Kauai's North Shore

Everything you need to know about visiting Kauai's North Coast.

While Princeville’s signature hotel remains closed for renovations, the rest of the 9,000-acre 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, 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, or 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. Across the road, Princeville Ranch Adventures provides opportunities for horseback riding, ziplining, hiking, off-roading and kayaking. And while only the Princeville Makai Golf course is open to the public, it 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 leading to the start of the rugged Napali Coast.

History: 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. It’s set to reopen in early 2022 as 1 Hotel Hanalei Bay, a sustainable, luxury wellness resort.

Feature Photo: Courtesy of Westin Princeville Ocean Resort

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.

You so deserve a vacation. 

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