Lihue is the main port and second-largest town on Kauai.
Single-family homes, townhouses, and condos share a scenic resort area with luxury hotels and vacation condos in an upscale planned community. The first residential single-family homes and condos were built in 1972, with further development continuing into the 2000s. Many residences border the fairways of the two Robert Trent Jones Jr. golf courses. Other single-family homes and condos are closer to the cliffs and have dramatic ocean and Hanalei Bay panoramas. Beyond the planned community are more Princeville single-family homes on spacious grounds and large land parcels, all with Princeville’s breathtaking scenery.
On Kauai’s North Shore, Princeville is an extraordinarily beautiful setting. The area includes ranches, taro fields, a botanical garden, small neighborhood enclaves, and the 9,000-acre residential resort community shared with luxury hotels, vacation condos, and timeshares. On cliffs overlooking the sparkling waters of the Pacific Ocean, the community’s backdrop is the verdant Hanalei Valley, and beyond, three towering mountains with cascading waters carving through lush mountain vegetation into frothy pools. With such stunning natural beauty inducing a feeling of serenity, Princeville has become a truly idyllic and elegant place to experience, whether year-round or part-time.
Ownership in the Princeville Resort at Hanalei has many descriptions: a single family home, townhouse, condo, or timeshare. All but a very few of the residences in Princeville are fee simple.
Residences range from one-bedroom condos to six- and seven-bedroom single family homes. However, three- and four-bedroom single-family homes are more common. Many residences are purchased to use as vacation rentals.
In 2020, the permanent resident population of Princeville was 2,127. This number also includes the homes in small enclaves and ranches beyond the Princeville at Hanalei planned community. Many of these homes are almost as spacious as the acreage they occupy, and some homes have extra acreage for horses. Life is even more undisturbed and serene here.
Hanalei Valley was cultivated for centuries by Hawaiians with crops such as kalo (taro), grown even today on 700 acres in the valley. The Hawaiians also built fishponds in the area; the remnants of one are in Princeville near the former St. Regis Princeville hotel, now becoming the luxuriously renovated 1 Hotel Hanalei Bay.
Hanalei was a seaport visited by many European and American ships in the early nineteenth century. However, in 1816, the Russians built two forts in the area, one in Princeville. After attempting to claim Kauai for Russia, Hawaiians expelled these Russians in 1817. In the 1830s, westerners began cattle ranches and coffee plantations in the area.
In 1836, Captain Richard Kellett was living in “Lanihulu,” a home built on the cliff above the east side of the entrance to the Hanalei River. In the early 1850s, Kellett was deeded the house and surrounding land, and the property was handed down through generations. A newer beautiful house with its scenic lanai and serpentine palm trees overlooking Hanalei Bay becomes Emile de Becque’s plantation home in the 1958 film South Pacific. Sadly, the house and Princeville’s lone 1960s Hanalei Plantation Resort built on the property are gone. The land is vacant today except for some remaining hotel ruins, but the Hanalei Bay vista is still as stunning as it has been for centuries.
A Scot, Robert Crichton Wyllie, a former minister in the Kingdom of Hawai’i, purchased a coffee plantation in 1853 and in 1860 named the area Princeville in honor of the young Hawaiian crown prince, Prince Albert. Wyllie said of Princeville, “I never saw such a romantically beautiful spot in all my life time.” In 1861, he turned the coffee plantation into a hopefully more profitable sugar plantation but died four years later. The plantation was sold a year after his death when his nephew, the sole heir, committed suicide.
The plantation and its owners struggled in the ensuing years. Finally, in 1893, it became a cattle ranch with lower lands rented for rice farming. In 1919, the Lihue Plantation, another sugar cane company, bought the Princeville acreage but kept the area as ranch land. In 1968, the ranch land was sold for development, and Kauai’s first master-planned community was conceived. The luxurious Princeville Resort hotel opened in 1985. There were several owners between then and 2005 when the current owner, the Honolulu developer The Resort Group, purchased the Princeville at Hanalei planned community. It set about revitalizing the existing community and finishing development designed initially in 1969 while committed to preserving the environment and the area’s natural beauty.
Kauai’s North Shore first became a movie set with an Esther Williams film made in 1950. However, the 1958 film, South Pacific, started many moviegoers to dream about sunny sandy beaches and luminous blue waters, stunning mountain waterfalls, rainbow-filled valleys - and mysterious Bali-Hai. Today, many visitors have made the pilgrimage to this North Shore paradise because of South Pacific or one of the other fourteen movies filmed here, most recently, The Descendants. Like the song from South Pacific, the North Shore lives its haunting lyrics: “Here am I, your special island! Come to me, come to me!” It has brought many visitors to the North Shore, and many have stayed.
With all the stunning scenery in the Princeville area, the weather is the bonus that makes the lifestyle all the more spectacular!
