HAWAII — North Shore Kaua´i

The North Shore of Kaua´i is incredibly beautiful with its deep mountain valleys, white sand beaches and the superb Na Pali Coast. The biggest resort on this part of the island is Princeville with plenty of condominiums and golf courses to please those who like that sort of holiday. There are also a lot of unspoilt areas here as well, full of natural beauty. The North Shore is probably one of the wettest places on the island so you need to be prepared for that but with so much stunning scenery it seems a small price to pay especially with the sight of a stunning rainbow coming at the end of a brief shower.

The sights found here are:
Rock Quarry Beach
Na´aina Kai Botanical Gardens
Christ Memorial Episcopal Church
Kilauea Point
Kilauea Beaches
Princeville
Hanalei Valley
Hanalei
Hanalei Bay
Ha´ena
Ha´ena State Park
Na Pali Coast State Park

Rock Quarry Beach

Rock Quarry Beach
This is a good swimming and snorkelling beach when the water is calm with the best swimming on the left side of the beach and the best snorkelling on the right. You can access the beach from the dirt path off north Wailapa Road. It is inadvisable for any but small cars to negotiate the dirt road and be aware that it is rough.

Traveller's Tip

The Kilauea Stream enters this beach and if the water is murky it is inadvisable to swim and be aware that there have been shark sightings when the water from the stream is very heavy so be careful.
Na´aina Kai Botanical Gardens

Na´aina Kai Botanical Gardens
This garden is wonderful with its life-sized bronze statues and many rare and exotic plants as well as waterfalls, pools, topiaries, gazebos, a great maze, fountains, a Japanese teahouse, and paths made for wandering on. It has only been opened a short while and can only be visited on a guided tour from Tuesday to Friday. You will need to check the website for times and it is probably best to make a reservation. There are special tours for children and they can even have birthday parties in the special Children’s Garden.
For information about these gardens visit the website at: http://www.naainakai.org

Christ Memorial Episcopal Church

Christ Memorial Episcopal Church
This church built in 1935 is memorable because it is made of lava and the headstones in the churchyard are also of lava. The church also has some magnificent stain glass windows.
For information about the church visit the website at: http://christmemorialepiscopalchurch.com

Kilauea Point

Kilauea Point
Kilauea Point is a beautiful cliff area that is also a national wildlife refuge. It is 203 acres in size and contains a lighthouse dating from 1913. The Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge is one of the few Hawaiian wildlife refuges open to the public and it has beautiful views and hiking trails overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It is a great place to view humpback whales (season is from January to March), Hawaiian monk seals, spinner dolphins, and Hawaiian and migratory birds.
For information about the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge visit the website at: http://www.fws.gov/kilaueapoint

Secret Beach

Kilauea Beaches
A short distance from the town of Kilauea you will find Kalihiwai and Secret Beaches. You will need to turn off the highway at the first turnoff to Kalihiwai Road. These beaches are close to each other and have stretches of beautiful white sand and are popular with surfers and swimmers when the water is calm but be aware that there are no facilities. A little further up the highway you will come to the second turnoff to Kalihiwai Road which is not accessible from the other part of Kalihiwai Road because there is a river separating the two parts. From this road turn into ´Anini Road and you will come to ´Anini Beach Park. This beach is popular with swimmers especially those with children because the water is very calm.

Traveller's Tip

Snorkelling is popular at ´Anini Beach Park because there is a reef with plenty of fish. Be aware that there is a channel cutting across the reef that can create dangerous currents. The safest place to snorkel is the lagoon found west of the channel.
Princeville

Princeville
Princeville is basically one huge resort with lots of condo complexes, a hotel, a shopping centre, golf courses, restaurants and private homes. There are also some beautiful beaches here as well. The first one called Hideaways is near the Princeville Hotel at the bottom of the path at the public car park but the access is very steep and involves stairs and ropes. An easier one to access is Pu´u Poa Beach which is found between the Princeville Hotel and the mouth of the Hanalei River. Just be aware that both these beaches can have dangerous surf in the winter months. There is a pool that is made of lava rock which is found at the end of Punahele Road. You will need to park your car and head down a trail to the beach. Turn left and walk over the rocks to reach the pool known as Queen’s Bath.

Hanalei Valley

Hanalei Valley
Just past Priceville on Highway 56 you will come to the Hanalei Valley Lookout which provides one of the most famous views on Kauai. The valley is a spectacular patchwork panorama of taro fields. You can take a short but lovely drive into the valley by turning into ´Ohiki Road just after the Hanalei Bridge. The valley is a designated Wildlife Sanctuary rich in native water birds including the Hawaiian coot, duck and stilt. If you like hiking there is a trail — the Hanalei-Okolehau Trail which is around 8 kilometres but quite steep in parts. It is signposted and you reach it from the ´Ohiki Road. It will give you wonderful views of the Wildlife Sanctuary.
If you are interested in hiking and want to find out more about the different trails a good website is: https://hawaiitrails.ehawaii.gov

Hanalei

Hanalei
Hanalei is a pretty village found to the west of Princeville. It has a lovely setting of mountains in the background and a lovely bay at the front. In the middle of town is the Wai´oli Hui´ia Church and Mission House Museum which belonged to Hanalei’s first missionaries. The green wooden church can be visited and a Bible from 1868 that was printed in Hawaiian can be found on top of the organ. To the right of the church is the Mission Hall and behind is the Mission House where the original missionaries as well as many others lived. You can visit the Mission House which is well worth it because it gives you an insight into how the missionaries lived and most of the original furnishings are intact. Be aware that it is only open at certain times so look on the website to see the hours.
For information about the Wai´oli Hui´ia Mission House visit the website at: http://www.hawaiimuseums.org/mc/iskauai_waioli.htm

