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Trip Report

Newmarket, ON...
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Trip Report

First, thanks to everyone who contributes to Trip Advisor. Your advice and information were invaluable to our trip.

We spent two weeks on Kaua’i, the first week in a cottage at Hanelei and the second in a condo at Wailua. We found the north shore absolutely compelling and found ourselves returning many times during our second week.

In our minds, nothing elsewhere could come close to matching the natural beauty or vibe of the north shore. Our first week we drove no further east than The Common Ground Restaurant just east of Kilauea and as far west as Ke’e Beach. So much is available in such a short drive or walk. In comparison, while staying on the East Shore, driving was an absolute necessity and the sense of shared community and wonderful natural environment (can’t compare any beach to Ke’e, Tunnels, Hanalei or Anini in our minds) could not compare to what we experienced up north. As an example, one day we decided to visit Poipu Beach since it was so highly recommended. We didn’t even drop our chairs and towels and decided to make a bee-line for Anini Beach. Crazy, perhaps, but the difference; lack of crowds, expansive beach and really friendly folk made the drive so worth while. After that experience, we decided that only booked activities (Captain Andy’s, Waimea Canyon, Smith Family Luau ... ouch!) would draw us south again or for that matter stay in the east. Biased perhaps, but the north had a hook in us.

For some recommendations based on our reviews, here is our list:


Some tips:

1. Go early to Tunnels Beach not only to score a decent parking spot but to take advantage of the outstanding snorkeling before the divers head out.

2. Go early to Ke’e Beach and hit the Kalalua Trail early. Even the 4 mile hike to Hanakapi’ai Beach is taxing and be sure not to rush. The views are beautiful. We took some food to eat on the beach as well and be sure to take plenty of water. Make sure you have good footwear. We both wore lightweight Columbia hiking shoes and they were perfect. You’ll regret flip-flops, which we saw!

3. Jump from the Hanalei Pier but ask the kids there about safety. They are far better at determining tide levels. Jump with them ... it is a blast. No pencil dives and certainly no head first dives. Watch the kids.

4. If you are into local music, listen to Kaua’i Public Radio and go online to the Kaua’i Music Scene website for locations and musicians. The variety is amazing! The Tahiti Nui is the musical hotspot in Hanalei. Also look at the Oasis in Kapa'a for times when Aldrine Geurrrero is playing.

5. If you are heading to Lihue, check out the Kaua’i Museum which is great. Kapa’a has a great cafe called Heminways at the north end of town.

6. The Kilauea Lighthouse is a great visit (open at 10.00 AM) and the Kilauea Bakery is fantastic. When we were there, there were some homes selling fruit from their front yards. Don’t pass up the opportunity!

7. Queen’s Bath is unique but heed the warnings. The day we were there, the ocean was reasonably calm but one wave did make it’s way through the opening to the bath and tossed us around a bit. Would not want to be in there when something broke over the shelf.

8. If you are planning a trip to the Waimea Canyon, Chuck Blay has an amazing day long escorted tour with a pickup at the Poipu Beach parking lot. Highly recommended.


9. Our last tip may seem presumptuous but is not meant to be. Don’t rush around, rather give yourself lots of time and opportunities to meet other tourists but more importantly, the locals and the employees and musicians in restaurants and bars. Without a doubt, our most memorable times were conversations with them.

Hope this helps and enjoy Hanalei.


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1. Re: Trip Report

Thanks for your TR. I read your reviews and am right with you on many--in particular, the slack key concert, Smith's luau, Tahiti Nui, and Kalypso's. I'm putting Kauai Ono on my list for next year. We just got back a week ago--also stayed part of our time at a cottage on Hanalei Bay--nothing better!

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2. Re: Trip Report

Welcome to the "We Love The North Shore" club! I know JUST what you mean. To some its hard to explain. You told it well.

Healy, Alaska
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for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
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3. Re: Trip Report

Ah, I totally understand about the northshore - hooked me from the first as well and have never stayed anywhere else on Kauai because it is very addictive . . . thanks for the great report - took a glance at your reviews and had never heard about the Kauai Ono before - that sounds fabulous and a must do the next time I am on Kauai. Mahalo! :)

Edited: 10 August 2013, 01:47
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4. Re: Trip Report

Our experience on Kauai is limited in comparison to the above posters.........three days in Oct. 2012 and nine days this past January.........but the second trip was booked before we spent the three days because I knew we would have to get back there asap. And yes, while we enjoyed exploring the entire island, it was the north shore that sang to us and called us back for eight nights next April. As long as I have a trip planned for Kauai, I will be happy........even if the countdown is longer than I prefer. Thanks for your trip report and advice for folks. It's very helpful. Deb

Milwaukie, Oregon
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5. Re: Trip Report

Anini Beach and Kilauea Bakery are high on my list of favorite places. Thanks for bringing pleasant memories of both to the forefront of my mind.

Manhattan Beach...
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for Los Angeles, Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach
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6. Re: Trip Report

Thank you for sharing your feelings on Kauai. Nice trip report and tips.

Princeville, Hawaii
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7. Re: Trip Report

Thanks for your report. The North Shore is special but then again so is the whole island.

Destination Expert
for Maui
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8. Re: Trip Report

Thanks for sharing! Know exactly how you feel! Our first time on Kauai I was depressed when we moved from the north to the south. Although there are a few things we enjoy in the south and west, the north speaks to us as well and we love it. I know there are just as many south lovers, but that's what makes us all unique and not all in the same area.

Houston, Texas
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9. Re: Trip Report

Good trip report,! We're going next year and your reviews gave me one great ideas.

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10. Re: Trip Report

Great TR! I'll be there next week and you've given me some great ideas for things to do. Thank you!