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We are coming to Kauai the second week of Sept., and for the first time, are staying in Princeville. What are some good places to eat? Some for special splurge, a good breakfast place, and some good cheap eats as well? We're bringing friends who have never been before, and will be there for 6 days. We have some health issues and can't do serious hiking, but want to do a variety of outdoor activities, hiking snorkeling, enjoying some of our favorite beaches. Planning a sea tour, and noticed many people suggested Napali Catamaran. We have always departed from the Port Allen or Kikiaola Harbor, and aren't familiar with companies that have a northern departure, which we prefer, due to our location this time. Any suggestions? We have so many things we want to do down south, that I hope I haven't made a mistake booking us so far away. My husband keeps saying that it's not so far away, but I remember what a slow drive it is, and we'll probably be making it several times. We want them to see Waimea Canyon, and do the Alikai Swamp hike, which will be a challenge, but really want to do it one more time before my knees give up. Also want them to hike at least part of the Kalalau trail. Anyone want to weigh in on activity suggestions or a concise schedule to not waste so much of our days traveling back and forth?

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1. Re: Princeville

Princeville to Poipu isn't that far but it will take you a good hour to a 1 hr 15 minutes. To Waimea Canyon is 2 hours.

We have stayed in Princeville both times to Kauai. For me it is one of the most beautiful places to stay. It is what you picture Hawaii to be. I would think hiking trails on the North Shore, expecially NaPali (at Kee Beach) would be awesome.

I wouldn' t discount any hikes on the north shore and when you get to Princeville you will see what I mean.

If you haven't seen this site, it seems to have a lot of info on Hiking trails.


I would also suggest visiting the Lighthouse Wildlife and Refuge in Kilauea, Kayak the river, and drive to Kee Beach and plan your stops along the way (beaches, snorkeling, etc). Since you like to hike go to the Queens Bath (may not be classified as a hike), Its a beautiful setting.

Southern California
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2. Re: Princeville

Queen's Bath can be very dangerous, do a search on here, plenty of other good beaches to see. The Limahuli Gardens are beautiful and worthwhile if you have the time. You can do a self-guided tour and there are beautiful views of the coast from up there.

Kauai, Hawaii
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3. Re: Princeville

Princeville is september will be fantastic.....as you have read by the posters who have stayed up there,, it is very special.

Also, it is a very nice walk along the 2 mile length of Hanalei Bay, with stunning ocean and mountain views. Spend the day and enjoy, or just do a walk a about.

When you do the Alakia Swamp hike, you can combo the Waimea Canyon, and Kalalau Valley lookouts, you might think about a very early morning to head up there.

Eating out:

Early Breakfast at the WAKE UP CAFE.....then have the rest of the day to explore, and have fun. makai side, Hanalei Town, across from the parking lot at the old school house shopping center.

Late Lunch/Early dinner:

Kalypso....informal , fun, friendly, good food and drinks. We like this place a lot since it suits our kick back style.

Kalypso in Hanalei Town is also across the road from the old school house.

Medeteraian Gormet: Near Tunnels beach, between Hanalei Town and Ke'e beach at the end of the road. Also good food, a bit more upscale that Kalypso...but we still go there for lunch after snorkeling or hiking. One time for dinner.

All good stuff, and some nights they have entertainment, and one night a week a luau .

Old School House Shopping Center:

Neat shops, surf shop, tropoical tantrums ladies shop, art gallery and hanalei Gormet....( basic food and drink, but also good ).

Hawaiki Crafts from the pacific islands ( and museum ) sort of...my favorite shop to browze and enjoy. Very friendly and interesting crafts.

The only store on the whole island that I actually enjoy going into, since I am a die hard anti shopper. Well worth a stop.

Others will have additional suggestions...

Have a grand time


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4. Re: Princeville

The north shore will provide you plenty of enjoyment and your desire to drive all over the rest of the island may very well dissipate.

In order:


Cheap Eats (well for Hawaii anyway) - Ono's Char Burger (about 20 minutes drive from Princeville but good burgers and shakes .... don't eat outside there, eat in your vehicle or bring it back to your place); Federico's (reasonably good Tex-Mex especially if you stick to the tacos and the enchiladas and is right in Princeville); Pau Hana Pizza and Kilauea Bakery (very good bakery and pizzeria as well as soups .... about 10 minutes from Princeville)

Good Food - The Tavern (from the same chef who brought the world Roy's Hawaiian cuisine .... very good food - right near Princeville); Lighthouse Bistro (10 minutes away); Mediteranean Gourmet (right past Hanalei ... about 15 minute drive away)

Things to do: Drive to Kee Beach and Tunnels Beach (perhaps the two nicest beaches on Kauai ... great snorkeling on both); Drive and walk on the plethora of other north shore beaches most of which are gorgeous ; I love to drive to the Kilauea Lighthouse overlook - beautiful views and lots of marine birds (and perhaps monk seals). As already indicated, tons of hiking (including the beginning of the Napali coast trails) ; Take the Napali Catamaran tour ... very nicely done (the morning tour is the best) and a very good company which will take you into the sea caves and provide you with spectacular views ; If it can fit in the budget take a helicopter tour of the island (Kauai is perhaps the best island to splurge on this because so much of the island is not accessible) Jack Harter is my favorite for this and Blue Hawaiian is next.