There is little variance in temperatures in Princeville. During the year, the average high temperature in the summer months is 84°F (29°C), and the low temperature is 75°F (24°C). In the winter months, the average high temperature is 78°F (26°C), and the low temperature is 67°F (20°C). January is typically the coolest month, while September can be the hottest.
The average water temperature is 75°F (24°C) in February and a warm 80°F (27°C) in September.
February tends to have the most wet days, reporting almost 8 days with rain, including trace amounts, while June has the least wet days. The average monthly rainfall in the winter months is 4 inches. June has less than 1 inch of rain. However, while these are averages, all the islands are prone to flooding when an extremely heavy storm front passes through, causing heavy run-off from the mountains.
The public schools serving Princeville are Hanalei Elementary School (PK-6), Kapa’a Middle School (7-8), and Kapa’a High School (9-12). Kapa’a High School rates 10/10 in college readiness. School buses take students to each school.
A PK-12 private Christian School, Kauai Christian Academy, in Kilauea, is rated in the top 20 private schools in Hawai’i by Niche. Kapa’a also has some Christian Schools.
Princeville and Hanalei have pre-kindergarten facilities, and Kilauea has a Montessori kindergarten.
There is also an active homeschooling network in Kauai.
The University of Hawai’i’s Kauai Community College is in Lihue.
The closest hospital is the Samuel Mahelona Hospital in Kapa’a, a general medical and surgical facility. It is about 21 miles from the center of Princeville at Hanalei.
Wilcox Medical Center in Lihue is a general medical and surgical hospital in the Hawai’i Pacific Health System. It is the first American College of Surgeons verified Level III Trauma Center in Hawaii. The hospital has been recognized for surgical excellence for the last three years. The American Heart Association has also recognized Wilcox Medical Center for achievement.
The hospital is an affiliated facility with Kaiser Permanente. A Queen’s Healthcare Center is also in Lihue.
Makana North Shore Urgent Care Clinic is in Princeville.
There is so much to experience on Kauai’s North Shore - Lumihai Beach, charming Hanalei Town, and the daunting but enchanting Nā Pali Coast, to name but a few. However, Princeville offers many enjoyable experiences right at home.
Of course, golfers know the Princeville golf courses are world-renowned, with several awards and recognitions. Their designer, one of the top golf course architects today, said of his Prince Course 15th hole that it “may be the finest par 5 I’ve ever built.” And Robert Trent Jones Jr. has built many.
The planned community also has spas, tennis courts, pickleball, basketball, and volleyball courts, a community center, a public library, a walking/jogging/bicycling & skateboarding path with a fitness circuit, and hiking trails. Photogenic vistas from the Hanalei Valley Lookout and the new Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge Viewpoint are especially worth seeing, and Princeville Ranch has equestrian trail rides with horseback lessons.
The Princeville Botanical Gardens is 9 acres of lush Kauai fruits, flowers, and vegetation, featuring native and canoe plants (staples brought by the early Polynesian settlers), honey grown in the gardens, and its own chocolate!
Also in the valley are the agricultural areas, especially taro fields. A tour of the preserved Haraguchi Rice Mill is fun and educational.
And for local water adventures below the cliffs of Princeville, with accessible paths to the beaches and clear ocean waters, residents have access to Queen’s Bath, small lagoons, and sea caves with honu (green sea turtles) for company. Snorkeling below Princeville with Reef Guides Hawaii is educational, safe, and fun!
A local Hawai’i grocer, Foodland, anchors the Princeville Shopping Center with other practical necessities for residents, such as a hardware store. There are health and beauty stores and services, apparel and gift boutiques, art galleries, and for residents who have one or more pets, a pet shop. Real estate offices, banks, a post office, a gas station, and several casual eateries are also in the center. Every Saturday afternoon, the Food Court has a hula show.
Hanalei Farmers Market is less than 5 miles away on Kuhio Hwy. They are open on Saturday mornings.
The big box stores, Costco, Walmart, Target, and Home Depot, are in Lihue.
More formal dining is at the Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas’ Nanea Restaurant, but still casual. It has an island-inspired menu with locally caught fish and locally grown vegetables. With the soon opening luxurious 1 Hotel Hanalei Bay, with a focus on wellness and locally sourced ingredients, dining is sure to be a memorable experience.
Princeville offers beauty, serenity, an active outdoor lifestyle, and a culture providing endless opportunities for learning and experiencing all the North Shore has to offer.
Lihue is the main port and second-largest town on Kauai.
On the southwestern coast of Kauai is the sleepy area of Waimea.
Kapaa offers rare and modest plantation-style beachfront homes.
Hanalei captures the true essence of what Hawaii is known for.
Kalaheo has homes that reflect its sugar plantation heritage.
Kilauea on Kauai is located between Anahola and Princeville.
Wailua offers coastal condos & 2 major residential subdivisions.
Hanapepe is a homespun coastal town in southwest Kauai.