First trip to Kauai? So, Where to stay on Kauai ~ North Shore. Well here’s the thing. I have lived Kauai for 22 years so allow me to offer my humble opinion. Many people when they come to Kauai for the first time try and split the time up between the North and South Shore. 4 days here, 3 days there or a variation thereof. Some even think it’s a good idea to stay 2 days North, 2 days East, etc. No! Don’t do that! Where to stay on Kauai depends on a few factors. Here’s my take on where to stay North Shore.
If you want the most beautiful, stunning, lush, green and gorgeous part of the island. That’s the North Shore. It also has 22 beaches starting off with Anahola Bay at the beginning of the North Shore and ending with Ke’e beach; the gateway to the fabled Na Pali Coast. But where to stay on Kauai ~ North Shore?
There’s Princeville which has the Hanalei Bay Resort, the Westin and now the newly opened after (how many years refurbishment? I think it was at least 3) “1 Hotel”. But there are many condo complexes and private homes to stay in there too. Princeville has easy access to Hanalei and Anini beaches, plus Secret beach and more. If you like a “clean” slightly resort style, this is for you. Take a look at Princeville vacation rentals here.
Princeville has a small shopping complex with Foodland, 2 banks, a gas station a few restaurants and boutique shops. It also has a fountain at the entrance which harkens to some fountain you might find in Italy; very Roman, or is it Greek? In any case, it’s a bit out of place on Kauai!
Hanalei town is the cutest most authentic town on the island; full of shops & boutique stores and cafes/restaurants. If you are staying in Hanalei you can walk to the bay and to town. But it’s more expensive too. However, it’s a true “Kauai” experience and you’ll love it. There’s a few places that I recommend staying in in Hanalei here.
Here’s someone enjoying The Pier at Hanalei
Of course, Hanalei boasts Hanalei Bay, about which more than a few songs have been written: the archetypal half moon bay, quite stunning. Although we all call it Hanalei Bay, there are several beaches there: The pier, Grandpa’s, Pine Trees and more. Read my post on Hanalei here.
From Hanalei to the end of the road at Ke’e beach, there’s Haena and Wainiha. Stay here if you want to just be right by a gorgeous beach, but be aware it’s a trek of sorts (20 mins minimum or 30 depending on where you are) to get back up to shops and cafes in Hanalei/Princeville. Tunnels beach is famous and gorgeous and many try to stay as near there as possible. Read about Kauai beaches here: and check out the blog for more info on Kauai’s beaches – or download the guide!
Thankfully there are a good number of rentals that have vacation rentals licenses still along Anini beach or near there. Anini is my second favorite beach on the island and perfect for young children, honeymooners, families. It’s two and a half miles long so you can always find a stretch where’s there’s a couple of hundred yards between you and the next person. (My personal idea of a great beach!). There are some gorgeous homes on the beach or across the small road – heaven. Definitely one of the best places “Where to stay on Kauai ~ North Shore”.
There are still a few legal vacation rentals around the Kilauea /Kalihiwai area – these are rentals that were grandfathered in before the huge county crackdown on individual rentals. It’s a pity that happened. The reason given was to make way for housing for local people but that’s not what happened. There’s a housing crisis on Kauai for local people, mainly because of the number of vastly wealthy people who have moved over buying multi million homes – you know the story. It is in this area that you can find the most secluded spots: cottages or homes on 3 – 5 acres where you have real privacy.
Moloa’a is the most southern part of the North Shore and there are still some rentals along Moloa’a bay; a lovely location if you can find something right for you. Then you have easy access to my number one beach on Kauai: Larsen’s beach. Moloa’a is also home to many of Kauai’s organic farms including Moloa’a Organica, the largest Organic farm on Kauai and Wootens, probably the oldest. You can read about Organic Kauai here.That’s my hammock one day at Larsen’s. Secluded and just what a beach should be.
If you are the true outdoors type; if you love beauty, beaches, hiking and a certain amount of seclusion, then the North Shore is the place for you. Also, I do offer a service whereby I find you a rental (even not on my site here) as the “coconut wireless” is a real thing.
Note: You MUST have a car on Kauai! Over the years, many people have told me they were not renting a car because they were staying either in Hanalei or Kapa’a and could walk. Well if you are in Hanalei you can walk to the beach and town, but you can’t walk to all the other stunning beaches! Same thing in Kapa’a, so do make sure you rent a car.