"Having stayed at Mauna Kai unit #8 twice in 2002, I was so pleased with my experience that I will be taking a group of friends there in 2004. It's such a roomy, sunlit condo.....

Below, you’ll find links which will answer a lot of your questions about Kaua’i. Click on the topic in the list and you’ll be taken to that topic.




























































































A trip to Kauai is definitely for relaxing. Our condo, Mauna Kai # 8, is located in Princeville, on the North Shore of Kauai. The island has a total area of approximately 549 sq. miles - 33 miles long and 25 miles wide with 90 miles of coastline. The current population is almost 51,000 residents and the highest point is Kawaikiki Peak at 5,243 ft above sea level.

The main airport where you will most likely arrive is in Lihue. There is no where on the island that is "very far" away. Below are some approximate driving times to certain points on the island from the airport. (Note that the distances aren't far, but the highest island speed limit is 45 mph)

Driving Times from Lihue to:

  • Kalalau Valley Lookout - 1 hour 40 minutes
  • Koloa / Poipu - 30 minutes
  • Kilauea - 45 minutes
  • Princeville / Hanalei - 60 minutes
  • Kokee - 90 minutes
  • Waimea Canyon - 75 minutes
    (These times are conservative)

Kauai, especially the North Shore is known for getting a lot of rain. The wettest spot on earth, Mt. Waiale'ale, is about 10 miles from (and many thousand feet higher than) the town of Princeville. However, during the summer, the typical rain only lasts for a few hours in the afternoon, and sometimes in will rain in the middle of the night. It is a warm rain, and is not a nuisance at all. The prevailing motto on Kauai is: "No rain, no rainbows" (plus, it fills all of the waterfalls…….). The rain clouds generally tend to hang over the mountains, which are further inland, while they break up over the beaches, providing for excellent beach weather. The tropical feel and lush greenery of the North Shore, combined with breathtaking views of cliffs, waterfalls, and picturesque beaches is unmatched at any other point on the island.

That being said, the island is quite small, and the South side (which is about an hour drive from Princeville) sports a drier (less rain, still humid) environment, where sunshine can almost be guaranteed (don't quote us on this, though). The South Side is where all of the major resorts, high end shops, and touristy restaurants are. There are a lot of things to see and do on the South Shore, and it is worth visiting.

If you start at Princeville and head towards the South shore (You can only go one way; the highway does not go all the way around the island), you can reach the end of the highway in about 1hour and 30 minutes. It is not a big island (527 square miles). It is also quiet. No buildings over three stories high. Only 10% of the island is populated, with the rest being either farmland or protected habitat. As we mentioned, earlier, you will find various climate zones on this island, all the way from tropical rain forest, to dry, arid, almost desert like regions.

Time Zones

Hawaii sits in the time zone known as Hawaiian Standard Time (HST). This is at GMT –10.

Hawaii does NOT observe daylight savings time, so during the summer months, you should subtract 3 hours from Pacific Time to get the local Hawaiian time. In the winter months, subtract only 2 hours from Pacific time to know Hawaiian local time.

The time and temperature on Kaua'i right now are:

Click for Princeville, Hawaii Forecast  

Getting to the island of Kaua’i

What is the best way to get to the Garden Island of Kaua'i? Well, if you are going from the mainland, you could swim....but that would take too much time.

There are a number of direct flights on United Airlines and American Airlines. The three best airports to go from on the west coast are San Francisco (SFO), Oakland (OAK), or Los Angeles (LAX). However, the direct flights will be more expensive. We have found that flight prices can vary, depending on time of year, from around US$450 to US$1500 for the round trip. Typically, US$600 – US$700 is the usual fare for the direct flights for most of the year. During holiday times (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s), it can get pricey. If you find something under US$500 for a direct flight, it is a good find, and you should take advantage of it.

There are no red eye flights going to the islands, but there are a number of them on the way back from the islands back to the mainland.

The cheaper way to go is to fly to Honolulu or Maui, and then take an island hopper on Aloha airlines or Hawaiian airlines. There are various flights from the west coast of the United States and other mainland locations on America Trans Air (ATA), Hawaiian Airlines, Aloha Airlines, United and American. With regards to the island hopper flights, there are a number of them every day, and you should have no problem connecting through.

Direct flights to the Kaua’I from the west coast take about 4 hours and 45 minutes. Coming back, it’s a little longer of a flight because you are flying against the trade winds.

Getting to the other islands from Kaua’I / getting to Kaua’I from the other islands

There are two main airlines for interisland flights: Hawaiian Airlines and Aloha Airlines. There are a number of smaller airlines that fly between the islands, but the two mentioned above are the biggest, and have the most varied schedule.

If you are doing an interisland tour, you should check with them to see about their interisland pass if you plan on doing more than three flights. It may end up being cheaper than buying the individual flight legs.

Travel requirements

As far as we know, there are no special requirements or restrictions for travel to the Hawaiian islands. Hawaii is part of the United States of America, so if you are coming in from a foreign country, you will need to make sure that you have the correct documentation to visit the USA. (Passport, visa if necessary).

