Travel was stress free and our drive from airport to resort was calm and scenic

Every year I head somewhere tropical seeking to renew my water bond! This was my first trip to Kaua’i and being winter, the weather was definitely finicky, the north shore too windy and water clarity was diminished. We hiked, snorkeled where we could, drove to a few amazing sites, and enjoyed our down time running on island time.

Where we stayed in Princeville

Ocean view from Resort

It was our first visit to the Westin Villas in Princeville. Staying a full week or even more than a couple of days makes renting a car on Kaua’i a must. The drive into Princeville was long but uneventful. The resort here is beautiful and it’s on the smaller side making it seem less congested as compared to the Cancun villas I love to frequent. It sits up on a cliff with breathtaking ocean views, has 3 pool areas plus a kiddy pool area and one adults only. The standard fare of a small market, cafe, poolside bar and eatery, Nanea restaurant and bar for a local cuisine experience.

Wailea: Falls, Waimea Bay, Russian Fort

The falls is a main attraction simply for its easy access and proximity to Lihue. The view is from the top and the growth along the all is pretty dense making a full view nearly impossible. With it’s easy drive in and out, it’s a natural must stop.s

Trail to Wyllies Beach

Next to the resort was a small beach access parking area. With us sitting up on a cliff in Princeville there was no easy path to sink your toes into the sand and a beach within walking distance was intriguing. The short trail gives one a small taste of this island’s typical hiking terrain…steep, muddy, low branches and could be buggy. We were able to avoid the mud on our visit, no bugs and it’s short enough to make it back up without being completely worn out.

The accessible beach area isn’t huge but it is very quiet. There were a few beach dwellers under the tree line. You can continue south to visit Anini Beach if the river is crossable. Something we hadn’t realized until we did the drive over to Anini beach.

River between Wyllies and Anini beaches

Snorkeling

We snorkeled off of 3 north area beaches. The earlier part of the week was pretty nice and easy to just jump in. However the rain forecast was progressively worse the last couple of days. We almost didn’t get to do a 3rd day of snorkeling. But found a short break and it turned out to be the favorite.

  • Anini was a short 15 minute drive and very easy to park along the beach, gear up and walk into the water. It was a calm day during our visit here. There were many turtles to be seen here and we enjoyed a turtle pace as we floated along.
  • Tunnels snorkeling is technically from Makua Beach and was a little more of a challenge to access due to limited parking. We ended up parking at Halena Beach and walked along the Kuhio Hwy about 1/4 mile to the beach access then had another 1/4 mile of beach walking to the reef access. This reef is large and the current is strong; to enter, facing the ocean, continue to the right to the last flag. The wind was too much on our day. The wind made it wavy and bouncy even in the reef area and the current was quicker than I was used to. The intimidating conditions drove me to enter at on a small reef near the shoreline. It was short run and then we walked our way back to the parking log.
  • Puu Poa Beach is at the Princeville Resort and is accessible by a long stairstep walk near the hotel parking lot. There’s only a small parking area. This was a 3rd outing and was the best even though it was squeezed in between rain downpours. The variety, depth, and distance we were able to go was the best of these 3 stops.

Check out the video! This was the first time using the GoPro underwater and I was impressed with how well it captured what we were seeing. As depths and clarity degraded it wasn’t as clear but we got lucky with many sun break moments shining into the water.

1st GoPro Snorkel video at 3 different Kauai north shore beaches

Hanalai Valley & taro root fields

This scenic overlook was near our grocery shopping plaza. The view looks back into the valley at a group of Taro root fields. Taro root is an old traditional crop on the islands, however, today the amount of fields is only 5% from it’s peak.

View from the Hanalei Valley Overlook

Kalihiwai Beach

A popular surf beach and a local favorite. We discovered this from an overlook after snorkeling Anini Beach. The overlook is on the opposite side of the Kalihiwai River so we took a separate outing to drive down into the beach and just walk around. It’s a mixture of pounding surf and calm lagoon water. The Kalihiwai River exits at this beach and creates a small lagoon for swimming or you can head up river on a SUP or Kayak.

Kilauea Lighthouse

Circa 1913 lighthouse sitting 180 foot above the ocean and is part of the Kilauea National Wildlife Refuge. There are numerous birds making this their home. It was built starting 1913 and was in service for 63 years. As time progresses, the lens and light capability was improved making it possible for safer navigation by ships and eventually by planes. The lighthouse history is documented on Kilauea Point Natural History if you’d like more details.

Waimea Canyon

We took a full day and journeyed over to the Grand Canyon of the Hawaiian Islands, Waimea Canyon. It was a beautiful drive up a winding road. This first picture is from a roadside pullout as we were still climbing along the ridge line. We drove the full route and also did a 3.6 mile hike. I’ll put that in a a separate post with all the photos taken.

View from HWY 550 back to the bay

Where to Next?

We’ll be heading onto the Big Island for a few more days of island time, then proceeding back to home base. Stay tuned for the Waimea Canyon post/video and more from our Hawaii jaunts.

Check out our short Youtube clips and Campsite Gallery to see more details on where we’ve been able to camp and explore with our rig: 2004 Ford F350 + 2000 Lance Camper + 2000 Jeep Wrangler.

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