Are you looking for the best things to do in Kauai? If so, Princeville and Hanalei are two charming towns you don’t want to miss!
Princeville boasts stunning beaches, lush greenery, and towering cliffs, offering no shortage of natural beauty to explore. But there’s more to Princeville than just its scenery – the town also offers diverse activities and attractions that cater to everyone, whether you’re a shopping enthusiast, foodie, or simply looking for some free activities to partake in.
Hanalei – just a short distance from Princeville – is another town known for its stunning natural beauty, laid-back vibe, and cultural significance. Hanalei has plenty to offer visitors, from world-famous beaches to historic landmarks and unique local shops.
In this post, we’ll be taking a closer look at the top things to do in Princeville and Hanalei, including the best restaurants, free activities, and more. So, whether you’re looking to explore both towns or wondering what to eat in Princeville or Hanalei, we’ve got you covered!
Map of Best Things to Do in Princeville and Hanalei
Best Things to Do in Princeville and Hanalei
Without further ado, here are the best things to do in Princeville and Hanalei on the North Shore of Kauai.
1) Napali Coast Boat Tour
There’s no better way to experience the beauty of Kauai than with a Napali Coast Boat Tour. This scenic tour takes you along the breathtaking Napali Coastline, where you’ll see towering sea cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and vibrant marine life.
You can choose from various tours, including sunset, snorkeling, boat, and whale-watching.
Seeing the Napali Coast via boat gets you up close and personal with the stunning scenery. Also, it’s much more cost-effective than taking a helicopter tour. If you are on a budget but still want to experience the best of Kauai, this is an excellent option.
We opted for a Napali Coast tour with Holo Holo Charters, and it was an incredible experience. Unfortunately, they no longer offer tours from Hanalei as they sold their vessel to Hanalei Charters.
Hanalei Charters offers a morning and afternoon Napali adventure tour.
2) Hanalei Valley Lookout
This scenic lookout provides panoramic views of the stunning Hanalei Valley and Wai’oli Stream.
The valley is lush with taro fields and greenery, perfect for capturing that postcard-perfect view.
We can’t tell you how many times we have been here, and it never gets old. By far, some of the best views on the island.
3) Hanalei Bay and Hanalei Pier
Location: 4997 Weke Rd, Hanalei, HI 96714
Hanalei Bay and Pier are two of our favorite places to visit in Princeville, and they are both free.
Hanalei Bay is a stunning crescent-shaped beach that stretches for two miles and is perfect for swimming, surfing, and kayaking. Plus, the lush mountains in the background add to their beauty.
The pier is a popular spot for fishing, picnicking, and watching the sunset.
4) Surf at Hanalei Bay
Location: 4997 Weke Rd, Hanalei, HI 96714
If you’re looking for a fun way to spend the day on the north shore of Kauai, try surfing at Hanalei Bay. This beautiful beach is one of the best spots to surf on Kauai.
If you are a beginner surfer, we only recommend surfing here in the summer when the waves are tamer. The surf in the winter is much more aggressive and not ideal for beginners.
Hawaiian Surfing Adventures offers a great tour if you prefer to take a surf lesson before taking the plunge.
5) Limahuli Garden and Preserve
Location: 5-8291 Kuhio Hwy, Hanalei, HI 96714
Limahuli Garden and Preserve is a beautiful and historic botanical garden located on the north shore of Kauai, just a short drive from Princeville.
The garden is home to a diverse range of native Hawaiian plants, many of which are endangered species.
Visitors can explore the garden’s winding paths with stunning views of the surrounding mountains and ocean.
You can either take a self-guided tour or opt for a guided tour. We went on the self-guided tour, and we had a great time. They gave us a little book with information about the plants, which was very helpful.
There is an admission fee to enter the garden, but it’s well worth it for the beautiful views and unique plants you can find here.
Check prices for the: Limahuli Self-Guided Garden Tour
7) Princeville Center
If you’re looking for a one-stop shop for all your needs, then the Princeville Center is the perfect place. This open-air shopping center is located in the heart of Princeville and features a variety of stores, restaurants, and services.
Some popular shops include the Princeville Wine Market, where you can find a great selection of wine and spirits, and the Aloha Juice Bar, which offers fresh juices and smoothies.
