Visiting Hawaii is often a wonderful dream. It can take years to plan and could cost your entire savings to afford. We have our very fortunate return visitors but many families save their entire lives to visit us here in paradise. Traveling far distances and relying on friends, books, pictures and websites to guide you on your journey. One of the most common questions I get from parents planning a trip to Kauai is where on the island should we stay? Being born and raised here in the islands both my husband and I have a combined total of 73 years of knowledge about Hawaii.
Let’s start off with the first question… where should we stay? There really is no right or wrong answer it just depends on your vision of paradise. First of all Kauai is a small island just about 25-30 miles across at its widest point and tourism is our main industry. We don’t even have a road that will take you entirely around the island (you can hike, kayak, or boat across the Na Pali coast ) The island is basically round and split into 4 main sections, North shore, East side, South side and West side. The North shore is from Haena to Kilauea (including Haena, Hanalei, Princeville, and Kilauea) this side is our greener side with lots of lush vegetation and mountain scenery. This also includes the very famous “Bali Hai mountain” featured in the movie called “South pacific”. The North shore is a very common tourist spot and has great winter surf and summer snorkeling along with awesome beach front vacation rentals.
Next is our East side which is the most populated section. The East side includes Anahola, Kapaa, Wailua, Hanamaulu, Lihue, and Puhi. The East side is the windward side of the island and being the home to the wettest spot on earth (Mt.Wai’ale’ale) it often has daily passing showers keeping it green and lush. With both economical and upscale accommodations found on the island the East side can meet all your family needs. Being a very family oriented area there are lots of great family spots including popular Lydgate beach park and playground, Pono Market for local food and Wal-Mart, Kmart and Costco for your shopping necessitates. Located on the East side is the Wailua river which is the only navigable river on the island and there are many great boat and kayak tours to explore. Loaded with great eateries the East side is ideal for convenience and with its location on the main highway it is about midway from either end of the island.
Moving on the South shore and also a very popular tourist area with the most resorts (including vacation rentals, condos, timeshares, and hotels) includes Koloa and Poipu. If you’re looking for sun this side of the island is for you. With great snorkeling and lots of tours and hangouts the south shore is sure to please any family. When you first enter the south shore you are greeted by an awe inspiring tunnel of trees, but please be cautious as this is one of our main highways, please pull over to the side of the road before taking pictures. Beautiful beaches, restaurants, spas, and don’t forget the very cool natural spouting horn the South side could be a one stop destination.
Last but not least is our West side this includes Hanapepe, Waimea and Kekaha. Being the driest part of the island and almost desert like you are almost guaranteed sun. Here you will find the longest beach in the State of Hawaii which is called Polihale and loved by the locals and tourist for camping year round. Please keep in mind that all of our oceans do carry dangers. Also you will find another great treasure known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific aka Waimea Canyon that will lead you to our Koke’e state park. With great camping spots and lodges Koke’e is surely a spot you will not want to miss. Koke’e also will show you an amazing view of our Kalalau valley which was home to over 5,000 Hawaiians less than 100 years ago. With great Hawaiian History the Kalalau valley is not just beautiful scenery but also great importance to the Hawaiian people. Koke’e also has many great hiking trails along with the Alaka’i swamp at 4,500 feet, it is the highest swamp in the world and home to many indigenous plant and species.