After two weeks in Kona driving all over the huge Big Island, we got to the very laid-back environment of the north shore of Kauai. A bit of a shock to the system. In fact, the resort in Princeville had only opened five days before we arrived. No trouble finding a pool chair here. I have to honestly say I needed a bit of relaxation and beach time after the volcanos on the Big Island.
Arriving in Kauai
Kauai has only been open to outside visitors without a mandatory quarantine since the beginning of April. The change meant visitors would start pouring in and I was concerned about the lines when we arrived. Because we didn’t come from the mainland with a wristband issued at check-in, we had to go to the long, slow line to have our QR codes and test results verified. But the Army team in charge of managing arrivals did a good job of getting everyone through the line.
I should note that we should have been pros by now with the Hawaii Safe Travels program and website. You use this site to set up your trips and attach your Covid test results. But I messed up and didn’t attach my test results properly. So we had to go to the side of the line and wait for a supervisor. In the meantime, I was able to get onto the airport wifi and attach my results to the correct trip. Needless to say, we finally got through the line and out of baggage claim.
Then we were presented with an even longer line for the rental car. By longer line, I mean over an hour plus. Thankfully, we have Hertz Gold so we found someone to fast-track us into a car. We weren’t that happy with this car, but getting something versus the line and possibly having them run out of cars was great. So we made a hasty retreat.
I know I’ve been to the north shore of Kauai once but I didn’t remember it at all. Princeville is a resort community built on top of a bluff with a beautiful golf course. We didn’t want to play the course here because it was outrageously expensive. For those of you who know us, you know that we don’t mind spending money on things that we think are worth it. But, over $200 for a round of golf when I can only hit from about 100 yards out probably won’t ever seem worth it.
We were told before we arrived at the Westin Princeville that there were no ocean view units at the resort but when we got to our room we were happy to see a beautiful ocean view from the balcony. The view from the infinity pool out over the ocean was spectacular too.
A Note About Nenes
Our GyPSy guide on Maui told us the nenes are the Hawaiian state bird and that they were endangered. He also said that they were descended from Canadian Geese and couldn’t fly. On both Maui and the Big Island, we saw signs on the side of the road for nene crossings, which of course implied that they only walked. We did see a few on Maui and a few on the Big Island, but there were lots of them at our resort in Princeville. We also saw them flying (call me surprised). They were also taking a bath and drinking out of the swimming pool and begging for food. It turns out that Kauai has nearly half of the state population of nenes because there are no mongooses on Kauai to eat their eggs. They are really pretty birds with a higher-pitched honk than Canadian geese.
As we pulled into our resort, I saw a path and a sign for beach access parking, so I figured there was a beach we could get to directly from our resort without driving. It turns out this beach is called Wyllie Beach. One morning after we worked at the resort gym (finally open) we walked out to the path. Based on the height of the bluff, we figured that we would be going down several hundred feet in elevation to get to the beach. That meant that the path was pretty steep. There is also always lots of rain on the north side of the island so there were muddy streams running through the path.
Since I’m still rehabbing my ACL/MCL repair, I walked very carefully down the steep path. At the bottom, we were rewarded with a beautiful nearly empty beach. Of course, what goes down must go up but it wasn’t as bad as expected.
From one side you can see Hanalei Bay, which is only about 10 minutes away, usually. But back in March, while we were in Maui, there was a big storm and it took out the road between Princeville and Hanalei. Fortunately, by the time we got there, they were able to open the road to one-way traffic, but only between certain hours of the day. That had a big impact on our ability to get to the beautiful beaches at Hanalei Bay and the areas beyond. The road was open for one-way traffic after 5:30 pm so we could go for dinner after a short wait for our turn on the road.
Hanalei Bay was the first place we wanted to visit. The town is really cute with a number of restaurants and shaved ice places. The beach at the bay is very large and suitable for swimming or boogie boarding. There were some people further out in the bay surfing. There is also a river running into the bay on the right side and there were lots of kayaks and outrigger canoes in the river area.
There was a great beach that we could get to in the opposite direction from Hanalei Bay, called Anini Beach. We actually went there several times and found some beautiful tranquil spots. This beach was also good for snorkeling. One time we did that and saw at least 5 green sea turtles. I love turtles and I have a tendency to follow them when we are scuba diving. There were lots of fish too and shade on the beach for Mike’s fair skin. After thinking about all of the beaches we have been to in Hawaii, I think Anini is my favorite.
Drive to Ha’Ena Beach
One day we got out the GyPSy Guide for Kauai and drove northwest to the end of the road. Along the way, we saw many beautiful beaches and we stopped at a few. At the end of the road is Ha’Ena State Park. Unfortunately, we needed a reservation to get in and we didn’t have one. The draw of this park is the Ke’e Beach and access trails on the Na Pali Coast.
Kilauea is a small town close to Princeville with a beautiful lighthouse that we could actually see from our resort. The first time we went out there the lighthouse was closed. The area around the lighthouse is a wildlife refuge mostly for sea birds including Laysan albatross, red-footed boobies, brown boobies, red-tailed and white-tailed tropicbirds, great frigatebirds, wedge-tailed shearwaters, and Pacific golden plovers.
We went back to the lighthouse a second time and actually watched the albatross do their mating dance. We also saw some shearwaters in their burrow and managed to see the red-footed boobies along with lots of tropicbirds.
Boogie Boarding at Kealia Beach
When we arrived in Kauai we went on a Costco run because we figured we would be on the island for a month. During that visit, we bought a boogie board. Mike assured me that he would use it and it would be fun. So, we investigated good beaches for boogie boarding and found Kealia Beach which was about 20 minutes away. We were able to get out there and find a nice spot under a tree where I could watch the great boogie board action. Boogie boarding only lasted about 30 minutes but Mike says it was fun.
What would you want to do on the north shore of Kauai?