The center also features a Foodland grocery store, which is excellent for a quick bite or to pick up some groceries.
Whether you’re looking to shop, grab a bite to eat, or take care of some errands, the Princeville Center has you covered.
8) Food Trucks for Lunch
Location: 5-5100 Kuhio Hwy, Hanalei, HI 96714
When it comes to food trucks in Hawaii, Kauai has some of the best. You’ll find a wide variety of food trucks in the town, offering everything from tacos and burritos to burgers and specialty dishes.
The food is fresh, delicious, and some of the best food we have had on the island. We usually eat at the food trucks 60% of the time in Kauai, so it’s worth a visit if you’re looking for a quick bite.
Nothing sounds better than a delicious quick lunch after a long hike or a morning of surfing.
Some of our favorite food trucks are Carlito’s Way, Da Fazenda, Cafe Tumeric, Holey Grail Donuts, and Nourish Hanalei. If you need help deciding which food trucks to visit, check out our list of the best food trucks in Kauai.
9) Dinner With a View at AMA Restaurant
Location: 5-5161 Kuhio Hwy, Hanalei, HI 96714
If you are looking for one of the best restaurants in Kauai, AMA Restaurant is a must-visit. This chic modern restaurant serves delicious Asian, vegetarian, and vegan cuisine. This is one of the best Asian fusion restaurants we have been to on the island.
You can’t beat the views here, either. The scenery is lush with gorgeous mountain views. It’s the perfect setting for a romantic dinner or a night out with friends or family.
The menu features a wide variety of dishes. We ordered the oyakodon ramen with bone broth and chicken, the green papaya salad, and the chicken skewer, and both were delicious.
10) Taro Donuts at Holey Grail
Location: 5-5100 Kuhio Hwy, Hanalei, HI 96714
If you have a sweet tooth and are looking for a unique dessert experience, you’ll want to check out Holey Grail in Hanalei.
This food truck is known for its delicious and innovative taro donuts, infused with Hawaiian-grown taro which is unique and gives it a soft, fluffy texture.
They come in various flavors like pineapple, chocolate, miso honey, strawberry fields, and more. You can even buy tasting boxes to sample all the different flavors!
In addition to their famous taro donuts, Holey Grail also offers some of the best coffee in Kauai. So remember to grab a cup of coffee along with your donuts!
11) Wai’oli Hui’ia Church
Location: 5 Kuhio Hwy #5363A, Hanalei, HI 96714
The Waioli Huiia Church is a historical and iconic landmark in Hanalei. The church was built in the mid-19th century and is considered one of the oldest and most significant churches on the island of Kauai.
Today, this church is one of the most photographed spots on the island. Its beautiful green-painted walls, impressive stained glass windows, and stunning location make it a photographer’s dream.
The church still has an active congregation, so if you want to attend a service during your visit, they offer a Hawaiian-style worship service at 10:00 am.
The church grounds are also very peaceful, with tropical gardens and views of the mountains in the background.
Word of caution: Please remember to be respectful when visiting the church, especially on Sundays. We don’t recommend going there to take pictures if there is an active service.
12) Shave Ice at Wishing Well
Location: 5-5080 Kuhio Hwy, Hanalei, HI 96714
Did you even go to Hawaii if you didn’t have some shave ice?
If you want a sweet treat to cool off on a hot day, head to Wishing Well Shave Ice. This is one of the best places in Kauai to get some delicious shave ice.
This local favorite has been serving delicious shave ice with various flavors for years. You can choose a classic combination like strawberry and vanilla or mix things with unique flavors like li hing mui or cherry bubble gum.
Whatever you choose, you’re sure to enjoy this refreshing treat. Don’t forget to add some ice cream or condensed milk for an extra indulgent experience!
13) Tunnels Beach
Location: Tunnels Beach, Hawaii, 96746
Tunnels Beach is a picturesque stretch of coastline known for its stunning scenery and excellent water activities.
The beach takes its name from the underwater tunnels and lava tubes that snorkelers and scuba divers can explore.
The clear waters and diverse marine life make it a popular spot for underwater enthusiasts. At the same time, the golden sand and dramatic mountains in the background provide a perfect backdrop for sunbathing and beachcombing.
