Epic landscapes and absolutely pristine reserves, Kauai’s North Shore is nature lovers’ paradise. Its abundant rainfall gives rise to lush tropical forests as well as to many waterfalls and streams throughout. Compared against South Shore, the North Shore has more cliffs and mountains (incredible sceneries!), and receives more rain (unbeatable rainbows!). Both are awesome in their own ways, but serve up very different experiences. I say try both if you have the chance!
Centerpiece of the contemporary St. Regis Princeville is the stunning view of Hanalei Bay (see top featured photo!). Every evening, St. Regis Bar hosts a sunset champagne sabering ceremony to celebrate this beauty. The resort is intimate and quiet, and perfect for romantic honeymoons and special occasions. Beach access is a little convoluted as the hotel is spread across several buildings descending from a hillside. Waves appeared calmer than those on the South Shore while I was there, though noting North Shore is home to legendary surf waves in winter. St. Regis also provides access to the renown Makai Golf Course. Even if you don’t golf, guests can take the self-driven sunset golf cart tour to enjoy some of the best views on Kauai.
Accentuated with hardwood furnishings, the rooms are warmly illuminated. Sunlight floods in through large French windows. Thoughtfully designed (even with a lei holder), the rooms are spacious and inviting, and the marbled bathroom is updated with a huge soaking tub, separate showers and double sinks. I thought the bathroom’s “magic glass” partition was particularly clever, giving a boost of airiness. A room tip: Avoid the mountain view rooms as they really just overlook the car park. Partial or ocean views are breathtaking!
Princeville Ranch is just 10 minutes drive away, and caters to a range of guided adventures – e.g., horseback riding, ATV, ziplining, hikes and more, inside the private property. The ATV drive, staying on pre-set course, was extremely scenic, and our group had a little adventure running into a cattle herd at one of the gates. I also experienced ziplining for the first time! Overall, I highly recommend this establishment – with professional and friendly guides, well-maintained equipment and access to a great private reserve. Another tip: rent the shoes. In addition to ATV’s mud puddles crossings, there is a short hike to the zipline spot, and in between, there are several “invigorating”’ water streams. The covered-toe Tevas that they offer does the job perfectly.
Undoubtedly, majestic nature reserves are North Shore’s featured headline . My next trip will definitely entail hiking the Hanakapiai Trail. From all accounts, it is an amazing but challenging hike of 4 + 8 miles, depending on whether or not you go for the incredibly awarding waterfall at the end. The trail crosses beaches, caves, rivers and into valleys for spectacular views of the Na Pali Coast and the Hanakapiai Valley. I found that Paige has a great post here that gives an excellent overview on what to expect and preparations for the hike. Most of the North Shore hiking trails, e.g., Kalalau, Powerline and Okolehao, are considered extremely strenuous and involve steep climbs given the topography so be prepare if you want to take them on!
Special thanks to Hawaii Tourism Oceania for organizing this trip though of course the experiences and reviews are solely my own!
Lucy’s Bonus: I’ve secured special amenities for readers at the St. Regis Princeville, including complimentary breakfast, hotel credit, upgrade subject to availability and more, so shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to book a stay!
Also see my earlier post Kauai: Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & South Shore for more on Kauai!
The grand lobby at the St. Regis. I love the glass chandelier – reminded me of scuba diving bubbles!
A panoramic view though the camera does not do it justice. The mountain backdrop induces mystery and adventure while covered in clouds.
The beach at St. Regis. The bungalows offer a extra layer of privacy and comfort.
Although clouds covered the sunset, we were treated to a “double” champagne sabering. Impressive synchronization! Many thanks to my travel companion, Melinda Gregor, for this fabulously timed photo!
St. Regis boasts the biggest hotel guest rooms in Kauai!
Awesome views of the dramatic mountain ranges along the ATV drive. I love how Kauai is superbly green all around!
Ziplining across a small valley! That’s Alvin looking very relaxed and dangling.
Picnic next to a cute waterfall wraps up our adventure. The water is refreshingly cold if you dare to take a plunge via the little diving board!