Kauai, Hawaii
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5. Re: Princeville

The 1st thing to decide is probably how many of the 6 days you'll plan on driving South. Are 2 of the 6 arrival/departure days?

Once for sure for the Waimea hike, but beyond that it's a tough call. If you're not too tired after the Alakai, you could go pick something from Poipu/Lawai/Koloa, but the Mahaulepu walk may be too much for a day.

I think Napali Cat from the North is a good choice, but leaving from Port Allen would give you a chance to get to see some things you missed on the Waimea day (like the great Mahaulepu walk).

That leaves you with 4 days. Not sure if I'd go east of the Lighthouse for any of those. I'd probably go to Wailua for 1 day to drive up Kuamo'o Road to see 'Opaeka'a Falls turnoff and hike the easy Kuilau Ridge trail at the top of the road. Sleeping Giant is also a worthwhile moderate hike in the area, but I give Kuilau the nod.

Another good option from the Kuamo'o turnoff is to rent kayaks and go up the Wailua River a ways before a fairly easy hike to "secret" falls. Going from Hanalei to Hideaways Beach is another good kayak option from the North, I'd do the guided tour if you're not comfortable in a kayak. Another plus for heading to Kapaa/Wailua is to eat. My Favorite is Monico's.

Only real "musts" on your remaining north shore days are swimming and relaxing at as many of these beaches you can fit in: Ke'e, Haena/Tunnels, Lumahai, Hanalei, Anini, Kalihiwai and Rock Quarry. I left out the excellent Secret Beach and Hideways because the trails down are a little trickier.

Be careful at Queens Bath. Besides the surf, lots twist an ankle lava rock hopping along the ledge. There is a nice little waterfall along the trail before the lava rocks that's worth the trip alone provided there's a spot in the lot.

The other "must" you mentioned is part of the Kalalau Trail. Not sure how you'd do on the 4 mile round trip to Hanakapiai, but at least try to hoof it up to the 1/2 mile marker.

Spend as many mornings as you can walking Hanalei Bay, one of my life's great simple pleasures. I don't have any breakfast recs this side of Kapa'a. If you can't handle the french toast at the Wake Up don't blame me.

A splurge dinner to me would be Mediteranean Gourmet, Postscards, BARacuda, or Hanalei Dolphin sushi - Kauai Grill is out of my league.

My 4 local North Shore favs for lunch are Kilauea Fish market (Ahi Wrap), Village Snack Shop (Chili Pepper Chicken), Pat's Taqueria (carne asada taco) and Hanalei Taro & Juice (Wawaiian Plate).

Don't worry about having too much planned, but you might want to book the boat when you're sure of the company, boat, time and day that works best for your group - they tend to fill up quick in September.

Kauai is especially great in September - have fun!

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6. Re: Princeville

Wow! Thanks so much for the information. It always helps to get another person's perspective. We have a lot of things that we always do on Kauai, but wanted to hit the best hightlights for our friends who haven't been, and may not go again.

I loved seeing Queen's Bath, but wouldn't go there again on a bet--too slippery for us balance-challenged, even when there hadn't been rain that day we went. I am almost bone-on-bone on my left knee, so can't do anything steep. I told our friends that they had to at least hike up Kalalau to see the view above Ke'e Beach. I don't think I can do the 2-mile hike anymore, but my husband sure wants to.

You all have given me lots of things to think about, and I am making notes for myself (the old brain doesn't remember like it used to). Thanks for the suggestions. I feel better about our lodging,now, so I appreciate the encouragement.

At first I was surprised to have so many responses so quickly, then I realized that there are a lot of people who get as excited about Kauai as I do, and want to share it! Thanks, all.

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7. Re: Princeville

I don't recommend Queen's Bath in Sept but maybe a walk down to Hideaways instead.

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8. Re: Princeville

If you'll be on island on a Saturday, check out the Hanalei Farmer's Market at 9:30 a.m. Lots of beautiful produce as well as local crafts.

We have not yet managed to see the McMasters Slack Key Concert but it's been on our list every time - Friday and Sunday afternoon at the Hanalei Community Center.

We loved North Shore Grindz for burgers - it's in the Chevron station next to Foodland. I didn't love Duane's Ono Char - much too long a wait time and the cheese on my burger was shredded, not sliced, and not melted at all, which was a very weird texture. Get a Makai card to save money on groceries at the Foodland.

Just try to time your drive south so you're not headed through Kapa'a at rush hour. Kuilau Ridge Trail at Keahou Arboretum is a pretty gentle hike - we did it with a toddler and his grandparents. Lovely inland views and a pleasant picnic area ~1 mile in.

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9. Re: Princeville

Sorry I never responded to your question. We will be there for 6 full days. The last day we leave, but it's a 10:30pm flight. You gave me some great suggestions, but if you have anything else, I'd love to hear it.

Frisco, Texas
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10. Re: Princeville

I normally wouldn't post my own trip report again, but you asked a lot of questions that I wrote about. Take a look...