Princeville, Kauai Travel Guide
If you’re visiting Kauai there’s a good chance you’ll stay in the popular resort town of Princeville on the island’s northern shore. The town is known for its upscale accommodations and amenities from golf courses to botanical gardens. There’s also plenty of natural beauty to take in around Princeville including beaches, hikes, and other activities such as snorkeling.
Here, we’ll give you everything you need to know to plan an excellent stay in Princeville. And if you’re just looking for a few things to do around town, we’ll detail the best attractions nearby, as well. Be sure to check out our North Shore Driving Tour if you're looking for more guidance, as well!
Things to do in Princeville
There’s plenty to do and see in and around Princeville. No matter what style of vacation you’re looking for, be it relaxing, adventuring, shopping, or all three, there are tons of options to choose from!
Jason Carnegie / Unsplash
Hanalei Bay and Waioli Beach Park
Waioli Beach Park stretches across two miles of beach coast and lava rock ridges just to the west of Princeville in Hanalei. During the summer months from May to October, this is a great place to swim and relax. During the winter months, the waves get quite large which can make swimming somewhat dangerous, but this crescent bay is a great place to soak up some sun all year round.
Puu Poa Beach
Just across the Ka’apoko Stream from Waioli Beach Park, you’ll find the first beach within the boundaries of Princeville. Puu Poa is conveniently located near two popular resorts, the Princeville Resort Kauai and Hanalei Bay Resort.
JordanHipwell / Flickr / CC-BY-ND-2.0
Hideaways Beach is slightly more remote than the previous two beaches, but still right in the middle of Princeville. You’ll find parking for this picturesque white-sand beach along Ka Haku Road near the Puu Poa Condos. Parking can fill up fast, so get there early if you’re driving.
If you’re looking to escape the crowds, sea lodge beach is a bit small but doesn’t receive nearly as many visitors as others in Princeville. Getting to Sealodge Beach can be kind of tricky, and if you aren’t staying at the Sealodge Condominiums, finding parking can be even trickier. Your best bet is to take an Uber, Lyft or taxi to the end of Kamehameha Road and trek through the access hike by “building A” of the Sealodge complex.
Wyllie’s is yet another beautiful white sand beach in Princeville surrounded by lovely tropical foliage. You can find it near the end of Anini Road across from Nakea Kauai Vacation rentals. You can also access this beach via a somewhat muddy, steep hike that begins near the Westin Resort.
If you’re looking to camp on the coast, Anini Beach as an adjacent beach park campground with facilities like bathrooms, showers, pavilions, and picnic tables. The campground is closed from Tuesday at 10 am to Wednesday at noon for maintenance. You’ll need a permit, which can currently only be acquired via mail--information here (online permits coming soon). Camping costs $3 per adult per night.
Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson
Each of the beaches listed above have excellent snorkeling. In addition, there are a couple of other wonderful places in Princeville to take in the tropical sea life of Kauai. Namely, Queens Bath is a beautifully unique tidepool created by a sinkhole in lava rocks. This area also features a small waterfall, which gives the landscape a distinct tropical fairytale vibe.
The entire Princeville coast is lined with hikes for you to choose from, many of which are unnamed. Most of the beaches have associated hikes, for instance. In addition, you can check out the Beach Path which is located near the center of Princeville. Old Club Med Trail begins on Hanalei Plantation Road and features an awesome lookout over the town and Ka’a Poko Stream.
Alternatively, just across Kuhio Highway 560, you’ll find the Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge, which contains several awesome hikes through lush tropical terrain. Along the Okolehao Bridge trail inside the refuge, you’ll get awesome views of the entire Princeville-Hanalei area. Powerline Trail at the end of Kapaka Street treks along the refuge’s southeastern boundary, as well.
Hanalei Valley Lookout
If you want to see views of the Princeville-Hanalei Valley, but aren’t looking to hike, you can drive up to the Hanalei Valley Lookout. The lookout is located right along Kuhio Highway near the Princeville Center and North Shore General Store.
pdxjeff / Flickr; CC BY-SA 2.0
You can do both ocean kayaking and river kayaking in Princeville. The Ka’a Poko Stream offers an awesome trip, which can go one about as long as you want since it stretches down through the entire Hanalei Wildlife Refuge. On the other hand, you can also kayak along the scenic coast of Princeville. Kayak Hanalei and Princeville Surfski offer rentals.
There are two excellent golf courses in Princeville, the Princeville Makai Golf Course to the east and Princeville Prince Golf Course to the west. The Makai course offers views of the coast and has better facilities like locker rooms, so it is generally a bit higher rated.
If you’re looking for a bit of adventure, the Princeville Ranch offers kayaking, ziplining, horseback riding, and ATV tours of the surrounding area. This is a great way to get away from crowds and see some of the natural beauty of Kauai, especially if it’s your first time on the island.
Princeville Botanical Gardens
The Princeville Botanical Garden is an amazing attraction with more than just surreal beauty to offer. Featuring natural and endangered species of plant life, these gardens are carefully cultivated and curated. The Princeville Botanical Gardens also offer a guided tour which includes a chocolate tasting experience with samples collected and processed within the garden’s facilities. Along the 3-hour tour, you’ll also be offered fruit and honey tasting. The experience costs $76 per person.
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Princeville is an extremely upscale area. As such, it is also home to some delicious eateries. Fortunately, there are also a few affordable options within the Princeville boundaries and many more just to the west in Hanalei.
For coastal dining, you’ll mostly be looking at resort restaurants such as the Makana Terrace which features Hawaiian cuisine. On the other end of town, you can check out Nanea Restaurant and Bar. You won’t find fresher food than Kauai Ono, the farm-to-table experience where almost everything you’ll eat is grown or raised on the establishment’s property. The five-course meal at Kauai Ono costs $70 per person.
For more affordable options check out the Princeville Center, where you’ll find Italian, Hawaiian, Thai, and subs.
Princeville Shopping Center
If you’re looking for a bit of retail therapy, you can check out the Princeville Center for a few boutiques. These include Island Soap & Candle Works, Azure Island Clothing, Shell Jewelry, and a Hawaiian music store.
Natalie Fewell / Unsplash
Princeville Resorts and Hotels
Most of the accommodations in Princeville are upscale resorts. Princeville Resort Kaui is one of the most luxurious options on the entire island. The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort is also very nice. For more cost-efficient options, you can check out the Elegant Cliffs Resort, Alii Kai Resort, or Pure Kauai Inc Hotel.
In general, Hawaii has two seasons. There is a dry season that corresponds with summer in terms of temperature and precipitation, which occurs from May to October. The wet winter season is from November to April. Average highs range from 82 to 84 degrees in the summer and 78 to 80 degrees in the winter. Princeville and the northern part of the island generally get quite a bit more rain than southern areas such as Poipu.
Getting around Princeville
Princeville is located right in the middle of the island’s northern shore. If you’re planning to stay within the Princeville area, Uber and Lyft are fully capable of getting you where you want to go. Keep in mind that these rideshare services are dependent on-demand, so getting around at peak hours such as sunny weekends or clear nights might cost you a bit extra. You can check estimated fares here. Getting to Princeville from the Lihue airport will run you about $50 to $60.
If you’re planning on leaving the Princeville area, rideshares can also get you to other major towns pretty effectively. If you’re on your way to a more remote attraction, however, you may want to plan around booking a rental vehicle. Rideshares can probably get you there, however, you may have some difficulty getting back to your accommodations from these less populated areas.
However you choose to get around, we at Shaka Guide are certain that your stay in Princeville will be memorable, to say the least.
Visiting Kauai? Check out our four driving tours on the island!