As of now, there are no vaccinations required to travel to Hawaii.

Local agriculture rules

There are strict rules as to what agricultural products you can carry to Hawaii from the mainland, and back to the mainland from Hawaii.

When going to the islands, you will be required to declare ANY agrictultural items that you may be bringing with you. This includes fresh fruit, plant and flower seeds, and any other item deemed to be an agrictultural product. This is to protect the very sensitive eco-system which exists on the islands. Please respect these rules to preserve the Hawaiian flora and fauna for all visitors.

On the way back to the mainland, you will be asked the same questions, again, to protect the flora and fauna on the mainland. You may NOT even bring the leis that you may have received. You can purchase leis, flowers, fruit, or other agricultural items to bring back, but they have to be purchased from certain locations. On Kaua’i, there is a shop inside the airport in Lihue which sells pre-approved items which the agricultural inspectors will allow. Also, there are a few items availabe at Hilo Hattie’s that are also pre-approved. If in doubt about buying something, call your airline to check so that it doesn’t get confiscated at the airport.

Health and Safety on the island

Hospital information:

Wilcox memorial hospital is located in Lihue at 3420 Kuhio Highway. This is the main hospital on the island, and the only one offering 24 hour emergency service.

If you have an emergency, dial 911.

To make an appointment at the hospital, call 808-245-1500

To reach an on call physician after hours, please call 808-245-1831

There are also 7 neighborhood clinics located throughout the island. There are two clinics on or close to the North Shore: One in Kilauea, and one in Kapa’a. They keep regular business hours during the week.

Kapa’a medical clinic
1105 Kuhio Highway, Kapaa
Tel: (808) 822-3431

Kilauea medical clinic
Kilauea & Oka Roads,Kilauea
Tel: (808) 828-1418

Other tips:

Make sure to check surf conditions in the local area before going into the water. Surf on the North Shore in the winter months can be dangerous.

Also, when hiking, bring mosquito repellent. Due to the amount of moisture on the island, mosquitoes thrive there, and so it is good to have the repellent handy if you plan to trek inland or on any of the trails.

When in the water, aqua socks are recommended to protect your feet from being cut up on the reef or lava rock. These can be purchased at most drug stores and dive shops on the island. Both coral reefs and lava rock can be quite sharp, and can easily cut into human skin. If you do get a cut, be sure to properly clean and dress the wound to avoid infection, so that it will one day make for a good story, and not really ruin your trip.

Getting around on the island

So, you made it to the island. Now you just have to figure out how to get around. The easiest thing to do is to rent one of the thousands of rental cars available.

All of the major car rental companies are on the island. Most have pickup locations right at the airport, or require you to take a short shuttle ride to their pickup site

So far, the best rates that we have found are with National. There is a Rent-a-Wreck on the island, but their hours are limited, and may not be convenient for pickup and drop off. Check the "Links" page for more info on rental car companies.

There is only one major highway on the island. The max speed limit is 45 MPH. During rush hour (7-9 a.m. and 4-6 p.m.) you may run into some traffic in Kapa'a and Lihue. This is to be expected.

There are a number of one lane bridges and sections of road on the island. The etiquette is to allow 4-5 cars to pass, and then allow the other direction to do the same. This allows both directions to clear as quickly as possible.

Please remember that this is NOT the mainland, and things are a little less hectic here, so please, drive with Aloha. (Plus, you can enjoy the view)

Outdoor activities


Captain Don Jones will take you on a fishing adventure that you won't forget.You may reel in a 20 pound Ono, or maybe hook a Marlin! Captain Don knows the local waters, and will make sure that you have a great time! The boat leave from Nawiliwili harbor, just south of the airport, which is about a 30-40 minute drive from the North Shore. Call him to schedule your fishing adventure!

check out the Captain's web site at: http://www.captaindonsfishing.com

Water activities

There are plenty of locations for surfing, snorkeling, scuba, windsurfing, and all kinds other water related activities on the island. However, it's always important to check in with local shops to know the local water conditions, especially in the summer months.

Two great places that can take care of your water activity needs are:

Hanalaei Surf Company (located in the old school house in downtown Hanalei)

Seasport Dive Shop in Kapa'a. (It is on the maka'i side of the highway in Kapa'a. Look for the yellow submarine out front)

Some of our recommendations:

  • There is some good diving off of Tunnel’s beach.
  • Good snorkeling is found in and around the lagoon at Ke’e beach.
  • For kids, Lydgate water park on the east side of the island (just north of the airport) is a fantastic place to let kids snorkel. It has a couple of areas which are partially blocked off from the ocean, but still have enough access to allow fish in so the kids have stuff to look at underwater.
  • Kids and first time boogie boarders can catch some waves right around the pier on Hanalei bay.
  • For some slightly bigger waves, check out the beach on the Hanalei bay near the pine trees.