Hanalei Bay

Hanalei Bay
This beautiful crescent-shaped bay is one of the most scenic in Hawaii and is considered one of the best in the USA. Here you have a truly idyllic setting with mountains in the background and white sand and blue ocean. The area is still relatively undeveloped compared to others in Hawaii making it the ideal spot to swim, snorkel and unwind. There are several beaches found on the bay and the best of these is Hanalei Beach Park which is popular in summer for swimming and snorkelling and in winter for surfing. The eastern end of the park is a popular kayaking area because the mouth of the Hanalei River is found there. Another popular beach is Pinetrees where a lot of surfing championships are held. Waikoko Beach found on the western bend of Hanalei Bay is protected by a reef which makes it a shallow and calm beach but there are no facilities unlike the other beaches mentioned. A few kilometres out of Hanalei off the highway is the beautiful long beach of Lumaha´i which has wide sandy shores on one side and deep jungle on the other. It is great to look around the rocky outcrops of lava found here and if you are lucky you may spot some green sand made of olivine. This beach can become very rough in winter and it can be very windy. When you come back onto the highway from this beach and drive a short distance you will find some lookouts with fantastic views over Lumaha´i Beach.

Traveller's Tip

Lumaha´i is the beach that was used in the movie South Pacific where Mitzi Gaynor sang the song I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair.
Ha´ena Beach Park

Ha´ena
Ha´ena is a small beachfront town with very little modern development which makes it the perfect place to ‘get away from it all’. There are a few beautiful beaches found here as well such as Tunnels Beach which is great for diving and snorkelling in the summer months when the water is calm because of the large horseshoe-shaped reef found here. The name comes from the tubular winter surf break that occurs at the outer corner of the reef which makes this a beach for expert surfers only during the winter months. The next beach along is Ha´ena Beach Park which is another beautiful beach that is good for snorkelling and diving but mainly in the summer months because of the strong rips in the winter months. This is a great place to see turtles and dolphins. You will find Maniniholo Dry Cave across the road from Ha´ena Beach which you can walk into but be aware that it is damp and humid. Just past this cave is Limahuli Garden which is part of the National Tropical Botanical Garden which preserves and grows rare native plants. One of the highlights of the garden is the ancient terrace system, which is believed to be 700 to 1,000 years old. You can tour the garden by yourself or you can take a guided tour which you must reserve in advance. For information about this look at the website.
For information about the Limahuli Garden visit the following website at: http://ntbg.org/gardens/limahuli.php

Ha´ena State Park

Ha´ena State Park
This park is often referred to as the ‘end of the road’ because it is the end of Highway 56 and the start of the Na Pali Coast which is inaccessible to cars. Many people think of this area as Bali Hi as in the movie South Pacific and it is a truly beautiful spot and worthy of its Hawaiian name ‘Makana ’which means ‘gift’. The sunsets here are stunning. There are many beautiful places to visit within this state park and the first of these are two Wet Caves. One is called Waikapalae Cave which is off the main road on a short trail and the other is called Waikanaloa Cave and it is right on the road. The caves were made by ocean waves carving into the rock, back when the sea level was higher. These caves are too dangerous to explore except for experienced divers. The stunning Ke´e Beach is found in the park and this is a great place to snorkel with its huge variety of tropical fish as well as it being calm most of the time. During the summer months it is possible to snorkel here in the open ocean where there is a lot more to see including turtles but only do this if the water is very calm. If you take the path on the western side of the beach a short walk along the stone wall will take you to Kaulu Paoa Heiau. This special place is sacred to Hawaiians and it is where Kaua´i’s most sacred hula school was located. Night hula dances are still performed here at times.
For information about hiking in this area visit the following website at: http://www.hawaiistateparks.org/hawaiistateparks/hiking/kauai/index.cfm?hike_id=13

Traveller's Tip

If the tide is very low it is possible to walk out to the reef at Ke´e Beach and look into the tide pools. From this beach it is also possible to view the Na Pali Coast. Just walk down the beach to the right and look back at the cliffs or take a short walk around the point to the left.
Na Pali Coast State Park

Na Pali Coast State Park
This state park covers the area between the end of the road at Ke´e Beach and Polihale State Park. It is an area of outstanding beauty that is both rugged and seemingly untouched. The park is inaccessible by car but can be explored by hiking, kayaking, boating or by helicopter. The Kalalau Trail is the only land access and you will need a hiking permit for parts of it. For information about this hike and shorter hikes that you might like to try you can visit the website below. You can snorkel in the park and this is quite special because of the clear and unpolluted water as well as the variety of marine life. You are allowed to camp in the park but you will need a permit for this which you can obtain on the website below.
For information about hiking in this area visit the following website at: http://www.hawaiistateparks.org/hawaiistateparks/hiking/kauai/index.cfm?hike_id=13
For information about camping in this area visit the following website at: http://www.hawaiistateparks.org/parks/kauai/napali.cfm

Traveller's Tip

If you’re not into hiking then another way to visit this coastline is by sea or air. There are many tour companies that have tours to this area and some of these can be found on the Official Tourism Site for Hawaii.
The website for boat tours in this area on The Official Tourism Site for Hawaii is found at: http://www.gohawaii.com/au/kauai/guidebook/topics/boating-on-kauai
The website for air tours in this area on The Official Tourism Site for Hawaii is found at: http://www.gohawaii.com/au/kauai/plan-a-trip/activities/kauai-sky-adventures