Whether you want to explore the underwater world, catch some waves, or relax on the beach, Tunnels Beach is a must-visit on the north shore.
14) Anini Beach
Location: Anini Beach, Kalihiwai, HI 96754
Anini Beach is known for its calm waters, making it an excellent destination for swimming, snorkeling, and paddle boarding.
The beach is protected by a reef, which creates a large lagoon and a shallow area perfect for families. If you visit in the winter, always check the beach report for current conditions.
The clear water also offers excellent visibility for snorkelers, with plenty of tropical fish and sea turtles to spot. Anini Beach is a perfect option if you’re looking for a peaceful and relaxing beach experience.
15) Makai Golf Club
The Makai Golf Club is set amidst breathtaking scenery, with views of the ocean and mountains in the distance.
Designed by renowned golf course architect Robert Trent Jones Jr., the course features 18 holes that wind through lush greenery with perfect ocean views.
Golfers of all skill levels can enjoy the course, with different tee boxes and multiple options for play.
If you’re a golf enthusiast visiting Princeville, Makai Golf Club is a must-visit that will provide a memorable and enjoyable experience.
16) Tiki Iniki Bar
Location: 5-4280 Kuhio Hwy, Princeville, HI 96722
Tiki Iniki Bar is a popular spot in Princeville for locals and visitors to grab a drink and relax in a fun, laid-back atmosphere.
The bar is designed with a vintage tiki theme, colorful decor, and a lively atmosphere.
They offer a variety of tropical cocktails, craft beers, and a good selection of wines. They also have a full food menu, with classic bar food and locally-inspired dishes.
Whether you’re looking for a refreshing drink after a day at the beach or a fun night out with friends, Tiki Iniki Bar is a great spot to check out in Princeville.
17) Dinner at Bar Acuda
Location: 5-5161 Kuhio Hwy, Hanalei, HI 96714
Bar Acuda is a highly-rated restaurant in Hanalei, known for its creative and flavorful tapas-style dishes.
The restaurant has a cozy and intimate atmosphere, with sitting inside and outside. They specialize in making farm-to-table dishes packed with flavor. They source most of their ingredients locally and strive to use the freshest produce available.
The menu features a variety of small plates, perfect for sharing and sampling different flavors.
The dishes here are unique, delicious, and costly, so be prepared to spend more than you would at a regular restaurant. To be fair, you are in Hanalei, and things cost more in Kauai.
We ordered the scallops, cucumber salad, and short ribs, and our bill was about $110 with tip. These are tapas, so the portions are very small. While expensive, this is some of the best food we have ever had. The short ribs alone are worth the trip to Bar Acuda.
Tip: This restaurant gets booked months in advance, so book ahead. We tried to make our reservation a month and a half in advance, but they were fully booked for the time we were in Kauai. We opted to get notified if a cancellation was available, and we lucked out and got a text the next day!
18) Acai Bowl from Nourish Hanalei
Nourish Hanalei is a health-conscious cafe that offers a variety of fresh and nutritious food and drink options, including their famous acai bowls.
This is one of our favorite places to grab breakfast in Kauai. The bowls are huge, delicious, and made with consciously sourced ingredients.
In addition to the acai bowls, Nourish Hanalei also serves fresh smoothies, juices, salads, and sandwiches made with locally sourced and organic ingredients whenever possible.
Whether you’re looking for a quick breakfast or a healthy snack after exploring Hanalei, Nourish Hanalei is a great option.
19) Taro Fields
Location: Ohiki Rd, Princeville, HI 96722
The taro fields are a beautiful and culturally significant area where taro, a staple crop in Hawaiian cuisine, is grown.
Taro is a starchy root vegetable cultivated in Hawaii for centuries, and it plays a vital role in Hawaiian culture and traditions.
The taro fields in Hanalei are a perfect example of how taro is grown in Hawaii, with fields of water-filled terraces used to cultivate the crop.
The fields are surrounded by stunning views of the mountains and the Hanalei River, making it a popular spot for scenic drives and photo opportunities.
20) Explore Hanalei Town
Location: Hanalei, HI
Located west of Princeville, Hanalei Town is a must-visit. The charming and picturesque town offers a variety of shops, restaurants, and activities to explore.
Some popular things to do in Hanalei Town include browsing the local art galleries and boutique shops and grabbing a bite to eat at one of the many delicious restaurants.
