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Trip Report

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Newmarket, ON...
posts: 374
reviews: 41
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.


Seattle Washington
posts: 804
reviews: 2
11. Re: Trip Report

I enjoyed reading your TR as your descriptions describe exactly why I also love staying in Hanalei. It is such a special community along with drop dead gorgeous scenery!

I read your reviews and thought they were right on. We have rented the house in front of the Plantation Cottage with our adult kids and thought the cottage looked charming!

Moorpark, California
Destination Expert
for Kauai, Catalina Island
posts: 12,916
reviews: 46
12. Re: Trip Report

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

Well said! I'm one of those folks that loves the entire island equall. We tend to stay on the south shore more often because of business (my husband has a customer at Port Allen and Lihue). The one time we did not go to the island on business, we stayed in Princeville the majority of the time. The island is truly magical!

Modesto, California
posts: 3
reviews: 11
13. Re: Trip Report

Thank you for the post Bob. I'm planning a trip next summer for a party of six. How was your cottage? I'm having a hard time narrowing down a place. I love the jumping off the pier suggestion. I'll be traveling with two teenage boys and they would love this. I might just try it too.

New York City
posts: 3
reviews: 14
14. Re: Trip Report

Just got back from a 12 day trip to Kaua in Oct. 2013i. Your recommendations were spot on, especially Chuck Blay's tour. We took the canyon tour. We stayed at Aloha Sunset Cottage and I share your opinion that the North Shore is the best place to anchor a stay. In the end, while the Island is filled with incredible opportunities for beauty and adventure, once could easily "stay put" on the North Shore and have plenty to do!

Santa Monica, CA
Destination Expert
for Santa Monica
posts: 9,605
reviews: 178
15. Re: Trip Report

Probably the best trip report I've read! I never thought of a link to my recent reviews, great idea. Thanks so much for sharing your advice. I cannot wait to stay on the North Shore!

Destination Expert
for Poipu
posts: 2,957
reviews: 2
16. Re: Trip Report

We also just had an amazing trip stay in Hanalei (I'll post the trip report later today, I promise!). For us the stark contract came when we moved down to the Grand Hyatt - not one person said "hi" or "good morning" to us unless I said it first (except the hotel staff, of course), and many of them didn't even return the greeting. In Hanalei it seemed like everyone had a smile, wave, or greeting (maybe it's just 'cause my kids are so darn cute...).

Destiny, we stayed at Papio Place with 6 balihai.com/KauaiVacationRentals/Papio-Place… - it has K/Q/Q beds so your teens would have to share a bed (or one sleep on the couch!). It was a great house and I highly recommend it.

Kaua'i, HI
Destination Expert
for Kauai, Poipu, Lihue
posts: 17,537
reviews: 33
17. Re: Trip Report

Aloha from Kaua'i!

"For us the stark contract came when we moved down to the Grand Hyatt - not one person said "hi" or "good morning" to us unless I said it first (except the hotel staff, of course), and many of them didn't even return the greeting."

Wow, that is amazing that no one said hello, aloha, or good morning to you the whole time you stayed at the Hyatt! In fact staff at the hotels here on Kaua'i are required to say some type of greeting to a guest when they get within a certain distance from them....I know this was the case when I worked at the Sheraton a few years ago (it is actually in your job description). I walk the pathway that runs through the Hyatt a couple times a week and I've never done it when I haven't had numerous people also walking the pathway say good morning, or something to me as I walked by.

I work narration at the Hyatt and I get lots of alohas, hellos, etc. from all the staff from the valet guys, to the concierge, to the crafters that are there when I go to work.....and they know I work there, they aren't "required" to say anything to me!

That is really sad and very unusual.

Malama Pono,


Destination Expert
for Poipu
posts: 2,957
reviews: 2
18. Re: Trip Report

No, Janet, I said the Grand Hyatt staff said aloha or good morning "(except the hotel staff, of course)" - they were all very pleasant and friendly. The other tourists were the ones lacking aloha...

Oh, and I meant to type "stark contrast", obviously...

Manhattan Beach...
Destination Expert
for Los Angeles, Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach
posts: 15,833
reviews: 3
19. Re: Trip Report

I agree 110% with Janet about everyone at the Hyatt. We were just there for a week and the staff was the most friendly of anywhere we've stayed. They were genuine, did more than say Aloha or Good Morning!

At the breakfast terrace they remembered us from past years. One who has been there for many years made sure we got a lagoon side table and greeted us by name as we walked into the Illima Terrace. One morning she brought over a can of Mac nuts for us to take for a snack in the car, when she asked what we were doing that day, and we said we were going to take a ride up to the north shore.

One of the food servers around the lagoon saw us leaving for the day, to go back up the stairs to the lobby area. She said follow me, and led us through the underground tunnel to take a service elevator instead of using the stairs with my Arthritis. She said use this everyday, now you know the way you don't need an escort. Each day as we used those tunnels when we saw staff, from laundry workers to maintenance men, no one blinked when they saw us, and greeted us with hello's.

The housekeepers kept our room stocked daily with all the nice smelling body products, even if we hadn't finished the others, gave us 4 extra coffee packets, as we use more than one daily and once asked if we could have one more. Always spoke to us as we passed by in the hallways and each day thanked us in person for the gratitudity we left.

The person who gave me a massage is another long time employee, said she drives from Hanalei each day to work at the Hyatt because they are the best to work for, even better than the SR.

The valets were out of this world with friendliness and speed in getting our car. Always gave us extra bottles of ice cold water when we took off, or asked if we needed more beach towels.

The differnt crafters who came each day to the lobby, the staff in the shops in town when browsing, everyone we came in contact with in the Poipu area was super nice.

I can't believe you had such a negative stay, I think that is very unusual.

Destination Expert
for Poipu
posts: 2,957
reviews: 2
20. Re: Trip Report

CAnative, we DIDN'T have a negative stay. We loved the Hyatt and would stay there again in a heartbeat. What I said in my original post #16, which Janet then misread, was that everyone EXCEPT the staff was hard-pressed to be friendly.

Every Hyatt staff person we interacted with was pleasant, attentive, and helpful. Many of the other tourists, however, could hardly be bothered to grunt hello, much less exchange a "hi-how-are-ya?" Perhaps if we had come to Poipu before staying in Hanalei we would not have noticed it - I was merely echoing the OPs opinion of the North Shore's friendly folks.