And again, we can’t stress enough the need to check the surf conditions to make sure that it is safe to go in the water as well as have the proper gear when in the water. The inner parts of the Hanalei Bay are generally safe year around, because the waves break so far out. However, places such as Ke’e beach can be treacherous in the wintertime or during storms, so please, have fun, but be safe.


There is plenty of shopping to be had all over the island. On the North Shore, you have to know where to look. Here are a few gems that we have found, and think you might enjoy:

In the Princeville shopping center, there is a beautiful art gallery featuring the works of photograher Brad Dawber. Make sure to duck into the gallery and check out the breathtaking photos of some of the island's finest points.

For great quality soaps and candles with a tropical flair, go check out Island Soap and Candle in the Kong Lung shopping center in the beautiful town of Kilauea. They make great gifts and souvenirs! Say hi to our friend Heather if you are there!
There is a link to their website on our "Links" page.
(They also have a store on the south shore in Koloa)

The Kong Lung center does have a couple of other shops, and is a great place to catch a breather on the way to or from the Kilauea lighthouse.

In the quaint town of Hanalei, there is plenty of shopping. On the makai (ocean) side of the highway (it's really just a two lane road...but hey, this is Kaua'i!) is the Ching Young Village. Here, you can find everything from groceries to jewelry, snorkeling equipment to film. Across the road on the mauka (mountain) side of the highway, is the old Hanalei School House, which now is home to some wonderful shops and restaurants. Check out the Hanalei Surf Company, for great clothes and surf gear for you and as gifts! There are links for all of these from our "Links" page.

Going back the other way on the island, we leave the North Shore and we find ourselves heading into Kapa'a on the east shore. Kapa'a has a large number of shops, art galleries, and boutiques. You'll even find one of Hawaii's "famous" ABC stores here. There is a great outdoor market that occurs on the north end of Kapa'a, on the mauka side, near the Red Dirt T-shirt company store. This market is open every Thursday through Saturday, and there are always different treasures to be found.

Keep going south on the highway, and you find yourself heading towards Lihue (which is where the airport is). Now, here is our biggest hint to you for shopping on Kaua'i....you ready? Go to.........Wal Mart. I know, it sounds a little strange, but we have found that for inexpensive souvenirs, last minute vacation necesities, macadamia nuts, and other "necessary" items for a fun vacation, you can't beat the selection and the prices that Wal-Mart has. They have an entire department dedicated to Hawaiiana, and you can get beach towels, fridge magnets, wooden tikis, postcards, and whatever else that you need to help you remember your trip to Kaua'i. And yes, they have a wide selection of Aloha shirts!

If you feel the need to get those high quality, silk aloha shirts, or want to buy a really nice gift for someone special, Hilo Hattie's is right there near the Wal Mart in Lihue. Hilo Hattie's has a great selection, and great quality.

One of the favorite gift items from Kaua'i is anything made from the local Koa wood. This beautiful wood has amazing vibrant colors, and is sturdy enough to make furniture with. Various shops on the island carry Koa items, ranging from sushi sets and desk accessories, to book cases and cigar humidors. Due to the unique nature of each piece, you'll have to decide for yourself which one you are taking home.


There are a number of restaurants on the North Shore. The Hanalei Gourmet in the Old Hanalei School shopping center is a nice place to grab a bite.

Postcards, a quaint little restaurant also in Hanalei offers a wide selection, including various vegetarian options.

If you're looking for burgers, look no further than Bubba's Burgers in Hanalei. (There is also a Bubba's in Kapa'a). They even have a taro burger for vegetarians.

For something a little more fancy, you could always check out the Bistro in the Kong Lung center in Kilauea. Nice, open air dining, excellent selection of continental food, and a nice quiet ambience make it an excellent stop for lunch or dinner.

A personal favorite of ours is a little further down the road in Kapa'a. A little place nestled next to Java Kai called Mermaids. They are a little mixed plate restaurant that has fantastic portions and tasty selections for a very reasonable price.

Ni'ihau (The forbidden island)

The island of Ni'ihau (say "knee-ee-how") lies about 18 miles off of the south west corner of Kaua'i. It is the oldest inhabited island island of the eight major Hawaiian islands.

This island is home to about 300 residents, and it is strictly prohibited to set foot on this island without a direct invitation from one of the local residents. The island is still privately owned by descendents of the Robinson family. They have chosen to allow the current residents to maintain a very traditional Hawaiian way of life. The main language spoken on the island is Hawaiian, and the residents lived as their Hawaiian anscestors did, without electricity and modern conveniences.

There are a few authorized tours to the island, but they must be arranged in advance. There are no hotels on the island. If you venture out to Ni'ihau on your own, rumor has it that a very large Hawaiian man will greet you upon your arrival, and then politely ask you to leave immediately. So far, there has never been anyone who has told the story of what happened if they didn't leave.

Other resources:

The best guide information that we have found for Kaua'i is a wonderful book called "The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook" from Wizard Publications. This is a comprehensive guide to information about all things related to Kauai.

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