Hanalei Town is also where you will find Wai’oli Mission House, Hanalei Pier and Bay, and some of the best beaches in Kauai.
No matter what time of year you visit, Hanalei Town is a great place to explore and experience the small-town Kauai charm.
Whether you’re looking for souvenirs or want local food, you can find it all in Hanalei Town.
21) Princeville Botanical Gardens
Location: 3840 Ahonui Pl, Princeville, HI 96722
The Princeville Botanical Gardens are a beautiful and peaceful oasis in the heart of Princeville.
The gardens are spread over 8 acres of lush, tropical landscape and offer a wide variety of plant species, including rare and exotic plants from all over the world.
Visitors can take a guided three-hour tour, including a walk through the lush tropical forest, an exotic fruit orchard, and a tour of the on-site chocolate factory.
Along the way, visitors can learn about the plants and their cultural and medicinal uses, as well as the history of the gardens and the surrounding area. You can also sample the seasonal fruit and homemade honey produced on-site.
The Princeville Botanical Gardens is a great place to visit if you want a peaceful and educational experience in Kauai.
Note: Advanced reservations are required, and they do not offer self-guided tours or general admission.
22) Hideaway Beach
Location: Hideaway Beach, Princeville, HI 96722
Hideaway Beach is a secluded gem in Princeville that is not to be missed if you are up for an adventure.
The beach can be accessed by a short but steep, slippery 15-minute hike past the gatehouse to the St. Regis Hotel. You can also kayak from Hanael if the ocean conditions allow it.
While the journey to get there is a bit challenging, the beach is a hidden paradise with perfect waters during the summer months, golden sand, and lush greenery.
Hideaway Beach is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and snorkeling, and it’s also a great spot to catch a glimpse of sea turtles and colorful tropical fish.
Additional Things to Do Near Princeville and Hanalei
23) Ahi Lele Luau Fire Show
Location: 5-2723 Kuhio Hwy, Kilauea, HI 96754
If you are looking for one of the best luaus on Kauai, check out Ahi Lele Luau Fire Show. This authentic luau features a delicious dinner, traditional Polynesian dances, and an exciting fire show that is sure to impress.
This family-friendly event is the perfect way to experience some of the best Kauai offers in culture and entertainment.
This luau is perfect for those that like an intimate and fun atmosphere. Compared to the popular Smith Family Garden Luau in Kapa’a, Ahi Lele has a more traditional feel with a much smaller crowd.
In addition to the entertainment, the Ahi Lele Luau Fire Show also offers a delicious buffet-style dinner featuring traditional Hawaiian cuisines like Kalua pig, poi, and tropical fruits.
24) Kilauea Lighthouse
Location: 3580 Kilauea Rd, Kilauea, HI 96754
The Kilauea Lighthouse is a historic landmark and popular attraction located on the northernmost point of Kauai in Kilauea.
The lighthouse was built in 1913 to guide ships traveling through the treacherous waters of the Kauai Channel, and it served as a vital aid to navigation for many years.
Today, the Kilauea Lighthouse is a protected wildlife sanctuary and a popular spot for tourists to visit. The lighthouse sits atop a 180-foot-high cliff, offering stunning panoramic views of the ocean and coastline.
From December to May, visitors can also glimpse humpback whales swimming offshore.
The lighthouse grounds feature a visitor center with exhibits on the area’s history, marine life, and the importance of lighthouses in navigation.
Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or just looking for a picturesque spot to take photos, the Kilauea Lighthouse is worth a visit.
Note: Advance reservations are required to visit the Kilauea Lighthouse.
25) Kaupea (Secret) Beach
Location: 2868 Kalihiwai Rd, Kilauea, HI 96754
Kaupea Beach, also known as Secret Beach, is a secluded and picturesque beach in Kilauea, about a 15-minute drive from Princeville.
As its name suggests, this beach is a hidden gem tucked away behind a lush jungle accessible only by a short hike. The hike down to the beach can be slippery, but the stunning views of the ocean and the surrounding landscape make it all worth it.
Once you reach Kaupea Beach, you’ll be greeted by a vast expanse of golden sand and gorgeous blue waters. The beach is surrounded by towering cliffs, which give it a sense of seclusion and privacy. There is also a waterfall (if not dry) and a tide pool once you get to the beach.
