Princeville is an area on the North end of Kauai named in 1860 after the son of King Kamehameha IV, Prince Albert. Today, it is a high-end resort community with golf courses, dramatic sea cliffs and pretty beaches.
By far, my favorite place to visit in Princeville is Queen’s bath. It is a larger than normal, deeper than normal tide pool situated right next to the crashing ocean waves. You can swim in this natural pool with fish from the ocean. It is located in a long expanse of lava rock along the north shore. I have been there when we were the only folks there and I have been there when we had to wait our turn. The pool is roughly the size of the swimming pool so many people can swim in it at the same time. Plan on spending at least a couple of hours there.
To get there turn right off of highway 56 onto Ka Haku road. Then turn right again onto Punahele and right again onto Kapiolani and park alond the road towards the end. Parking can be challenging at times. Follow the dirt trail along the stream until it opens up and you see the ocean. Turn left and follow along the rock wall about 300 yards until you see the bath.
Queen’s bath is not only popular with people. I have never failed to see many turtles out in the ocean close by on every visit.
The eastmost beach in the Princeville area is Sealodge beach, officially titled Kaweonui beach. The Sealodge name most likely comes from the fact that this is the beach below the Sealodge condominiums. Because of so much rock, this is not a good swimming beach. There is a channel through the heavy rock area where you can snorkel. This beach is pretty secluded and not very populated. Because of the lush vegetation, you can always find shade. To get to the beach, take the path down from Building A of the Seaport condominiums. Unfortunately, there is no public parking but plenty of parking for those staying at the Sealodge resort. You may need to bring mosquito propellant as they are present at times. So why would you want to visit this beach? Its a great place to find a little privacy, lay on the beach, and you might just see a sea turtle or two.
Hideaways beach, officially named Pali Ke Kua beach, is a pretty beach but not a great destination for the very young, very old, or those with physical limitations. There is a strenuous 10 minute hike down a steep path to the beach. Because of that, it is not overly crowded. This beach is great for snorkeling during the summer but not so good for swimming due to the rocky ocean bottom. You can usually find some shade from the trees. This beach is a little longer during the summer months.
To get to Hideaways beach while heading west on Prince Kuhio highway, 56 or 560, turn north and drive towards the ocean. When you get almost to the end of the road, you will see a small parking lot for about eight vehicles. Park and take the path between the two metal post fences. After a while the path joins a very steep, poorly maintained set of stairs that you will descend Sometimes you are walking on stairs. Sometimes you are descending down a cliff wall hanging on to a rope. After a major descent, you will walk across the slope and eventually make it out to the beach. Not too surprising, you will not find many people there. Enjoy but remember that you have to climb back up that same way down. Below is a shot of Hideaways beach.
Just around the horn from Hideaways beach to the west is Pu’u Poa beach. This is the longest beach in Princeville and next to the Hanalei Bay Beach Resort and Princeveille St. Regis Hotel. There is a great reef there that is great for snorkeling but not always swimming. Swimming is possible during high tides but either one should only be done during the summer months. Shade is available for most of the day. This beach also requires going down a cliff. Look for the cement path just to the left of the gate house at the St. Regis. There you will walk down two hundred or so steps. If you are staying at the St. Regis, you can take the elevator down. Many come to Pu’u Poa beach to watch the sunset and with good reason. This beach is just north of Hanalei bay and the surrounding Kauai mountains make for stunning scenery.
Golfing is another big draw to visitors of Princeville. Two of the best golf courses on Kauai are located in Princeville: Prince golf course and Makai Golf Club at Princeville.
Once ranked as Golf Digest’s #1 golf course in Hawaii and listed in the top 100 courses in the world, the Princeville golf course sits on 390 acres above Kauai’s north shoreline. It captures the beauty and feel of Kauai with streams, jungle elements and a waterfall. This par 72 course rambles up and down green hills making for a challenging game. I noticed that it was often described as “impossible” in different forums. The course is named after Prince Albert. It boasts a royal experience and is priced that way.
The Makai Golf Club at Princeville finds itself on different top 100 golf course listings. I would say that it is a beautiful course with spectacular views, but I think you can say that about all golf courses in Kauai. Heck, you can probably say that about the landfills too. Makai was closed in 2008 for renovations and reopened in 2010, so it should be considered one of the newer courses. This is a 27-hole course designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. The Makai course is a par-72 over 7,200 yards and sports some of the best ocean and mountain views in Hawaii.
There are all kinds of lodging options in Princeville with prices all over the map. At the time of this writing, the three top rated resorts over at tripadvisor are the St. Regis Princeville Resort at $605 a night, the Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas at $405 a night, and the Hanalei Bay Resort at $200 a night. With a little shopping around, you can bring those prices down. I have been to both the St. Regis and the Westin and they are both nice. The views from the St. Regis are unbelievable. I will also add that I had my best and most expensive meal at the St. Regis.
Other things to do while staying in Princeville would be ziplining, visit nearby Hanalei Bay, and visit the Princeville Botanical gardens.