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Driving north from the airport, the single highway that skirts the island ushers you through a transfiguration of environments. From the green and golden rolling foothills and trade wind-blown bluffs of the East Side, the North Shore slowly envelopes you with each mile marker passed. The air grows richer, the foliage denser, the mountains closer. Before you know it, the quintessential tropical paradise is laid before you as Hanalei Bay undulates with the changing tides.

The summer on the North Shore of Kauai invites warm, welcoming waters. Ideal for snorkeling, standup paddle boarding, kayaking or simply sun bathing, the gentle undercurrents of the ocean provide the perfect environment for family-friendly outings or adventurous excursions. Dolphins are often seen at select beaches, sea turtles graze around their favorite corals and a myriad of fish can be observed not far from shore.

The white sandy beaches that make Kauai so special are spread across the island, but the North Shore highlights some of the most diverse and unique. During the winter, when epic pacific swells and daring waves enter the area, you can watch the beaches change overnight, as the power of the ocean displays itself before your eyes. Whether you are here to relax in calm currents or surf big waves, always exercise caution when entering the ocean, as it is a powerful force that beckons awareness and respect.

Gorgeous views from Hanalei lookout overlooking taro fields

Just inland from the glistening ocean shore, quaint towns offer the perfect balance of nourishment, refreshment and island-style entertainment. Hanalei Town, for example contains a full spectrum of eateries from delicious local food trucks to five star restaurants. All within walking distance, you can shop at boutiques and local art galleries, try local foods, enjoy happy hour at a bar, cool down with shave ice, and rent gear for your next adventure.

Surrounded by staggering mountains and cascading waterfalls, this majestic North Shore of Kauai boasts some of Hawaii’s most stunning views. However, this beauty does not come without the reality of rain, which caters to the lush and vibrant landscape. The combination of warm weather, intermittent rain showers and insistent sunshine is what makes the North Shore special. It is also what makes the North Shore the land of rainbows!

Peter Paul and Mary experienced this magical land, and felt so moved by its beauty that they wrote the timeless tune Puff The Magic Dragon. It is a song about a dragon, who can still be seen living by the sea. And this dragon “frolicked in the autumn mist, in a land called Honahlee”… (Hanalei)! Ask any local as you stroll the beach of Hanalei and they will gladly point out Puff, as he rests his head at the mouth of the bay.

A few miles farther down the highway, at the very end of the road, and you will find yourself at the trailhead to the famous NaPali Coast hike to Kalalau Valley. You can hike the first two miles to Hanakapi’ai un-permitted, but the following nine miles that lead into Kauai’s most sacred valley require a permit from the Hawaii State DLNR.

If you aren’t up for the rigorous hike, you can still enjoy the reverent air of sunset at Ke’e beach, where people congregate from all over the world to bask in the last golden rays of a magical day in paradise.

For your Kauai North Shore vacation, find home-away-from-home in one of our gorgeous Princeville condos, villas or luxurious hales. The perfect location for all of your North Shore outings, Princeville is centrally located, accessible to multiple beaches and still just a short drive to the east, south and west side of the island. Or, experience the rare opportunity of staying in Hanalei Town, as our Dolphin Cottages are located right on the pristine Hanalei River and walking distance to all amenities and the beach.

Hanalei Dolphin Cottages