Caution: The waves at Kaupea Beach are quite rough if visiting in the winter months. We attempted to visit this beach in January, but the waves were too high to even get on the sand when we got there. If you are new to the area, we don’t recommend hiking down if the surf is too high.
26) Hike the Kalalau Trail
The Kalalau Trail is a world-famous hiking trail that winds through the majestic Napali Coast, one of Hawaii’s most stunning and rugged landscapes.
The trail begins at Ke’e Beach in Ha’ena State Park and stretches 22 miles along the coastline, passing by towering sea cliffs, lush valleys, streams, and pristine beaches.
The Kalalau Trail is considered a strenuous hike, with steep inclines and uneven terrain. Along the way, hikers will be treated to some of the most breathtaking views in Hawaii, including panoramic vistas of the Pacific Ocean, hidden waterfalls, and vibrant rainforests.
Hiking the Kalalau Trail requires a permit, so make sure to make your reservations beforehand.
The trail can be treacherous in some sections, so hikers should always exercise caution and stay on designated paths. Being well-prepared with the proper gear, food, and water is also important.
You can take two trails, but both require crossing a stream. We don’t recommend going to the falls unless you are an experienced hiker.
- Kalalau Trail to Hanakali’ai Beach (4.2 miles out and back)
- Continue on the trail to Hanakai’a Falls (8.9 miles out and back)
27) Ke’e Beach
Location: Ke’e Beach, Hawaii, 96746
This crescent-shaped beach offers stunning views of the towering sea cliffs and the beautiful blue waters of the Pacific Ocean.
The beach is popular among swimmers and snorkelers, thanks to its calm waters and abundant marine life.
One of the highlights of Ke’e Beach is the nearby reef, home to a wide variety of colorful fish and other sea creatures.
Snorkelers can explore the reef and see everything from bright yellow tangs to elusive sea turtles. The beach is also an excellent spot for picnicking, sunbathing, and simply relaxing in the shade of palm trees.
Ke’e Beach is also the starting point for the Kalalau Trail, a world-famous hiking trail that winds along the Napali Coast. Remember to make your reservation in advance as these are required.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Princeville Known For?
Princeville is a luxurious resort community located on the north shore of Kauai, Hawaii.
The area is known for its stunning natural beauty, lush greenery, pristine beaches and waters, and dramatic cliffside with gorgeous views of the pacific ocean.
Is Princeville Worth a Visit?
Absolutely! Princeville is a stunning destination on the north shore of Kauai, and it’s worth a visit.
The natural beauty and outdoor activities make it a must-visit for anyone traveling to Kauai. Whether you’re a nature lover, an adventure seeker, or simply looking for a relaxing vacation, Princeville has something to offer.
What is The Best Month to Visit Princeville?
The best time to visit Princeville depends on what you’re looking for in a vacation.
- Winter(November- April): The weather is generally cooler and wetter, but the waves are bigger, and the surf is up, making it a popular time for surfers. Winter is also a great time for whale watching, as humpback whales migrate to the warm waters of Hawaii from Alaska during this time.
- Summer (May to October): Summer is peak season in Hawaii, and Princeville is no exception. The hot and sunny weather makes it a perfect time for swimming and beach activities. However, the crowds can be large, and prices for accommodations and activities are higher.
What is Hanalei Known For?
Hanalei is a charming town on the north shore of Kauai known for its stunning natural beauty, laid-back vibe, and cultural significance.
The beaches, taro fields, and waterfalls are just a few of the things that Hanalei is famous for.
Can You Walk From Princeville to Hanalei?
Technically, yes, but it’s not recommended as the distance between the two towns is approximately 3.4 miles, and the route includes some steep hills and narrow roads without sidewalks.
The best way to get from Princeville to Hanalei is by car, which takes about 10 minutes.
Princeville and Hanalei are two of the most stunning destinations on Kauai’s north shore.
Whether looking for a relaxing vacation in paradise, an adventure-filled getaway, or a combination, these towns have something to offer everyone!
Remember to bring your camera because you’ll want to capture Princeville and Hanalei’s beauty and keep the memories alive forever.
Mahalo for stopping by! Until next time, Aloha!