North Shore of Kauai

Kauai's North Shore

Travel Kauai's North Shore Like a Local

Top restaurants, hotels, and activities featuring the best of Hanalei, Princeville, and Kilauea, curated by local experts

  • Hanalei means “crescent bay.”
  • Princeville was named in honor of young Hawaiian prince, who in turn was named for Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert.
  • Kilauea, home to a lighthouse on the northernmost point on the island, means “spewing.”
  • Limahuli Garden and Preserve showcases the flora of a pristine Hawaiian valley.
  • Na Aina Kai Botanical Gardens, comprising multiple different gardens, was founded by the first wife of Peanuts creator Charles Schulz.
  • The Hanalei Pier, built in 1892, is 340 feet long.
  • The taro doughnuts from Holey Grail Donuts in Hanalei are gluten-free and  fried in coconut oil.
  • The new 1 Hotel Hanalei Bay boasts seven sustainably sourced restaurants and a farmstand.
  • Hanalei Bay reaches depths of more than 3,400 feet

While pronouncing Princeville is a no-brainer, other area names such as Hanalei (hah-nah-lay) and Kilauea (key-lah-way-ah) aren’t as obvious. The 9,000-acre Princeville Resort continues to showcase the timeless beauty of Kauai’s North Shore. Below the blufftop compound of vacation rental condos, resort homes and two renowned golf courses lie sandy beaches and coral reefs teeming with a rainbow of sea life. In the distance, Hanalei’s towering green mountains sport lacy waterfalls after one of the region’s frequent showers; they line a horizon that stretches northwest to “Bali Hai,” the iconic peak in the movie South Pacific. Bali Hai’s Hawaiian name is Makana, meaning “gift”—this present comes with a bright bow on top every sunset.

Close to Kauai’s main highway, Princeville Shopping Center includes an upscale supermarket, wine store and nearly two dozen boutiques, gift shops, family-friendly restaurants and food court options, among other businesses. The Princeville Makai Golf course is open to the public, and offers a self-guided sunset golf cart tour with dazzling views of the Robert Trent Jones Jr. links. A quick drive downhill leads to the plantation-style village of Hanalei, the wider beaches of Hanalei Bay, and picturesque one-lane bridges on a road that ends at Haena State Park (reservations now required) and the trailhead to the rugged Napali Coast.

Cattle began grazing Princeville’s verdant pastures in the 1830s, a legacy maintained today by family-owned Princeville Ranch.  A few decades later, a Scottish doctor bought a Hanalei sugar plantation and the ranchlands, renaming the area “Princeville” in honor of an 1860 visit by King Kamehameha IV, Queen Emma and their only child, a toddler who died two years later.

In 1986, a Japanese development group opened the opulent Princeville Resort hotel, renowned for its superlative views from “magic” windows that could be switched to opaque and back to transparent. Its completely new, sustainable luxury-themed incarnation debuted in early 2023 as 1 Hotel Hanalei Bay; standard rates start at over $2,000 per night including taxes.

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