“All in all we couldn’t ask for a more relaxing and rejuvenating place than the North Shore of Kauai.”
- the Yoks from Ohio
We come to Sealodge on the north shore of Kauai at least once a year. People often ask us what we do in this corner of the island for 3 weeks. Sometimes what we don’t do is more important than what we do. This is a perfect place to relax. We leave the makeup, long pants, shoes, and nylons at home and pack a bathing suit, flip flops, and a sarong. People come to start a new relationship or to patch up old ones. If we choose to, we can get away from phones, TVs, and computers. It’s possible to while away the hours watching for sea turtles on the reef, spotting whales in the winter, listening to the waves break, and letting the tropical air soothe our mainland frustrations. Once we start to unwind, we can take a morning walk to the public beach at the Princeville Hotel, swim and snorkel in the shallow waters that bathe their coast, have a Mai Tai and a sandwich from their beachfront café and nap in the warm afternoon sand. For me, that’s a perfect day.
On other days we walk from Sealodge on a trail through the trees to Anini Beach. But the best surprise of all is the beach right below Sealodge. Yes, the trail can be steep and is muddy and slippery after a rain. And some folks may want insect repellent at certain times of the year. But it takes us through our own tropical forest along a beautiful, rocky coastline to a beach that is sometimes uninhabited. On one visit we even found a sleeping monk seal. And when the sun is out and the water is calm, the fish are plentiful and their colors so vivid that I feel like I’m filming for National Geographic. Swimming is safe because we are on a reef. We don’t even need to swim to see fish. With rubber water shoes and a mask, we could walk waist deep onto the reef, stick our heads into the water and see the fish. For more adventure, there’s deeper water, bigger fish, and stronger currents at other beaches. (see Beaches/Snorkeling)
“Golf has been great – the Prince course is not to be missed but eats golf balls! Thank you for sharing your condo. Sealodge is our favorite.”
the Tobias from Colorado
My husband is an avid golfer and I love scenic beauty. The best of both is on the north shore of Kauai. We always play one of the 4 courses in Princeville (see Golf). For me, it’s not a bad way to see some of the tropical plants. Most of what is growing in Kauai now is not native to the island, but the vegetation is beautiful and fragrant. There’s pikake, plumeria, birds of paradise, and even poinsettia hedges that turn solid red during the Christmas season. I see most of my houseplants growing wild on Kauai, and they are larger and more robust than any I’ve seen on the mainland. Other places to see a variety of exotic, colorful fruit and flowers are the Growers’ Markets held twice weekly (once near Kilauea and once near Hanalei) and the Limahuli Garden and Preserve in Haena.
“We just LOVE the North Shore. In the end, the unsurpassed beauty of the entire island is what’s most spectacular!”
the Bauers from San Francisco
We make an annual trip to the Kilauea Lighthouse at the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Reserve where an effort is underway to reintroduce some of the native plants and protect endangered birds. In October we can see shearwater chicks emerge from nests in the ground. We take binoculars or use the ones provided at the lighthouse to see boobies nesting in trees that hang from a rocky cliff over the sea, tropicbirds, frigatebirds, and the Hawaiian Goose or Nene whose population is slowing recovering from near extinction. The albatrosses or gooney birds come here to nest. They build their nests on the ground, some in surprising places, like near construction sights or on the golf course. The Department of Fish & Wildlife does what it can to protect a nest by roping off the area and posting signs.
“The Kalalau trail was the best part of the trip.”
the Coles from Oklahoma
On each trip we take at least one hike. The Ultimate Kaua’i Guidebook says “Of all the Hawaiian Islands, none offers more trails or better hiking than Kaua’i.” On this trip we took the Okolehao trail that starts near Hanalei. We are in our 60s now and realize that this hike is almost too tough for us, but those young enough for a challenge will be rewarded by vistas of Hanalei Bay and the taro fields in the Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge. One fifth of the island is visible from the peak at the end of this hike. Along the way, we passed wild apples, guava, ferns, wild orchids, and a grove of Norway pines. The Kalalau trail that starts near Ke’e Beach offers waterfalls, swimming holes, and incredible views of the NaPali Coast.
“Everyone should do the Inter-Island helicopter tour. It was beyond words…Just thank you so much. We will remember this forever.”
the Griffins from North Carolina
If hiking is not enough exercise, then kayaking is our next favorite activity. We have taken a kayak from Waimea to the Fern Grotto and hiked into Secret Falls. We have also kayaked on the Hanalei River to the Pines at Hanalei Bay. For the brave at heart, there are also ocean kayaking trips.
And a visit to the island is not complete without a snorkeling trip to Ni’ihau or a rafting trip to explore the caves of the NaPali coastline.
Fortunately, the island’s beauty is accessible to those of us who are not as active as we used to be. There are numerous luaus, helicopter rides, NaPali coast boat tours, dinner cruises, and whale-watching trips from December to April. The taro fields are visible from a lookout point on the Kuhio Highway (Route 56). At least two waterfalls, Wailua Falls and ‘Opaeka’a Falls, are visible from a car, and there’s a boat that takes people to the Fern Grotto. The Princeville Resort offers several luxuries to island visitors. They have stables for horseback riders, a spa that includes an exercise room, a swimming pool, hot tub, and one of several masseuses.
“Best massage ever – Maria (upstairs next to Yoga Studio in Hanalei).”
Fawcett & Gast from Maui
My favorite spot is the Hanalei pier at sunset. We sometimes pack a sandwich and go there to swim in the afternoon or to fish from the pier. It’s a lovely spot to picnic and watch local kids learn to surf or see more experienced surfers tackle waves outside the reef.
On other evenings, we can walk from Sealodge to one of 5 restaurants; Hanalai Bay Resort has a lovely open-air terrace, the Princeville Hotel, while pricey, is worth a visit (see Restaurants) and CJ’s, Paradise Grill, or Spinner’s Coffee are at the Princeville Shopping Center. A good grocery store, where we frequently rent DVDs, is also there.
It is not unusual to have some rain during our visit. All the greenery must be watered. That’s when we explore the shops. There’s upscale casual clothing and island-made soaps and candles in Kong Lung Shopping Center in Kilauea, jewelry made from the tiny shells of Ni’ihau and vintage Hawaiian gifts in Hanalei, and unique island gifts offered in the Hanalei Dolphin Center. We’ve learned to take an empty suitcase with us so we can bring our treasures home with us.
The quotes included here come from the guest book in our Sealodge unit. The one that probably sums it up the best is from New York.