Kauai's North Shore
Everything you need to know about visiting Kauai's North Coast.
- 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.
Where to Stay in North Shore
Where to Eat in North Shore
Kauai's Annual Events
JANUARY: Want to start your year with some golf? The Sony Open, the largest charity golf event in Hawaii, is a hole in one.
MARCH: If you’re looking for a day full of parades, crafts, and educational exhibitions, make sure to stop by The Honolulu Festival supporting the Koa Tree Planting Project.
APRIL: You won’t see anything like the Waikiki SPAM Jam Festival, on the mainland! The street festival celebrates Hawaii’s unusually large consumption of SPAM with a variety of booths and restaurants. The celebration also includes free entertainment and all of the proceeds benefit the Hawaiian Foodbank.
MAY: May 1st is Lei Day in Hawaii. The annual Lei Day Celebration at Kapiolani Park features lei exhibits, the annual Lei Court, foods, crafts, and entertainment. You won’t want to miss the biggest celebration held in front of the Outrigger Beach Resort.
JUNE: While the tranquil ocean water may be calling your name, don’t forget to dive into traditional Hawaiian culture too. The three-day Pan-Pacific Festival (full of arts, crafts, foods, and performances) is a great place to start.
JULY: Want to watch authentic Hawaiian Hula? Be sure to make a stop at the annual Prince Lot Hula Festival featuring performances from a variety of hula groups. The annual Ukulele Festival at Kapiolani Park Bandstand, a Waikiki summer tradition, is the largest ukulele festival in the world. The free concert features guest artists and an orchestra of over 800 students.
AUGUST: The annual Duke’s Oceanfest honors the legacy of Duke Kahanamoku’s life through a variety of lifestyle sports activities including surfing, paddleboard racing, swimming, beach volleyball, tandem surfing, and more. Duke spread his love of surfing by teaching the sport to others around the world. Duke’s Oceanfest, a non-profit organization, provides resources to other organizations with hopes to enrich the lives of Hawaiian youth.
SEPTEMBER: The Annual Waikīkī Ho‘olaule‘a beachfront street festival, hosted by Aloha Festivals, showcases Hawaiian culture through endless cuisine and craft booths. The festival also features music and other forms of entertainment on four stages. The festival ends with the Annual Floral Parade which ceremoniously debuts all aspects of Hawaiian culture in a colorful march throughout Waikiki.
NOVEMBER: The Waikiki Holiday Parade commemorates the Pearl Harbor Attacks honoring all the military heroes and survivors.
DECEMBER: Eager to make your visit a little more active? Participate in the annual Honolulu Marathon. There’s no better place to run than paradise!
*Things change, so please check in with the organizers of these events to make sure they are still happening.