Kauai’s North Shore

Kauai's North Shore Beach & Tropical

So you are coming to Kauai.   Where to stay?   I’ve been here for more than 18 years finding and recommending places to stay for visitors all that time.   I often hear “doesn’t it rain all the time on the North Shore?”  Or “I’m coming for a week and I want to stay 2 days on the South, 2 days on the East, 2 days. Etc”.  Or “I want to Golf, that’s all!”       If you are coming to Kauai and it’s your first time, here’s some info on Kauai’s North Shore. 

The Garden Isle Kauai Tropical Green

Tropical Green Kauai

Tropical, Lush, Green

The North Shore of Kauai is the most tropical, lush and green.     It truly is quite gorgeous.   If you ever saw Jurassic Park, that’s the Na Pali Coast as they come into the island where the park is…. and there’s a reason Steven Spielberg chose Kauai, not Oahu or any of the other islands.    The interior really is that wild and untouched.   So is the Na Pali Coast.    In fact 95% of the island is undeveloped.    That’s quite something. 

If you are drawn to wild nature, out of the way places, seclusion & peace and quiet, you are probably going to want to stay on Kauai’s North Shore.   Just driving along the highway the tropical scenery is beautiful and the views magnificent.  There’s lush foliage everywhere and massive mountains that tower over the stunning beaches once you get to Princeville and Hanalei.   

Bird of Paradise Kauai Beach

Bird of Paradise over Kalihiwai Beach, North Shore Kauai

If you love botanical gardens, we have Na ‘Aina Botanical Gardens in Kilauea and Limahuli Gardens almost at the end of the road.   You can read more about them in my Kauai Guide and in my post on Kauai’s Enchanting Botanical Gardens.   es, it does rain more on the north shore than other parts of the island… BUT most of that rain happens overnight, early morning, late at night for most of the year.    And the North Shore is the most lush and tropical just because of that rain. 

…but doesn’t it rain all the time on the North Shore?

Noooo!!!!     I have often been asked this question by people who have never been to Kauai over the years.   I have often replied….’I grew up in the UK, I’m not gong to live somewhere where it rains all the time!”  So here’s the scoop on rain on the North Shore :  Yes, if does rain more on the North shore than anywhere else on island BUT  most of that rain happens overnight, early morning and then the sun comes out!    That’s why it’s so lush.   That’s why the north shore has so many magnificent rainbows.   If it rains all day.. or for more than one day, it’s usually because there’s a front moving through the island and it’s raining everywhere on island.   It tends to rain more on the North Shore in Jan, Feb, sometimes March.   Those are the rainy months.    I often say to people that we North Shore people are generally sitting around in December wishing it would rain… particularly over Xmas when we want it to feel more “Christmassy”.   But otherwise, rain is limited… it rains at 6am and the sun comes out.    

North Shore Beaches

Well there’s more beaches on the North Shore than anywhere else; 21 in fact and all of them stunning.    From Ke’e Beach to Moloa’a, from Anini to Hanalei,  just more gorgeous beaches   Also because there are so many of them there are less people on them.   So less crowded beaches.   Quite a few are secluded, which I personally prefer.  There are great surfing beaches like Rock Quarries and great beaches for toddlers like Anini and great all round beaches for the entire family like Hanalei.   Then there’s the Romantic beaches like Secret beach.    ‘Nuff said!

Kauai North Shore Sunset

Sunset over Secret Beach Kauai

North Shore Towns

Hanalei is often described as the most authentic Hawaiian town on island and it’s certainly the most hip.   Cute boutique shops, cafes & upscale cuisine but mixed alongside long time Hawaiian shops & cool places to sign up for activities or kayak the river.    Also cool because you can wander from the beach to the town in 5 minutes.    Great place to hang out.     The drive from Hanalei to the end of the road at Ke’e beach is the prettiest drive on the island.  North Shore is for those who want seclusion.

Kilauea town has little areas where shops are gathered together.   Kilauea Crossings by the highway has the Healthy Hut and Paco Taco’s and then there’s the “Stone Buildings” near the Post office; again boutique shops, hip cafes and juice bars.   

Princeville has the big Foodland, banks but also some cool shops too.   More “touristy” as it were, but it’s also very tastefully done (apart from the ridiculous Roman looking statue on the fountain as you turn into Princeville Road (Ka Haku).   Whose idea was that?   Just saying.   We’re in Hawaii, not Europe! 


The North Shore has the most expensive real estate on island; most of the truly luxury homes are here.   Including the land bought by the owner of that social media page, you know the one.     This has the affect of making most of the vacation rentals and resorts more expensive too, but it is possible to find reasonable places to stay.    I have some tips on that in my guide.

There are cute cottages on acreage up the road from the beach,  beautiful homes overlooking the bays, luxury homes on Hanalei bay or Anini beach or down in Haena and condos in Princeville that are more reasonably priced.    There’s something for everyone on Kauai’s North Shore.

Hanalei Vacation Home

Vacation Home in Hanalei

If you are looking at coming over the Xmas holidays, book way in advance.    Kauai gets very booked up over the two weeks over Xmas and I often spend time a month before the holidays.

Kauai’s North Shore exemplifies what many people envision about Hawaii :  gorgeous white sand beaches with aquamarine water with Palm trees and tropical greenery framing the picture.   It’s where memories are made.

See you there!

About the Author

Kauai Advisor ~ Francesca Azuremare ~ has lived on Kauai for 22 years. I feel blessed to live in such a magical, beautiful place. Over the years I have helped thousands of people find the perfect place to stay on Kauai whilst also advising on everything from places to propose to the best Na Pali boat ride. Now I'm sharing that information here. It's the Hawaiian way. Aloha!