. #kauaisocial A photo posted by Dennis Pang (@dennispang) on
Click here to read about our adventures on the south side. Kauai is truly a beautiful destination in every way. It’s certainly night and day compared to Oahu. If you enjoy nature and the outdoors, then this is where you need to go. If you prefer something more urban and commercialized, then Oahu is probably the right island for you. In any case, we really do appreciate both islands for what they are, and can’t wait to explore the other Hawaiian islands. But one thing’s for sure, we’re definitely coming back to Kauai again. Mahalo!
Disclaimer: Our accommodations and activities were complimentary, however all thoughts and opinions are our own and we were not compensated in any way.